Theatre @ York launches its new season with a classic

Theatre @ York launches its season with Rhinoceros, Eugene Ionesco’s compelling exploration of the seductive and destructive power of the drive to conformity. The show opens Nov. 6, after two previews, and runs to Nov. 10 in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre on the Keele campus.

Written in 1958 in the aftermath of the rise and fall of Nazism, Rhinoceros dramatizes the degeneration of a whole community into a herd of stampeding animals – and the lonely and bewildered resistance of a single individual. Ionesco (1909-1994) was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude of humans and the insignificance of one’s existence.

A masterwork, the play investigates the role of personal autonomy and responsibility within a climate of moral abdication and social disintegration.

Ground-breaking Canadian director, performer and playwright Madd Harold (left) directs Theatre @ York’s production of Rhinoceros. As a co-founder and artistic director of Montreal’s acclaimed indie theatre company, Gravy Bath Productions, Harold earned national recognition and two Best Director MECCAs (Montreal English Critics Circle Awards). His award-winning stage productions with the company include The Tempest; The Picture of Dorian Gray; Coriolanus; the five-hour epic, Kali Yuga; and Henry. Octobre. 1970

A classically trained actor, Harold has played many roles in New York, London, Edinburgh, Montreal and Toronto. Selected credits include the film The Day After Tomorrow and television productions Terry (CTV), Tripping the Wire (CTV), 15/Love (YTV) and Audrey Hepburn (ABC). His book, The Actors’ Guide to Performing Shakespeare, is sold internationally.

Harold comes to Theatre @ York fresh from a year at the Stratford Festival, where he assistant directed The Merchant of Venice and Pentecost.

At York, Harold is working with a cast of fourth-year actors in the Department of Theatre. Together, the director and performers uncovered the contemporary resonance of the themes of conformity and transformation underpinning Rhinoceros.

“We looked at conformity in our own lives, our impulse to ‘fit in’, the small ways in which we drive others to conform, and our incessant need to seek approval from others and to find identity in others’ opinions,” said Harold.

Right: Eugene Ionesco

“We asked ourselves: what might ‘rhinoceroses’ mean to us today? What is our mass-mind, what are our prevailing social standards, what is our expression of ‘group-think’?” 

Theatre @ York’s production of Rhinoceros is designed and constructed entirely by undergraduate students in York’s Theatre Department.

Previews take place Nov. 4 and 5 and the play runs Nov. 6-10. All performances begin at 7pm, in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, Accolade East Building, on York’s Keele campus. Special matinee performances take place Nov. 7and 9, at 1pm.

General admission tickets are $15. Tickets for students and seniors are $10. Tickets for the Nov. 4 preview performance are pay-what-you-can and tickets for the Nov. 5 preview are $5 each. For more information, visit the Box Office Web site or call ext. 55888.