September 30, 2023

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IAF to host reading performances of Eugène Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”

TEHRAN – Shahnaz Hall of the Iranian Artists Forum (IAF) will be playing host to reading performances of the Romanian-French writer Eugène Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” with four different Persian translations. 

The performances set for August 12 to 15 will be directed by Keivan Kasirian with a cast of 23 actors, including Mohsen Bahrami, Parisa Moqtadi, Afsun Afshar, Nasser Mardani, Shahrokh Rahmani, Elnaz Parviz, Farzin Purmohebi and Bita Jamali. 

During the initial reading on Saturday, “Rhinoceros” will be presented with the translation by the renowned Iranian novelist and short story writer Jalal Al-e Ahmad, while the following day will feature the translation by stage director Pari Saberi. 

The play will be read on Monday with the translation provided by translator Sahar Davari.

The reading performances will then conclude on Tuesday with the translation by the writer and translator Media Kashigar.

In Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”, the inhabitants of a small, provincial French town turn into rhinoceroses. Ultimately, the only human who does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis is the central character, Bérenger, a flustered everyman figure who is initially criticized in the play for his drinking, tardiness and slovenly lifestyle, and then, later, for his increasing paranoia and obsession with the rhinoceroses. 

The play is often read as a response and criticism to the sudden upsurge of Fascism and Nazism during the events preceding World War II, and explores the themes of conformity, culture, fascism, responsibility, logic, mass movements, mob mentality, philosophy and morality.

Although the play was originally published in 1959, it’s worth noting that Ionesco had been residing in France since 1938. During that time, he personally experienced the challenging period of German occupation which lasted from 1940 to 1944.

Throughout this period, he witnessed numerous instances of French individuals adapting to the state of occupation in ways that clashed with his own convictions. Initially, they denounced the German regimes as brutal and tyrannical, but as time passed, they gradually assimilated and embraced them. 

A significant number of French individuals joined the French Communist Party while also expressing their endorsement of Nazism. During this period, France was also plagued by significant racial tensions, which played a crucial role in shaping certain elements of this play. 

“Rhinoceros” brilliantly depicted all of these ideas through the use of metaphors.

Ionesco’s works often portray the loneliness and insignificance of human existence, resulting in provocative and divisive plays.  



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