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Wed Aug 14, 2019, 06:29 AM

"Rhinoceros", by Eugene Ionesco. A theater-play about racism you might find interesting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinoceros_(play)


The protagonist is Berenger, a drunk failure who works at a newspaper in a small, quaint french town.


One day, a rhino rampages through the town and disappears afterwards.


Some people argue that something should be done about the rhinos, while others argue that it cannot happen here: There must be a mistake! There are no rhinos in France!


More and more rhinos show up, rampaging through the town, damaging buildings and hurting people, and disappearing afterwards. Still, nothing gets done. Ever more people announce how no intelligent person could fall for this mass-hysteria! It cannot happen here!


Berenger discovers that the rhinos are actually fellow townspeople that have turned into rhinos via some illness.


The rhinos are now everywhere and a fact of life. As he tries to come to grasp with the idea of how to live amongst rhinos, the rhinos get more and more admirers: People start fawning over them. Over the passion and power and strength of the rhinos. Aren't these admirable traits?


His girlfriend cannot understand his hatred for these noble beasts and leaves him to join them.


Berenger is alone now. He doesn't want to be alone. He tries to transform into a rhino. He fails. He realizes that this is the wrong way. He vows to fight them.


The end.

16 replies, 961 views

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 06:52 AM

1. I thought the rhinos were Nazis as they spread

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 06:57 AM

2. Adapted into a movie (1974), reuniting Zero Mostel with Gene Wilder

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:32 AM

3. Is there a missing bit of dialogue, a scene, which would (um) flesh out this theatrical critter?

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:39 AM

4. I saw this play once. No, the rhinos don't talk.

The play is about the increasing isolation of Berenger as the world around him goes mad.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:49 AM

7. So tis a bit of an abstract thing. A delicacy we can't afford the time to appreciate

(While we batten down the hatches against global warming-induced floods and constantly upgrade our labor-saving devices)

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:47 AM

6. it's on youtube

he's the final monologue


whole movie also avail

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:46 AM

5. I thought it was about cults, Nazism, conformity

not racism. The rhinoceros represent people falling for a cult/turning into Nazis.

IMHO

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Response to Hamlette (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 07:51 AM

8. That sounds.... ooomph.... wait.... my horn just got stuck in the door... no, wait... nooooooo!

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #8)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 11:50 PM

12. ???

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Response to Hamlette (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 08:39 AM

16. The Rhinoceros is about Rhinos (as metaphors for mindless norms/tools....)

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Response to Hamlette (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 12:50 AM

14. Yeah, that's more what it's about

I'm also reminded of an SNL sketch that parodied 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers - where Gilda can't understand why all her friends are voting for Reagan.

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:06 AM

9. This thread calls for some Galt MacDermot

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 08:27 AM

10. Rhinoceros is not about racism....

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Wed Aug 14, 2019, 09:18 AM

11. Since November 2016, I have

felt that I am living in the Theater of the Absurd, which is Ionescu's forte. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_the_Absurd

The Theatre of the Absurd (French: théâtre de l'absurde [teɑtʁə də lapsyʁd]) is a post-World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s, as well as one for the style of theatre which has evolved from their work. Their work focused largely on the idea of existentialism and expressed what happens when human existence has no meaning or purpose and therefore all communication breaks down. Logical construction and argument give way to irrational and illogical speech and to its ultimate conclusion, silence.[1]
...
Playwrights commonly associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Harold Pinter, Luigi Pirandello, Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Miguel Mihura, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Fernando Arrabal, Václav Havel, Edward Albee, Malay Roy Choudhury, Tadeusz Różewicz, Sławomir Mrożek, N.F. Simpson, and Badal Sarkar.


I am still waiting for the tears of despair to make way to the laughter of liberation, as described in the link.

Eta: it is interesting - and somehow fitting - that some of the characters in the excerpt turned into smilies.

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 12:46 AM

13. I was thinking about that play yesterday

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Thu Aug 15, 2019, 02:03 AM

15. I had never heard of this before noon today when I first read this post.

I then read links from the thread that describe the play, and the context/autobiographical nature or it .... and I have been chilled throughout the day since reading it. I agree with posters below this is more about the potential power of mass movements that cut off divergent thought, such as fascism in the "interwar years" (between WWI and WWII) in Europe, which is rising again here and there.

Thank you Detlefk, for posting this and introducing others, who like me were not familiar with it, to this important literary/play work.

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