Friday, July 13, 2012

Classic, iconic, timeless -- these are just a few of the words that can be used in reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's "No Exit." But the one word that OUR Theatre company honed in on in choosing to produce this masterpiece in this year's Capital Fringe is who. Who am I? Who are you? Who are we? Questions each and every individual asks themselves everyday, sometimes consciously, but more often unconsciously. It is the central question that the three antihero's of No Exit grapple with behind the walls of that small locked room of Sartre's hell."Who am I" is a question that actors often ask themselves, not only unconsciously, but consciously,  and deliberately, from show to show, scene to scene, moment to moment. And the performers of No Exit have had a blast digging into the psyches of these characters, but not without some trepidation in dealing with such complex layers in the three. OUR Theatre's production of No Exit has been adapted for today's DC Fringe audiences, one of the most challenging aspects of this production. With the play's finely woven plot and philosophical hypothesis of existentialism, adapting Sartre can one of the most difficult artistic endeavors one can attempt. Still, OUR theatre has done so, and almost seven decades after their world premier, the three damned souls are still going at it, different in many ways, but with the same old human vices that made them doomed sinners, 68 years ago. This production will be unmistakably No Exit, bringing the question more into the awareness of Fringe audiences:  Who am I? Who are you? Who are they? Who are we? -- primary questions due in large part to the ever shrinking global community in which we live, where we constantly answer the question, whether it be by managing our image through social media, choosing to flirt with the attractive person in the supermarket, or participating in a political protest or exercise. It's all affected by who he or she is, who we are, who they are, because we are all linked together in this life, and, in Sartre's metaphorical afterlife, in death as well. In the play Sartre shows us that imprisonment isn’t created by the prison itself, but what we do with the boundaries we are given, boundaries that come from the questions, and can be overcome in answering the questions.  No Exit, and iconic play. If you've seen it, come out and enjoy it again and afresh at the Capital Fringe, and if you haven't...then yeah you should.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Jung Weil as Esther (Estelle in Sartre's original French language script), Hilary Kacser as Anne (Inès) and Kenny Littlejohn as Chad (Garcin).

Thursday, July 5, 2012


No Exit -- OUR (One Universal Race) Theatre Company, at Capital Fringe Festival
Venue Name:  "B103" (inside Mount Vernon Square United Methodist Church)
900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001
beautifully air-conditioned
FR 7/13 6:15PM                   TH 7/26 10:00PM                   SA 7/28 6:00PM      
SA 7/14 8:00PM                   FR 7/27 9:00PM                     Run Time: under 80 min.       

No Exit, a brief look back

No Exit is French playwright Jean-Paul Sartre's most well known work, originally titled in French Huis Clos, meaning In Camera, a legal term for a meeting behind closed doors, with a secondary movie industry usage, meaning "closed set."  The play has been performed countless times under English translation titles, In Camera, No Way Out, Dead End, among others, but is most commonly known in the United States by the title No Exit. Studied, quoted, and written about more than all of his other works combined, No Exit is indeed Sartre’s legacy. For your reading pleasure, here is another 2 cents worth. You only need to do a web search of the name of the play No Exit to see a vast amount of conflicting and contradictory commentary and analysis written about it. There is as slight bit of irony in there being such a wide range of interpretations of this work:  perhaps Sartre himself would have thought of this, wherein lies the reality “hell is other people,” his most famous quote of the play.  Some of these disparities are simply misinterpretation stemming for the language barrier, and meaning being lost in translation, but that's a discussion for another post.  Still, the interest and wide range of opinions about this play remain largely relevant 68 years after it's premier at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May of 1944.  Why?  The answer to this could lie mostly in the fact that No Exit is more than simply a play dealing with the human condition, but a philosophy about the essence of who we are as beings, a philosophy which had much to do with the time period in which it was written.  No Exit premiered just before the liberation of Paris in World War II, a time that this generation of theatre audience have studied and are well educated enough to appreciate in history, but will never truly know what is was to live post World War II.  The Great War generation lived in a time of less faith, and high uncertainty:  Practically the entire world at war, with weapons capable of mass destruction and death on a scale unlike any the world had ever seen.  The United States was not long out of the Great Depression, and was only beginning its ascension as a world "Super Power" after the war.  That time was also the dawn of the nuclear age, where in the coming years, the end of civilization with the press of a single button was a daily reality.  It was a time when mankind worldwide lived with their mortality at the forefront of consciousness.  It is in the awareness of the reality of life and death that human beings seek a deeper understanding of the meaning of life and us.  Who Am I?  It is a timeless question, and by the principles of existentialism, it is a question answered by a lifetime.  Whether or not you agree with this belief does not change the question, for any individual.  This is why No Exit remains such a popular and relevant play, from May 1944 to July 2012.  And if you don't know, no need to "ask somebody," you can see for yourself starting in OUR Theatre's production of No Exit as part of the DC Capital Fringe beginning Friday July, 13 6:15pm at B103 Mount Vernon Square Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave, NW DC 20001.  Let's get on with it….