VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre begins its season with Eugène Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” running Sept. 28 – Oct. 8 in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre.
The production uses abstract drumming to tell the story of a small village in France where the townsfolk are, one by one, transformed from humans into wild rhinoceroses.
“By using timpani drums, we can replicate the chaos of the stampeding but then we can morph that sound into a driving, marching beat. Using the sound gives it both a sense of liveness and, hopefully, a sense of dread at the end of the play,” said Raimondo Genna, chair of the Department of Theatre at USD.
Dan Frye, from Branford, Connecticut, is a junior majoring in Acting and plays the central role of Berenger, who struggles hard against becoming another in the growing mass of rhinos. “We did our first rehearsals on a grid, with everyone moving along the same lines and angles, which mirrored the sense of mindless conformity to the town. And even though we are working with microphones, it was still a challenge to learn how to project over the sound of the timpani drums,” said Frye.
Katie Meirose, from Sturgis, South Dakota, is a senior double majoring in Acting and Anthropology, and plays the role of Berenger’s friend Jean. “It’s Theatre of the Absurd. It’s not like anything I’ve ever worked on before. I think it’s great for audiences to get to see a play like this that isn’t usually performed,” said Meirose.
“Rhinoceros” performs September 28 – 30 and October 4 – 7 7:30 p.m. with matinee performances on October 1 and 8 at 2:00 p.m. in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre on the USD campus. Tickets ($15 Adults, $12 Senior Citizen [62+], $10 K-12 & non-USD students with ID, and $5 USD students with ID) can be purchased at the USD Theatre Box Office or by calling (605) 677-5400. Tickets can also be purchased online.