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(Left to right) Payton Wilks (Mr. Papillon), Sarah Corey (Mrs. Beouf) and Michael Dias (Berenger) perform Eugene Ionesco's "Rhinoceros" at the Forum Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Tantrum Theater’s ‘Rhinoceros’ stomps onto Forum Theater stage

Students and professionals worked seamlessly together Friday night in Forum Theater during Tantrum Theater’s first production of the academic year: Rhinoceros.

In Eugene Ionescos’ avant-garde-style piece, a whimsy, flouncing drunkard, Berenger, is forced to confront both his own humanity and the ever-encompassing beliefs of the society surrounding him, watching how those he knows and loves change with the society. The performance will run until Dec. 7 at Forum Theater, including a show with ASL interpretation Dec. 5.

“It's comedic in the way that it presents itself in,” Joshua Coy, Tantrum Theater’s interim producing director, said.

Within the entertaining, engaging show is a heavily implied representation of fascism in Europe after WWI.

“It was really written in response to fascism. That's the origin,” Coy said. “ ... (Playwright Eugene Ionescos) experienced that in Europe.”

Micheal Dias, a graduate student studying acting, embodies this experience with his heartened, playful portrayal of Berenger. His character’s unique, lively stage presence brought the audience into each scene, pulling them in at the show’s most pivotal moments while keeping them laughing along the way.

Daisy, played by Janai Lashon, a graduate student studying acting, gave a riveting and endearing performance as Daisy brought both joy and fire to the performance. 

The show's set was minimalistic and geometric in design. Fascinating square lights outlined both above and on the stage. The intricate lighting design brought the world just outside the view of the stage to life.

Blending this fantasy world together was a mix of professional actors and students on their way to becoming these characters, transporting their audience to the formerly serene futuristic world in which the show is set.

Gary-Kayi Fletcher, an industry professional making his Tantrum Theater debut, switched seamlessly between the characters of Old Gentleman and Botard with the ease of a simple costume change, bringing two very different, intricate characters to the show. 

Bianca Binneman’s costume design pulled together the futuristic theme with bright, playful colors and a detail-heavy costume for each character. Even the characters' makeup, set in flashy, neon colors added to the immersion.

There were many students in the audience, including Ava Correnti, a freshman studying special education. She enjoyed the costumes in the performance but felt there was something missing.

“The show is pretty good, but I wanted to see a rhino,” Correnti said.

Other students, like Jenna Bowers, a sophomore studying English, said she enjoyed the dramatic, unexpected aspects of the lighting.

“It’s unique to all the other plays I’ve seen,” Bowers said. “I like the lights and the setup of the stage.” 

Tantrum Theater company is unique in that it is a professional theatre company that allows students to work and interact with industry professionals during the school year, leaving their summers open for other internship opportunities they may have.

“Tantrum is a professional theater company, so we do have some professional paid actors, national stage managers, scenic design and the sound design,” Coy said.

Another distinct aspect of the company is the theater industry professionals who come and live here in the city of Athens.

“This is, like, the first time we've had those kinds of artists come here to perform, and you know, these are the folks that are living here for two months ... They're becoming part of the Athens community for short term, and they had a really, really great experience,” Coy said.

This may be Tantrum’s first show of the academic year here at the Athens campus, but they have had a three-year history at the Ohio University branch in Dublin.

“It gives us the opportunity to really become more embedded as a part of the creative community here for Athens and the university, so we're pretty excited about that,” Coy said.


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