RHINOCEROS: Bound to Make a Lot of Dust

Rhinoceros first crash landed into my life (pun intended) on February 6th of 2012. I was sitting on my bed, and when the email pinged onto my screen it took a few deliberate moments for the slow smile to bloom on my face. I was going to Stage Manage Rhinoceros.

I was going to be working with an MFA Directing student, Chelsea Haberlin, who I had heard nothing but incredible things about for the past year. The designers were colleagues of mine, all of whom I whole heartedly believe to be creative geniuses. We were to be putting on a play in the unique and quirky Telus Studio Theatre. And hey – it had a kickass name like RHINOCEROS!

Needless to say… I was thrilled, but also impatient! It seemed like I waited forever for the ball to start rolling (I worked on four shows between that email and the first production meeting) but as soon as it did I was utterly caught up in the wild, eccentric, heartfelt, absurd and ultimately hilarious journey that has been Rhinoceros.

Every week new beautiful layers were added to the whole. I still remember the oohs and aahs of everyone as Matthew Norman pulled the teeniest, tiniest little table from the floor of the model stage he had painstakingly made. The set? Beyond innovative. It’s a damn pioneer’s endeavour. Won Kyoon Han’s sound design is a cacophony that makes the ground shake, and when I saw Christina Dao’s costumes on the stage for the first time during dress rehearsal I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face until long after curtain call.

Working with Chelsea Haberlin has been wonderful (or rhinocerific… whichever). Besides the fact that she is an utterly lovely personality to be around, she truly has a vision and working with her has never really felt like work. And the cast? All twenty of them? I hope to work with each and everyone one of them again. They haven’t stopped making me laugh since the first read. They are all hugely talented, wonderful people, and I adore them all.

Oh! And I have learned a lot about pachyderms. What they eat, the way they move, what they sound like, where they live (and depending on that, how many horns they have). I have formed a strange attachment to the rhinoceros, and I doubt said attachment will go away any time soon.

Now, all that said, I am in no way saying this show hasn’t been a challenge. Every morsel of this process has been a wild and somewhat deviant ride. We’ve encountered everything from smoke machine restrictions to trap door malfunctions to snow days to feedback that made the entire building vibrate. And now, here we are on the other side, ready to open a show I know we are all massively proud of. From my view, first from the rehearsal space and now from the technical booth, I have seen Rhinoceros evolve into an experience everyone should take the time to see.

Because even if you’ve seen this particular Eugene Ionesco play put on before, I promise you…. you’ve never, nor will you ever again, see it done quite like this…


~ Guest post by Jayda Paige Novak, BFA Theatre Production student

Note: To find out more about the production or purchase tickets visit the Rhinoceros Show Site.

Actors: L-R Alen Dominguez and Matt Reznek in Rhinoceros
Photo Credit: Nancii Bernard

Rhino Set Design by UBC MFA Design student Matthew Norman



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