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Written by Eugène Ionesco
Directed by Parjad Sharifi

March 14-23, 2024

Rhinoceros is a humorous and absurdist masterwork by Eugène Ionesco, written in 1959. The play comments on the dangers of conformity and acts as a metaphor to depict the rise of fascism and totalitarian ideologies. Rhinoceros challenges audiences to ask critical existential questions about human will and responsibility in today's global crisis. Set in a small French town, the play centers around the character Berenger, an everyman figure who is initially presented as a slacker and outsider. As the play progresses, the town is gradually taken over by rhinoceroses. Berenger finds himself increasingly isolated and powerless as he watches his friends and fellow citizens succumb to a bizarre transformation. 

Director Q&A

Parjad Sharifi


  1. Tell us about your Theatre experience and your role as the director in the upcoming production Rhinoceros.

"I began my journey in theatre by studying and practicing directing as an undergraduate student in Iran. In my early theatre practice, I directed productions such as Jean Cocteau’s Infernal Machine and co-created and co-directed Memory Machine, which premiered at the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2008. Additionally, I created and directed a performance installation titled Chronos of A Dead Machine, which was presented in London in 2010.

For years, I have served as a professional theatre scenographer, specializing in set, lighting, and projection design. I have collaborated with various independent and experimental theatre companies such as Leaky Heaven, Fighting with Stick, and Theatre Conspiracy, contributing as both a creator and a deviser. In recent years, I have directed productions of Yasmina Reza's "Art" and August Strindberg's "Pariah (Outcast)" at UFV."

  1. Why was the play Rhinoceros chosen for this year’s production?

"Rhinoceros, written by Eugène Ionesco, stands as one of the masterpieces of absurdist dramatic literature. Through working on this play, students delve into the stylistically unique realm of absurdist theatre, both in its design and performance. Absurdist drama, characterized by its distinctive language, often explores themes of miscommunication and the breakdown of logic. Rhinoceros holds particular significance as it was written in the aftermath of World War II, serving as a stark commentary on the horrors of fascism and conformity. In our contemporary era, marked by wars, conflicts, and violence, the play's themes remain alarmingly relevant. I firmly believe that staging Rhinoceros can shed light on the darker aspects of humanity, including war, violence, and destruction. Moreover, the influence of social media in modern society cannot be overlooked. At times, it perpetuates consumerism and conformity, mirroring the themes explored in Rhinoceros."

  1. Can you tell us what makes this production unique, what types of performance techniques will be explored, and how will multimedia be integrated?

"In this production, we are incorporating numerous unique and creative ideas, including advertisements. I won't divulge further details about the ads to maintain the element of surprise for the audience. Additionally, our set design adopts a retro-futurist aesthetic, complemented by conceptual projections that add layers of meaning to the production.

Our student actors are diligently working to bring the characters to life. However, this play presents a challenge due to its absurdist and nonsensical dialogue at times."

  1. What do you want audience members to take away from this production?

"I aim for the audience to enjoy the comedy while also contemplating the darker aspects of the human condition. These include the absurdity of relentless consumerism in a capitalist society and the horrors of violence and warfare. Ideally, the audience will depart the theatre with a sense of wonderment and lingering questions."

  1. Can you describe the types of opportunities students have working in this production, (such as the stage manager, costume/hair makeup), and what are the types of skills that students are learning and building on during this production?

"In this production, students will have various opportunities to take on roles as stage managers and designers across different areas, including set, costume, lighting, and projections. Additionally, we have a cast of thirteen students portraying various characters from Rhinoceros."

  1. Finally, can you share with us what makes you passionate about Theatre and Performance?

"Theatre stands out as one of the most immersive and immediate forms of human expression. In a theatre space, we have the remarkable ability to recreate time and space in real-time, transporting audiences to unimaginable places. This magical quality of theatre is what captivates me the most - the ability to journey to any location and era at any moment."


Béatrice Frenette | The Grocer's Wife

Béatrice Frenette is in her final semester at UFV, completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Theatre.  For the production of Rhinoceros, Béatrice has taken on the role of the Grocer’s Wife and is super excited to be back on stage for the first time in a long time! Throughout her years at UFV, she has studied and worked behind the scenes in the theatre department as a director, assistant stage manager, theatre assistant, and assistant stage manager of props and costumes. What better way to end her degree by trying something out of her comfort zone and appearing on stage! The highlight of this production for Béatrice has been the memories she has made during rehearsals with her fellow cast mates.

Marc Cretien | The Old Gentleman & A Fireman, Assistant Director

“I am playing both the Grocer and Fireman in Rhinoceros. I am currently attending UFV full time and am planning on majoring in Psychology. I used to be a member of the improv club at WJ Mouat. I have always enjoyed theatre as a creative outlet and as a method for self-expression. Collaboration has always been my favourite aspect of theatre. Everyone’s ideas coming together to make the best product possible has always been what I’ve enjoyed most”.

Chloe Loewen | The Housewife, Choreographer

"I play the Housewife and am working on some of the choreography in Rhinoceros. I was in plays in both high school and middle school, and I have been dancing for eight years. I am currently studying English and am planning to take the Library Technology program at UFV next semester. Throughout this production, I have enjoyed getting to know the talented and passionate people in the cast. I hope to one day produce a play that I write".

Liam Troan | Dudard & The Grocer

Liam Troan is playing the role of Dudard and is thrilled to be participating in this production of Rhinoceros. He is incredibly happy with how open and safe a space this team has provided to explore the many different facets of creativity that come together to form any production. Liam is currently enrolled in UFV as a full-time theatre student and will be pursuing a career in theatre. He has previously acted in several musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof in 2017 and The Sound of Music in 2018. Liam hopes that he can bring the wonder and amazement to the audience that he felt when first discovering theatre.

Harshit Sharma | Mr. Papillon

“I am Harshit Sharma, and I play the role of Mr. Papillon in this production where each day is a new learning adventure that I truly enjoy. Presently, I am enrolled in the BCIS program at UFV. Balancing academics with this is quite an experience where I find both joy and growth. This first-time experience in theatre is a dream fulfilled, allowing me to explore the enchanting world of storytelling.

Grae Markiw | Mrs. Boeuf

"My name is Grae Markiw and I'm so proud to be a part of this year's production of Rhinoceros, where I'll be playing Ms. Boeuf! I've loved theatre since I started high school and was in the musical Hairspray, where I played Little Inez and motor Mouth Maybelle. Alongside the play and my other courses, I've been working on my branding business and just trying to enjoy life! I'm hoping to gain more confidence in my skills as an actress and make lasting memories!"

Abbye Mozar | The Logician

“I am super excited to continue my passion for acting by playing the Logician in Rhinoceros. When I’m not in rehearsal, you can find me either dancing, singing, painting, and of course acting. While I’ve done musical theater throughout middle and high school, this is my first show with UFV, and I’m so grateful to be part of this incredibly supportive and welcoming cast and crew”.

Eden Verster | The Café Proprietor

“Hey, I’m Eden! I am 21 years old and a third-year student here at UFV. Along with getting my bachelor’s degree with a major in theatre, I work and babysit as well. The thing that I have really enjoyed about taking this course is not only the fact that I have met this new group of incredibly talented individuals, but how we’ve become family. I have done musical theatre throughout high school, but my highlight would be playing Pugsley Addams in my high schools Addams family the musical”.

Abdullah Hamid | Botard

"Hi, my name is Abdullah. I am one of the actors in Rhinoceros. I am playing the character of Botard. This production has been a great learning experience as an actor. I am having the opportunity to showcase as well as hone my acting talent. Our director Parjad provides great ideas (often very comical ideas) for playing our characters. I am a full time UFV student, and this semester I have taken three theater courses. Outside of school, I like learning Salsa and other Latin dance types and staying active in other ways too. My previous theater experience involved taking theater courses where I acted in scenes with other actors as well as scenes with monologues".

Jessica Blanchard | Daisy

“Hi, my name is Jessica Blanchard, and I play Daisy in this year’s production of Rhinoceros. This will be my seventh show in the last eight years I've been doing theatre. Thus far I have really enjoyed getting to know the cast and bonding with everyone. I'm a first-year academic student getting my Bachelor of Arts in English literature with a double minor in creative writing and theatre, and overall, this is my second year of university.  In my first year, I took a culinary arts trade and received two tickets. My hobbies include baking, writing, knitting and book club! My wish to fulfill in theatre is to have fun and explore my love for acting”.

Braydan Dades | The Waiter

Kyle Pagulyan | Berenger

Kyle plays Berenger in UFV's production of Rhinoceros. This will be Kyle's third production and his first time with a lead role. Theatre has been his passion since middle school, and throughout high school he participated in as much of the theatre and film scene as he could, given COVID-19's restrictions. Currently enrolled in the theatre program in his second year at UFV, Kyle hopes to graduate and become a theatre teacher himself. He is incredibly honoured to be working alongside such a talented cast and crew, and eagerly awaits opening night!

Owen Occleshaw | Jean


Christopher Sibyl Benedicto | Stage Manager

Top (Chris) is in his last semester as a student in the Theatre Diploma program at UFV. He is the Stage Manager for this show, his second time for UFV after last year's The Laramie Project. He has also previously worked backstage for dance concerts and children's musicals. He enjoys the whole process of preparing for a production and the culmination in its showing, and he hopes to forge a career in this field moving forward.

Haley Bamford | Set Designer

Hayley is a designer based in the lower mainland pursuing a double major in theatre and film with a minor in visual arts at UFV. Primarily focusing on set design and stage-management, Hayley has always enjoyed working in multiple aspects of theatre. Recent projects include The SpongeBob Musical (CSOPA, ASM), SHINE (F.A.E productions, ASM/Head Decor), Disney’s Descendants the Musical (CSOPA, ASM/TD/Set Design). Upcoming projects include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Gallery 7, Set Design), Finding Nemo Jr (CSOPA, SM), and Dolls of New Albion (9 Lives, SM/Set Design). 

Doris (Yi-Hsuan) Huang | Lighting Designer

Doris is the lighting designer for Rhinoceros. She is pursuing her BA degree with a theatre major. She was involved in multiple productions at UFV in previous semesters from frontstage actor to backstage crew. This is her final semester, and she aims to pursue her career in the theatre industry after graduation. Doris loves rhinoceroses regardless of how many horns they have.

Franco Ruiz de Castilla | Projection Designer

“Hello! I’m Franco “Frank” Ruiz De Castilla, I’m working on Rhinoceros as a projectionist. This is my first time working as part of a production team and I’m excited to learn how the process works first-hand. Currently I’m aiming to get my Bachelor of Media Arts while still working full time alongside studies (I’m very tired). Before this, my only previous theater experiences have been some small roles back over one high-school semester. As I’m more interested in film; however, I will always appreciate the experience of working with a production team and timeline!"

Vikash Gill | Sound Designer

“I have the role of sound designer for Rhinoceros. I enjoy trying to find different types of music and sound effects to use for the production. I have been in the theatre program at UFV since 2015. I strive to become a writer/director in the future”.

Taya Viger | Head of Props/Props Builder

Taya is a third-year theatre student and a part-time barista. She has taken on the role of Head of Props for this show. She’s been performing for almost a decade; however, this is her first time taking on a production role in theatre. Taya has enjoyed collaborating with the creative team to create a fun and colourful world for the actors to play in.

Asha Thapa | Costume Assistant

“My name is Asha Thapa. I am an international student from Nepal studying Bachelor of Arts in UFV. I am a passionate enthusiast stepping onto the vibrant stage of theatre with eagerness and a heart full of dreams. My journey into the world of theatre began as a spark in my imagination. I am a second-year student, working as a costume assistant as part of my studies. I am helping costume designers in the process of research and conceptualization of fabric and material selection, measurements and fittings, organization and maintaining wardrobe, documentation, budget management, communication, and coordination. Even without previous experiences working with this amazing team, I have found solace and inspiration in the magic of live performances, sparking a curiosity that has now blossomed into a full-fledged passion. I’ve come to learn a lot more artistic and creative things including the efforts done by actors and the production team, and still want to go deeper in this field to know how theatre is related to the audience and their emotional catharsis like idealization of relationship, escapism, heroic journeys, fantasy, and magic, etc. I also want to grow more in the field of media and film industry.”

Sterling Kai Pollock | Costume Designer

Sterling Pollock is returning for another production. This time, he is working as a costume co-designer for Rhinoceros, tackling half the designs, working on his collaborative skills, being a team player, and building confidence in his ideas while learning to take feedback and opinions of others, but remaining confident in his choices. He has gotten ready for this experience by his past work on Antigone, Pariah, Climate Change Theatre Action, Pericles, and Ghosting of Sumas Lake. This time, he is motivated to gain experience working as a costume designer, enjoying the challenges of a tight deadline, working on tweaking designs with feedback, learning how to build a design concept from the director ‘s vision and eager to see it come to life on stage. He is taking this opportunity to further fill in the gaps in his theatre knowledge. He wants to give a special thanks to Heather Robertson for continuing to help educate him and working with him again. It’s a pleasure to be back and working on another show.


Samerpreet Singh | Assistant Stage Manager

“My name is Samerpreet singh. I am Assistant Stage Manger for this production. As this was my first theatre experience, I enjoyed it a lot with the other students. Learning about managing was a fun part of the experience. Currently, I am attending school as an international student while working in a full-time job. I also play lawn tennis professionally and love to workout. I don’t have any previous theatre experience. I want to learn more about technical theatre and get a job in the field”.

Brooklyn Doornbos | Running Crew/Dresser

“My name is Brooklyn and for this production I am helping as a dresser. I have been a part of other productions, such as Climate Change Theatre Action and the Devised Showcase: Sound of Mind. Alongside this production, I work as a lifeguard and study both in the theater and psychology departments”.

Adam Nelson | Sound Operator

Adam Nelson is working as the Sound Operator on Rhinoceros and has enjoyed seeing how a production is put together from start to finish. They are currently enjoying a theatre major, and in their spare time they work at a homeless day shelter while also spending time with their beautiful wife. Adam does not have much theatre experience; however, they have acted in church plays throughout their childhood and teen years. It’s their hope to learn more about how a soundscape is produced for a production.

Prabhnoor Singh | Lighting Assistant/Board Operator

Prabhnoor is a first-year art student at UFV, pursuing a degree in the field. He is keen to be involved and learn about the process of creating theatre because he is interested in both culture and theatre. This position for Rhinoceros is his first time working on a theatre show and he is very much looking forward to being involved in future productions.

CJ Rafter | Hair and Make-up Designer



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