Rhinoceros: Interview with Director Joseph Timko

John Mauro, Staff Writer

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Staff Writer John Mauro (10) interviews Theatre Teacher and Director of Horace Mann Theatre Company’s Fall Production Joseph Timko and discuss Rhinoceros, a 20th century play about fascism.

Why did you choose Rhinoceros in particular to be HMTC’s Fall production?

Timko: Last March French Teacher Sonya Rotman’s French Seminar class performed the first act in French, and it was such a great play that I decided we should do it in English this fall. The other reason is its story about a village where people are changing one by one into rhinoceroces is very much what’s happening in our culture, so it seemed like it was a relevant thing socially and politically for what’s happening in our country, oddly enough on the week of election.

What creative choices did you make in directing and performing the show?

Timko: Well, together, we’ve made a lot. The fact that the different people are playing the same character in different scenes, partly because there’s so much dialogue to learn, and also to give more actors a chance to do something significant. It’s slow improvisation; you know the words to the play, and you have stage directions; sometimes you follow them and sometimes you don’t. A play isn’t the work of one person; it begins with the playwright, maybe the director, choosing to do it, but once you go into work on it it’s the work of a lot of people harmoniously trying to do it.

What should the audience take away from the performance?

Timko: Whatever they want. It’s not a commercial, it’s a play, and as a play it presents many different points of view including those of the rhinoceroses, and you decide as you watch it what you’re going to take away, who you’re identifying with. It’s a very subtle play, even though the basic story is so simple, one by one, people are turning into Rhinoceroses, there’s a lot of dialogue, it’s fairly complicated both intellectually and emotionally, and you can show the play to the world and they will get what they want from it.