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Rhinocéros is a French absurdist political play in three acts and four tableaux by Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994) [1].

The original text

Originally written in French in 1959, it was first performed in a German translation in the Schauspielhaus at Düsseldorf on 6 November and the first French production was done by Jean-Louis Barrault in Paris at the Odéon-Théâtre de France on 20 January, 1960. The play was published in French by Gallimard in 1959.

The play dealing abstractly with issues of conformity, culture, mass movements, philosophy and morality. It is the second in Ionesco's Berenger Cycle, preceded by The Killer (1958) and followed by Exit the King (1962) and A Stroll in the Air (1963).

Translations and adaptations

Translated into English as Rhinoceros by ** ,and performed in April 1960 by the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London, under the direction of Orson Welles, with Laurence Olivier as Bérenger, Joan Plowright as Daisy.

Translated into Afrikaans from the French as Die Renosters ("The rhinoceri") by Bartho Smit. Published by HAUM-Literêr in the series Bartho Smit-vertalings in 1984, including Die Les and Die Koning Sterf in the same volume.

Performance history in South Africa

1963: Produced in English as Rhinoceros by Peter Kleinschmidt with students of University of Cape Town at the Little Theatre in 1963.

1963-4: Produced in Afrikaans by PACT, directed by Jannie Gildenhuys with Gildenhuys, Cobus Rossouw, Vicki Vosloo, Ernst Eloff, Phyllis Punt, Roelf Laubscher, Limpie Basson, Jan Bruijns, Leonora Nel, Francois Swart and Kita Redelinghuijs. Decor by Raimond Schoop and costumes designed by Joubero Malherbe.

1994: Produced in Afrikaans by the Stellenbosch University Drama Department in the H.B. Thom Theatre in May, directed by Waldemar Schultz, starring Paul du Toit, Francois Toerien, Anneke Hayward, Ewald Cress, Martelize Kolver, Anton van Eeden, Erik de Waal, Suzanne Smith, Gaerin Hauptfleisch, Franci Swanepoel, Marianne Stander, Lisl Wolmarans, Nico Dreyer, Amelda Brand, Cornelius Koopman, Nicole Holm, and Waldemar Schultz.

2011: Performed in the ATKV-Wynand Mouton-teater, as part of the Vryfees in Bloemfontein by Luwes Produksies. Directed by Nico Luwes with Johann Nel, André Stolz, Minette Grové, Dirk Gouws, Anna Visser, Alec Debbo, De Beer Cloete, Thys Heydenrych, Elandi Lamprecht, Pieter Venter, Charl Ochler, Jaco van der Merwe, Lizelle Delport, and Leandi de Klerk.

2019: Workshopped and performed in English as Rhinoceros by Kwasha! Theatre Company at the Market Theatre, Johanesburg, with the support of the French Institute of South Africa and Mazars. Directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Billy Langa, it features Aalliyah Matintela, Molatelo Maffa, Sibahle Mangena, Sinenhlanhla Mgeyi, Thulisile Nduvane and Vusi Nkwenkwezi. Dialogue coaching by Vanessa Cooke, lighting design by Mandla Mtshali, costume and set by Thando Lobese, sound design by John Withers, production management by Rudy Motseatsea and stage management by Namhla Blou. Opening at the Ramolao Makhene Theatre on the 4 October (and playing till the 20th), and thereafter at the Courtyard Theatre, Durban. 24 – 26 October and Magnet Theatre, Cape Town, 8-9 November.




Rhinoceros theatre programme (Little Theatre 1963).


PACT report, 1963/64

H.B. Thom Theatre programme, 1994

Market Theatre Foundation. 2019. "Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros at Market Theatre", Artslink.co.za News 09/21/2019[2]

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