Rhinoceros

by Eugene Ionesco directed by Steve McCue
designed for Eldred Theater at Case Western Reserve University opened: March 26, 2004

Sounds

Boef attacks the stairs Download Link

While in the office, Boef (already transformed into a rhinoceros) attempts to climb the wooden stairs in order to get to his wife. They collapse.

Rhinoceros Nightmare Download Link

At the opening of Act III, Jean has a nightmare about the rhinoceroses taking over.

Rhinos on the phone Download Link

Jean picks up the phone only to hear rhinoceroses on the other end.

Rhino Stampede Download Link

The final rhinoceros stampede from the end of the play. The animalistic rhinoceros noises crossed the space with the theater's quadraphonic surround setup. Pitch shifted crowd noises were mixed in for the human touch.

Design Concept

What intrigued me most about the design for this show was the merging of human and animal, and I intended to recreate that transition aurally. To create the Rhinoceros noises, I digitally modified my own voice while groaning and grunting into the microphone. To totally immerse the audience, I had the rhinoceroses stampede through the stereo field in the theater.

The music was also a major feature of the production. French café music started the show, and it eventually devolved into dark modern pieces with repetitive ostinato. I leaned heavily on the music of John Cage and Steve Reich in the end, as well as an odd accordian piece I can no longer identify.

Design Analysis

This design was my first so I have a fond memory of it. Unfortunately, all supporting paperwork seems to have been lost in the shuffle; no archives remain to my knowledge.

In retrospect, I’m impressed I actually pulled this design off. The rhinoceroses sound very convincing and heightened the comic effect when necessary. If I had a chance to redesign this show, I would want to take a more sinister angle with the creatures, as well as better isolate the sound and manipulate the stereo field a bit more expertly.