Pointless Theatre returns to stage with new translation of ‘Rhinocéros!’

Eugene Ionesco’s anti-fascist satire about herd mentality has a thing or two to say about today. With puppets.

Pointless Theatre is thrilled to announce their first in-person programming since the summer of 2019 — an original translation of Eugene Ionesco’s seminal play Rhinocéros.

First produced in 1959, Rhinocéros presents a small town overrun with radical ideas, clashing ideology, and not-so-subtle transformations. When Bérenger, a local drunk, finds himself surrounded by neighbors who are slowly turning into giant beasts, he’s forced to navigate a new world where the rights of citizens are changing as rapidly as the body of the mob around him.

While the original script serves as an allegory for the rise of fascism in mid-20th-century Europe, the story presents a familiar tone in public discourse and examines the ways in which a public is quickly radicalized.

Pointless adds an exclamation mark to Ionesco’s title: Rhinocéros! Company Member Frank Labovitz helms the project as director and translator. A Helen Hayes Award–winning costume designer, Labovitz brings a sculptor’s eye to the production. “Ionesco’s absurdist look at communities in conflict offers a great opportunity to visualize the kind of radical transformation we’ve seen over the past two years,” says Labovitz. “Representing these transformations with bold designs is the true challenge of this piece.”

Long known for smashing the boundaries between puppetry, music, dance, and the visual arts, Pointless will bring a fresh aesthetic approach to this absurdist touchstone. Employing large-scale puppetry to represent the transformation of people to beast, the production will confront audiences face to face with a cast of life-size creatures.

Performing for the first time in the venue below the Universalist National Memorial Church (1810 16th St NW, DC), the company welcomes audiences to their new home base. “We are pleased to be sharing a space that has been cultivated by other small companies like Spooky Action Theater,” says Matthew Reckeweg, the company’s producing artistic director. “Entering our 13th year with a fresh start, and in a new space, reflects the excitement our artists feel returning to the stage after a long hiatus.”

Rhinocéros! begins previews on March 26, opens April 1, and runs through April 24, 2022, at Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th St NW, Washington, DC. A PWYC performance will take place April 7, 2022. Tickets are on sale now ($22 for students and seniors, $30 for general admission). To purchase, and for more information, visit pointlesstheatre.com.

Running Time: Approximately 80 minutes with one intermission.

COVID Safety: Proof of full vaccination is required for entry. Masks are required when not eating or drinking. Pointless Theatre’s ticket policies and COVID protocols are here.


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