About this time one year ago I was standing in the Diver Studio Theatre delivering lines to an unmasked audience sitting close enough to hear one another breathe. Now I perform for a tiny blue dot, sitting at my desk beside a mountainous pile of coffee cups, careful not to move my head too quickly lest I wrench my microphone out of my laptop. Absurd. The word describes the way many people feel about the world at the moment, and the word describes Rhinoceros.
Absurdity is often defined by a disconnect, a reaching and a failure to touch. We strive to make sense of the world, and the world bluntly refuses to provide us the logic and reason we seek. We try to genuinely and earnestly communicate with others, but we can never be truly sure what’s going on behind their eyes. Rhinoceros, and Theatre of the Absurd in general, does not try to explain or solve this feeling. How could it? It simply attempts to present it. In seeing the chaotic, muddled existence of a play like this we learn something about the world. We might not be able to put our finger on what or why, but it stays with us. It’s the reason these stories have endured and been told the world over.
It’s a struggle. These plays depict a struggle to be heard and understood. A struggle to exist and exist meaningfully. Making this play has been a struggle in much the same way. While the inhabitants of this small French town reach to be heard and understood and to understand one another, the actors playing them reach to connect over vast space and time conveyed by only a glowing screen and static air. They depict the ferocity of a human turning into a beast in a series of frozen poses or walking miles carrying bags of props that might be used in a single shot. Their shouts, cries, laughs, and coughs reach the walls of their dorms, apartments, or garages muffled by the recording booths they’re huddled within.
I don’t think I’m looking for a silver lining when I say these challenges have helped us. They helped us make this, and it couldn’t have been made any other way. It was an absurd process born of this absurd world, as it was meant to be.
-Kieran Andrews '21