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The Seeing Place Theater Presents Ionesco’s "Rhinoceros" at the Lynn Redgrave Theater
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The Seeing Place Theater Presents Ionesco’s "Rhinoceros" at the Lynn Redgrave Theater

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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The Seeing Place Theater

Founding Artistic Director: Brandon Walker
Founding Member & Managing Director: Erin Cronican
Company Member-Production Manager: Logan Keeler


Eugène Ionesco’s

Adapted by Derek Prouse
Directed by Brandon Walker

Culture Project’s Lynn Redgrave Theater
45 Bleeker Street (at Lafayette)
New York, NY 10012

Brandon Walker, Joshua George, Rob Hatzenbeller
Logan Keeler, Autumn Mirassou, Emily Newhouse
Lisa-Marie Newton, Carla Torgrimson

Lighting Design: Duane Pagano
Production Design: Erin Cronican and Brandon Walker
Stage Management: Ari Veach
Technical Director: Logan Keeler
House Management: Autumn Mirassou
Marketing/PR Graphics: Erin Cronican

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 5, 2016 Matinee

(Read about Eugène Ionesco)

In The Seeing Place Theater’s impressive presentation of Ionesco’s 1959 play, Rhinoceros, adapted by Derek Prouse, director Brandon Walker also plays the lead role of Berenger, the only human in a small French town who, during a tumultuous night, does not morph into a rhinoceros. This “theater of the absurd” work, written in a post-war, cold war climate, evokes past and current imagery of crowd behavior, a feverish run through an airport, although no threat occurred, the enabling of the Nazis in Vichy, the hypocrisy of Constitution-waving politicians in bowing to the edicts of Joseph McCarthy, the strangleholds of the Klan, Neo-Nazis, homophobes, misogynists, racists, and more. The Seeing Place Theater derives its name from “theatron”, or “the seeing place”, a Greek term for “a gathering of a people to talk about socio-political issues of the times” (Program Notes). In the expansive, downtown space, known as Lynn Redgrave Theater, Seeing Place actors double in production, marketing, and technical design, while making each performance “organic”, that is, engaging with each other’s energy and dynamics, spontaneously.

The production uses minimal stage sets - a table and chairs, a rumpled bed that wheels in and out, a makeshift window and threadbare walls, a busy broom, and some busier rags. In a café, in a newsroom, in Berenger’s home, in stairwells, and in the street, we’re introduced to the inebriated, sluggish Berenger (Mr. Walker), the esoteric, self-obsessed Jean (Logan Keeler), the confident newsroom assistant and Berenger’s girlfriend, Daisy (Autumn Mirassou), the news reporters Dudard (Joshua George) and Botard (Carla Torgrimson), the wife of a newsroom staff member, Mrs. Boeuf (Lisa-Marie Newton), the news executive, Papillon (Rob Hatzenbeller), and the cold, precise logician (Emily Newhouse). Six additional characters, created by the doubling of actors, are grocer, café proprietor, fireman, little old man’s wife, waitress, and housewife (very 1950’s). The dramatic action progressively ensues, after Mrs. Boeuf’s offstage husband is afflicted with rhinoceros horns and limbs, and she dashes off to care for him. Soon, Jean, in bed with a cold, suddenly morphs into a rhinoceros, with hoarse, then grunting vocals, grey face paint, collapsing with bent torso, hoofs for hands. Backstage growling and grumbling, from the quickly growing horde of rhinoceroses, force Berenger and friends to fence themselves in with walls of chairs. Berenger faces approaching rhinoceroses, almost climbing through his door and window, while he and Daisy discuss the re-population of the earth with their “normal” genes. Vociferous fights have filled the two-act dialogue, about whether rhinoceroses with one horn or two are from Asia or Africa. Viewers can fill in their own thoughtful comparisons to current socio-political arguments.

As Berenger, Mr. Walker showed compassion and terror, when Jean morphed and imploded. With Daisy, he suffered neediness and loneliness, while Ms. Mirassou suffered approach-avoidance dilemmas. Daisy, among the extensive cast, seemed the most calm and collected, a pragmatic survivor. In fact, in the play’s final moments, it was Berenger who was fervently flailing, surrounded by communal, charging rhinoceroses. He finally morphs as well, from passive to self-reliant, fending off rhinoceroses, instead of compromising his human destiny. The most significant props, other than the multi-use chairs, were a few, full-head rhinoceros masks, rubbery and unsettling. The face paint and chalk expanded the transitional phases. It’s good to see revivals of rare, thought-provoking plays. Kudos to The Seeing Place Theater.

Rob Hatzenbeller and Emily Newhouse
in Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros"
Courtesy of Justin Hoch

Brandon Walker and Logan Keeler
in Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros"
Courtesy of Justin Hoch

Logan Keeler and the Cast
in Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros"
Courtesy of Justin Hoch

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at