“The Rhinoceros SpongeBob” explores loneliness of young adults: director
Art and Experience: Sami Salehi-Sabet, the director and writer of “The Rhinoceros SpongeBob”, says the play explores the loneliness of young adults in the world of today.
He said that he decided to stage the play with young adults since the troupe was established to concentrate on daily needs, concerns and emotional trauma of young adults.
The play is based on the American animated comedy TV series “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Eugène Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”, and will be performed onstage at the Tehran Independent Theater today by Bachehaye Shahkar, a Tehran-based troupe for children’s performances.
“Children shout their pains and sorrows in the games they play in every corner of the city. The form of the performance is like a game of young adults playing in the alleys, but the difference of this play from the games is their type of performances,” Salehi-Sabet said.
He added, “The young performers make the audience feel trapped in their game. Any individual can hardly ignore their game while passing by and will stand to watch their game and it is right there the trap begins to work, a trap which reminds of the share of responsibility of the adults against the fates of the youth in the present and future.”
He said that the play is suitable for children above 10, however, there is a good potential for children, young adults and adults to communicate with the play through their own attitudes.
Considering the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic, he said, “We are an independent troupe which must make its own money, and the young performers have been able to keep this troupe working for 10 years, and these days we take the risk and go for the performance.”
“This troupe is a good means to make the society hear the voice of young adults that have been ignored. They are among the minority groups of the society and under normal conditions they were not happy. And now in these hard coronavirus days, they have been ignored much more and are less happy. I think these days are the best days to perform the play,” he concluded.
The play tells the story of a group of youths and young adults that team up to perform a play in the city.
Their play is a combination of “SpongeBob SquarePants” and Eugène Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros”: in the underwater life, all friends and relatives of SpongeBob choose to turn into rhinoceroses for unclear reasons. SpongeBob can do nothing to change their minds, while they begin mocking him. They also taunt SpongeBob about why he doesn’t want to change into a rhinoceros.
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.
Alireza Khodabakhsh, Mana Mokri, Sarina Bonyani and Mehrdad Amani are some members of the cast.
“The Rhinoceros SpongeBob” is the fifth production of the troupe.