Unpacking the individual : a director's approach to Ionesco's Rhinoceros.


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In 1959, French-Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco debuted his play, Rhinoceros, and the theatergoing world was captivated by the curious image of people turning into pachyderms. This fable about herd mentality and being comfortable in one’s own skin is continually timely, as humans and rhinos often pit people against the pack. While critics have pointed to historic inspirations for the script for years, the play is more effective as an individual exploration of what it means to be human. Like much of Ionesco’s work, it reveals a strong concern for individualism and upholding human dignity. This thesis examines the production process that brought Rhinoceros to the Baylor University stage in December 2019 for a weeklong run. It explores the playwright’s life and work, as well as historical productions of the play, before turning attention to the directorial analysis of the script. Directing concepts and production designs are then outlined to trace the development of the play from rehearsals through performances to highlight lessons learned throughout the collaborative process.



Eugene Ionesco. Theatre of the Absurd. Rhinoceros. Individualism. Personalism. Herd mentality. French avant-garde. Modern drama.