RHINOCEROS Opens Next Week at convergence-continuum

RHINOCEROS Opens Next Week at convergence-continuum

When a brutish rhinoceros storms through their quiet neighborhood, the townsfolk are alarmed, but gradually become supporters of rhino-ism and one by one begin to turn into rhinoceroses themselves. Will the few hold-outs be able to resist the rhino's despicable impulses, or become part of the mindless herd? A classic absurdist comedy that is a parable that remains universal and particularly timely today.

The production of RHINOCEROS is a big deal for convergence-continuum. Since our first season sixteen years ago, we have only produced the works of living playwrights. But right now is definitely a time that calls out to us to break this rule with this particular play.

RHINOCEROS opens Fri, Aug 25 and runs Thurs-Sat at 8 pm through Sept 16 at the Liminis Theater, 2438 Scranton Rd, Cleveland 44113 in the historic Tremont neighborhood. Fri & Sat tickets are $20 general admission, $15 seniors (65+), $10 students; Thurs tickets are $15, $12 and $8.

Reservations and information at convergence-continuum.org and 216-687-0074.

The Playwright: Eugene Ionesco

Romanian-born Eugène Ionesco (1909- 1994) wrote mostly in French, and was one of the foremost figures of the French Avant-garde theatre. His one-act "antiplay" La Cantatrice Chauve (1949; The Bald Soprano) inspired a revolution in dramatic techniques and helped inaugurate the Theatre of the Absurd. The son of a Romanian father and a French mother, he spent most of his childhood in France but in his early teenage years returned to Romania, where he qualified as a teacher of French and married in 1936. He returned to France in 1938 to complete his doctoral thesis. Caught by the outbreak of war in 1939, he settled there, earning his living as a proofreader for publishers.

Ionesco came to playwriting almost by chance. Having decided to learn English, he was struck by the emptiness of the clichés of daily conversation that appeared in his phrase book. Out of such nonsensical sentences he constructed his first play, The Bald Soprano (1950; Eng. trans., 1958), which satirizes the deadliness and idiocy of the daily life of a bourgeois society frozen in meaningless formalities. Greatly surprised by the success of the play, Ionesco embarked on a career as a writer of what he called antiplays, which characteristically combine a dream or nightmare atmosphere with grotesque, bizarre, and whimsical humor. In his work the tragic and farcical are fused. In all, Ionesco wrote 28 plays, some of which have been in constant production since 1955. Among his most well-known works are The Chairs, The Lesson, Rhinoceros, The Bald Soprano and Exit the King.

Ionesco also wrote theoretical essays on theater. In the collection Notes and Counter Notes, in the section titled "Experience of the Theatre", Ionesco claimed to have hated going to the theatre as a child because it gave him "no pleasure or feeling of participation." He wrote that the problem with realistic theatre is that it is less interesting than theatre that invokes an "imaginative truth," which he found to be much more interesting and freeing than the "narrow" truth presented by strict realism. [This is definitely the kind of theatre that is in convergence-continuum's wheelhouse.]

The Play: Rhinoceros

Written in 1959, Rhinoceros was one of Eugene Ionesco's first full-length plays and demonstrates the playwright's anxiety about the spread of inhuman totalitarian tendencies in society. Inspired by Ionesco's personal experiences with fascism during World War II, this absurdist drama depicts the struggle of one man to maintain his identity and integrity alone in a world where all others have succumbed to the allure of brute force and violence. This play marks his breakthrough into the English-speaking theatre with its English translation of Rhinoceros in 1960. Since then it has had countless productions in a number of translations.

The convergence-continuum production of the Derek Prouse translation is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French.

The Company: convergence-continuum

Rhinoceros the company's 94th production, is the fourth of six in the 2017 Season (our sixteenth). The company's season runs from February (during which we stage the NEOMFA Playwrights Festival) through December. Many of the cast and crew of Rhinoceros have been involved in previous convergence-continuum productions in many and various capacities, while some, we are delighted to say, are newcomers to our boards. The company seeks to create a core ensemble that continues to work together over the long term in exploring and developing its artistic voice, and performance and production practices, to create up-close, environmentally-staged productions that challenge the status quo and extend the boundaries of theatre.

The company's artistic home since 2002 (which the company purchased in January this year!) is the Liminis Theater, an intimate, versatile, storefront performance space, with maximum seating of 40-50 depending on the set-up for each show. The company produces alternative/experimental theatre work by living playwrights, and completely transforms the Liminis for each show, immersing audiences into the world of the play in up-close productions.

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