Although the title of the play was called ‘Rhinoceros’, I did not initially believe it would be about rhinoceroses. Instead I believed that the word ‘rhinoceros’ was a mere hidden meaning which would be revealed later on in the play and yet to my surprise the play was about rhinoceroses. Even more intriguing was that people were transforming into rhinoceroses. This gave me a wider range of aspects to look at regarding lighting, sound, staging etc…
To begin with the staging it was in a shape of a simple square and no staging curtains were covering it. The side walls were painted white to keep the staging simple and not to distract the audience from the performers. With the walls painted white there was no need to emphasis the scene change by using added back drops to change location of the scene. The far back wall was made up of joint wooden planks which would slowly fall gradually through the performance.
This was first shown when the very first rhinoceros appeared to the performers. A sound which gradually became louder in the background, the performers would look to the side of the stage where smoke would appear, this symbolising where the rhinoceros was charging from, causing a couple of wooden planks to fall off. This was the intended effect of a Rhinoceros charging through the town square, causing the walls to shake. Everytime this happened more and more planks would fall off and by the final scene of the whole performance, the wall had almost completely collapsed. These planks were also never touched or moved, even during the interval.
There wasn’t obvious interaction between the audience and the actors, apart from when the rhinoceros would charge through the town square. The rhinoceroses were never seen by the audience until near to the end. What symbolised a rhinoceros charging through the square was a distant but very rapidly approaching sound of the breathing and head log dash of wild animals as well as a trumpeting sound, gradually becoming so loud that the actors cannot be heard.
By this time the sounds become extremely loud with rapid sounds of powerful animal galloping very close by. These sounds felt as if some were made by a group of people making the animal trumpeting sounds, however the galloping was probably produced by instruments to get the full effect the play needed. Smoke would also appear where the rhinoceros appears to be running and the performers would stare in horror at that particular point of the stage.
To create illusion of the rhinoceros charging, it has to move to various points around the stage or in this case the theatre, where the audience is sitting. This is where the interaction of the audience begins. For the illusion of the rhinoceros charging through the audience, smoke isn’t used to show that the rhinoceros is actually within the audience as it does when on stage, but the animal galloping, trumpeting sound increasing with the help of surround sound to emphasis to the audience that the rhinoceros was there with them, and also the performers looking into the audience as if they were the rhinoceros or it was charging through them.
There wasn’t much colour used through the performance; however there were elements of it used, whether it was clothing or the staging itself. The staging walls were painted white to emphasis that there is not individual. With the walls painted this colour, this also meant that the audience also had to use their imagination to create the scene location. The characters costumes didn’t create much individually, apart from Daisy and Berenger who stood out from the other characters. Daisy wore a bright yellow dress throughout most of the performance. The other female characters wore darker floral dresses, this gives the impression that she has more of a positive attitude compared to the other characters and this choice of colour for her dress was made because of that. Berenger’s suit he wore at the beginning of the performance was also very individual.
He wore a cream shirt, brown trousers and wasn’t wearing a tie. This wasn’t a traditional suit that his friends Jean wore or any other male characters. The intended meaning I got from the colour connotations, especially with the costumes was that Berenger and Daisy both wore very individual costumes. With the walls painted white there was no individuals and the play focusing on the people in the local town turning into rhinoceroses, by the end there are no individuals, everyone is a rhinoceros apart from Berenger who fights his way of not becoming ‘one of them’.
There are many other elements that contributed to the whole performance, such as lighting, organisation of space, sound effects that I thought were done brilliantly. To sum up the whole meaning of the play, I would have to relate it to the word ‘individual’. I think the intended meaning created was to show that most of societies are not individuals and most people say or do things because others are doing it. Gradually within the play everyone wanted to become a rhinoceros, afraid of being different from one another.
Ionseco, Eugene, ‘Rhinoceros’, trans. By Martin Crimp, Faber and Faber Limited, 2007.
‘Rhinoceros’, Royal Court Theatre, trans. By Derek Prouse, on 3rd October 2007.