Play that asks questions

2010-08-31 00:00

RHINOCEROS, Eugene Ionesco’s iconic French theatre-of-the-absurd play about social conformity, is being staged by drama students from the Durban­ University of Technology (Dut) at the Courtyard Theatre at 7 pm from September 1 to 4, under the direction of Lloyd O’Connor.

The play takes place in a village where locals pass the time by debating the issues of the day. The main character, Berenger, is a laid-back drunk and a café regular. One by one the village people literally morph into rhinoceroses, until ultimately Berenger­ is the only villager who is still in human form.

This watershed drama and dark comedy is a fascinating, wry and disturbing study of the “pack mentality” — human being’s ability to indiscriminately embrace violence and force and conformity without question.

Profoundly influenced by the events that led to the outbreak of World War 2 and the rise of communism and facism in Europe, Ionesco’s primary purpose in writing Rhinoceros­ is to explore the mentality of those who so easily succumbed to brainwashing against evidence­ of better judgment.

He asks the questions: what is it that allows them to rationalise away their free thought and to subvert their own free will? What traits in the individual allows him or her to be snowballed by general opinion and why is it necessary to believe the same thing that everyone else believes?

Rhinoceros features a cast of 35 Dut undergraduates. Tickets are R20 from Lebohang Sibisi at 031 373 2194.

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