“Rhinoceros” by Eugène Ionesco
What exactly helps or hinders our understanding of a situation?
Is foreign language the only hurdle in the way of comprehension?
Ionesco wrote Rhinoceros during a period of existential crises – not only his own, but also those of his contemporaries.
The big question raised by Ionesco on the possibility of effective communication in a world at war in which certain abuses of power are so difficult to comprehend, remains relevant today.
Rhinoceros shows us just how far totalitarianism can go. Comparisons can be drawn between the above themes and that of the omnipresence of the English language in today’s society: are we witnessing an English language “occupation” of Europe?
Where is the line between progress and occupation?
How can we protect our diverse languages and cultures without being pushed aside like Berenger?
We are seeking not to make a link between the Anglophone world and the Fascism to which Ionesco refers, but rather to investigate the importance of remaining true to one’s identity, whilst being open to evolution. Is it possible to find a balance, and how?
Dudard, la Ménagère, le Serveur
Cédric discovered Theatre when he was seventeen while taking part in a two-year research Theatre Lab, organized by Ludwik Flaszen, a close collaborator of Grotowski, and Monika Pagneux, a renowned Jacques Lecoq teacher.
Headshot Cedric Merillon
In 2004, he co-founded Théâtre la Boutonnière in Paris, which focused on new writing and devised theatre. Here, he was assistant director on numerous productions with the theatre’s company in residence GCT (Groupe de Création Théâtrale). During this time he
became interested in creating new forms of theatre, and facilitated and participated in several workshops.
Cédric went on to train at Jacques Lecoq Theatre school in Paris in 2008, from which he graduated in 2010. Directly after, he completed a Masters in physical theatre, at Saint Mary's University College in Twickenham. Here, during this period of study he acted in numerous plays, and learned to love acting in English.
After leaving England, Cédric was involved in several shows, which afforded him the opportunity to travel extensively to countries such as Portugal (As Loud as Silence), Scotland and Northern Ireland (Rhinocéros), Senegal (Gamblers) and South Korea (Rêve du Papillon).
In 2012, Cédric moved to Cork where he has since performed in Cleansed (Irish première, Granary Theatre, Cork), Dradin, In Love (Galway Festival; Granary Theatre, Cork), and Bug (Half Moon Theatre, Cork).
Cédric has been a member of Theatraverse since 2011, and performed the bilingual role of Dudard in Rhinocéros. He also leads theatre workshops with the company, specialising in sessions for teenagers and adults.
Jean, Madame Bœuf
Siva NAGAPATTINAM KASI
Born in Amsterdam to an Indian father and a Dutch mother, Siva was brought up mainly in France, where he studied and worked in a variety of fields – including naval carpentry, IT, international commerce, and translation for NGOs – before beginning his onstage career.
After training for a number of years in the Paris region, Siva became a professional actor in 2002. With the Théâtre du Voyageur, he has played a wide range of roles in a dozen different plays, ranging from Shakespeare to devised plays inspired by non-theatrical texts.
As Siva’s career has progressed, he has been drawn to new challenges. He performed at Aurillac’s street theatre festival with Cie Grain d’ArtGile, and at Avignon summer festival with Cie Naphralytep.
With Theatraverse, Siva often performs in English: he played Jean in the bilingual adaptation of Rhinoceros, and The Man in Great Artists Steal, both of which were played at Edinburgh Festival. Siva develops and leads bilingual theatre workshops for children and young people, as well as for adults with Theatraverse.
Botard, le Vieux Monsieur, le Patron
Guillaume graduated from the International Theatre School, Jacques Lecoq in 2008 and has trained under Christian Carrignon at Théâtre de Cuisine, and Michel Chiron of CNR in Amiens, as well as Alain Gautré. He has also trained in Commedia dell'arte, object theatre, and singing.
Guillaume has worked extensively in the Picardy region, with the Théâtre du Lin, Cie Eclats d'Etats, Cie Car à Pattes, and Cie du Chahut (Oise). He performed recently in Pas de Pardon by Roger Wallet (Avignon 2015), and played Philinte in Le Misanthrope for Compagnie les gOsses.
He also works in the Paris region, notably performing in Faisons un rêve by Guitry, and for some televised series. He has been working with Theatraverse since 2011, and played Bérenger in Rhinocéros by Ionesco (Edinburgh 2012 – Belfast 2013).
He is the artistic director of Cie Grain d’ArtGile, which he cofounded in 2008; the company’s notable productions include Rhinos in the Street. Guillaume also directs and leads workshops for schools and for adults.
Daisy, le Logicien, l’Épicière
Mélanie began her performance training when she was fifteen, at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Châtellerault (France). During her three years there, her time with Roser Seguar and Isona Dodero encouraged her to focus on clown work. Meanwhile, she continued to develop her skills in dance, capoeira and circus performance.
Mélanie's interest in languages led to performances in Spanish (Les Anacroniques, Toulouse) and English (Fairground Theatre, Bristol). After two years spent in England, during which time she worked on a number of productions - including the devised performance of The Red Man (Tobacco Factory, Bristol, 2008) - Mélanie returned to France to complete two years of further training at the International Theatre School Jacques Lecoq.
Since graduating from the Lecoq school, she has been involved in the creation of 38, International Theatre Company, and has worked briefly with Teatr Piesn Kosna/Song of the Goat, in Poland. She is also part of Les Désaxés du Mambo, a clown project. She has recently been working on 38's latest production, an adaptation of Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, which was played at the 2012 edition of Théâtre du Soleil’s Festival des Premiers Pas. Melanie recently participated in a workshop with Complicite in London.
Mélanie performs in both French and English in Theatraverse’s Rhinoceros, in the role of Daisy. With Theatraverse she leads bilingual theatre workshops for all age groups.
Joanne is a theatre director and actor who trained at l’Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She is particularly attentive to the role of language in onstage communication and specialises in Theatre of the Absurd. Joanne, originally from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, graduated in 2006 from Queen's University, Belfast with a joint honours degree in Drama and French. In 2005 she directed her first piece of bilingual theatre at the university: La Leçon (The Lesson) by Eugène Ionesco.
Joanne is one of the founding members of Theatraverse. Since the company’s creation in 2008, Joanne has directed and accompanied four bilingual productions on tour: Lost in Scotland, a devised play inspired by Isabelle Gilbert’s book of the same title; Rhinocéros, a bilingual adaptation of Ionesco’s original; Great Artists Steal and Monsieur Somebody, both by Seamus Collins.
The plays she has directed have toured in the UK and France, and are accompanied by bilingual theatre workshops. Joanne creates and leads bilingual theatre workshops and training days for children, young people, and adults. She also gives talks and leads discussions about bilingual theatre in the context of interviews and conferences.
Outwith Theatraverse, Joanne works as an actor and director for Cie Grain d’ArtGile in Amiens, and Theatre du Voyageur in the Paris region.
Actor and assistant director
Jenni is a circus-trained actor and juggles many talents.
Over the past seven years Jenni has worked with companies such as Circo Aereo, Theatraverse and Kallo Collective. She moved to Paris in 2006, where she trained at the International Theatre School Jacques Lecoq. She also has over fourteen years of dance training.
In 2008, Jenni became one of the founding members of Theatraverse, alongside a team of like-minded European artists. She performed onstage during the company’s first play, Lost in Scotland, and she is happy to be able to participate in Theatraverse’s evolution through her involvement in the direction and, more specifically, choreography, of Rhinoceros.
“Rhinoceros” is supported by an international team of professionals, often volunteers
- Sound : Sion Dey
- Voice : Alexander MacLachlan
- Lights : Michel Chauvot
- Graphic design : Bénédicte Pérreira do Lago
- Marketing : Hamish Davey Wright
- Video : Farid Cherqaoui
- Video montage : Isabelle Gilbert
- Photography : Bernard Quérard
In the press
“[…] les acteurs devenant des bêtes avalées par le décor créant ainsi une atmosphère cauchemardesque et étouffante qui tranche avec la légèreté du début de la pièce.”
“Une réussite pour la troupe Theatraverse et sa metteure en scène qui ont su capter là toute l’essence existentielle de l’œuvre de Ionesco et la restituer subtilement devant des spectateurs barrissant de plaisir ! Courez-y !”
“The bilingual text through which we are posed the questions of what is normal and what is illusion, whether it is better to belong or be out of step, works extraordinarily well. “
“The sound effects are impressive”
“Theatraverse certainly handles the source material expertly and puts a bizarre new spin on the play in this accomplished production.”
“The final transformation of Berenger’s friend Jean into a rhinoceros was wonderfully hideous, with Siva Nagapattinam Kasi successfully juggling the chilling transformation with the absurdist humour.”
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Événements à venir
For more details about this play, please download the information pack.
Rhino féroce et rosse
Une interprétation très tenue et exigeante de tous les comédiens, un tour de force autour d’un dispositif scénique simple qui fonctionne très bien. Une oeuvre ouverte comme l’aurait qualifié Umberto Eco tant s’entendent des résonances contemporaines et celles de l’existence intime. Une interprétation que mon filleul de 7 ans et ma fille de 11 ans ont aimé sans détours et compris dans les grandes lignes ce qui est un signe d’espoir pour les requiems du temps présent. L’interprétation en anglais est une vraie surprise qui tout en jouant de la mise à distance, du théâtre dans le théâtre, insensiblement mène à songer à Samuel Beckett.
J’ai passé un merveilleux moment avec Ionesco, ce spectacle m’a même réconcilié avec cette pièce, “Rhinocéros ! ”
La mise en scène dynamique, le rythme entrainant des différents personnages qui viennent et reviennent, le mélange des langues qui se confondent – anglais et français – et nous emmène ailleurs, l’énergie des comédiens si vivaces et engagés, m’ont saisi comme dans un tourbillon, et j’ai vraiment passé un très bon temps avec la compagnie Theatraverse, j’ai redécouvert le texte de Ionesco, et j’ai été saisi par la profondeur du message si bien portée par l’ensemble de l’équipe !
Bravo à tous et Merci !
Belle continuation pour ce joli projet, que je reviendrai sûrement voir encore…
N’hésitez pas !
Joanne Allan adapte Ionesco avec un sens du minimalisme et du language corporel parfaitement adapté au texte. Les acteurs, la musique et la simplicité du décors contribuent à nous faire autant rire qu’à être ému voir songeur. Une adaptation aussi directe qu’habitée.