Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
No Way Out
by Jean-Paul Sartre, translated by Frank Hauser
Tue 1 - Sat 5 April 2014 at 7.30pm
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Sheep Street, Northampton Map
Josh Judd, director
No Way Out is Frank Hauser's translation of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist play Huis Clos. It depicts the post-life punishment of three deceased characters trapped in one room for eternity with NO WAY OUT.
CAST & CREW
Garcin Gavin Harrison
Estelle Lisa Shepherd
Ines Gemma Knight
Waiter Gabriel Abrahams
Director Josh Judd
Projection and Tech Ethan Monk
Set Construction Mark Mortimer
Lighting and Sound Richard Walker
Costumes Clare Brittain, The Works
Wig Styling Sidonie McDowell
Working props Lauren Hubbard
Photography Joe Brown
Print Design Tamsyn Payne
Publicity Kirsty Spence
Front of House Masque Theatre members
The play is the source of one of Sartre's most famous and often misinterpreted quotations: "Hell is other people" which is more a reference to Sartre's theory on "the Look" and the constant ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object in a world of other consciousnesses, rather than the irritation that may be caused to be perpetually in the company of other people. No Way Out (amongst a selection of Sartre's other fictional literature including but not limited to: Nausea, The Flies and The Age of Reason) can be considered a helpful companion piece to Sartre's magnum opus, Being and Nothingness and to a number of his other philosophical essays/lectures such as Existentialism is a Humanism.
In both of these aforementioned texts Sartre explores what it means to exist and how existence in all things precedes its essence. He makes the distinction between material Being (or 'Being-In-Itself') and consciousness ('Being-For-Itself) which is born into the material reality of the body, in a material universe and therefore finds itself inserted into Being. However, what we then find is that we are not the only consciousness for this to have happened to which introduces the notion of 'The Other'. The mere presence of the Other causes an individual to see themselves as an object for the Other and to see their world as it appears to the Other and therefore recognise the subjectivity of the Other as well as their own. It is this concept of the Other and the Other's 'Look' that Sartre is specifically addressing in No Way Out.
My intention is to wholly represent Sartre's theory of "the Look" using not only the dialogue provided by the man himself but also by implementing modern multi-media devices; attaching discrete POV cameras to each performer linked up to projectors, beaming the image onto screens around the performance space. The audience will be able to see the action on-stage as well as at least two screens displaying the point of view of two characters enabling the audience to really get inside the character's heads and experience "the Look" of the Other first-hand as well as actually being the Other too.
One by one each character is introduced to us as they are ushered by the peculiar and somewhat otherworldly Valet into a room decked out with “Second-Empire” French furniture and little else to suggest what could lie in store. Garcin, a self-proclaimed pacifist, is the first to enter the room, complaining about the whereabouts of his toothbrush, followed shortly by Ines (a lesbian postal clerk) and Estelle (a fickle blonde gold-digger), both of whom mistake Garcin to be someone he is not. It is by the time all of our characters have arrived that there is no doubt that we are peering into the very enclosed Hell of these three individuals. What they have done to be sent there and how they cope with being constantly under the watchful look of the Other? That is where the philosophy ends and the human drama begins.
I don't think anyone would admit to relishing the prospect of spending a couple of hours in hell but I was especially wary, having seen excerpts from the play at drama school.
The atmosphere was set from the start; an extremely serious-looking man in a tux ominously opened the door to let us into the performance space. We were greeted by three anachronistic sofas in the centre and three giant screens above the audience seating areas.
It was rather unnerving to be able to see myself projected on the screen opposite me, so I was looking forward to the actors' arrival and the focus being transferred onto them.
The man in the tux was revealed to be Gabriel Abrahams in character as the Waiter, an other-worldly figure who let a flicker of amusement pass his otherwise distant stare, every time an inmate seemed surprised not to find racks and instruments of torture in this hell.
He ushered in each of the protagonists and gave them cryptic clues as to their fate. Garcin (Gavin Harrison) was the first to enter and the first to realise that, ‘Hell is other people’, even after finding it difficult enough being in the room on his own!
Gemma Knight was thoroughly unpleasant as Ines, a creepy lesbian murderess whose advances drove the fickle Estelle (Lisa Shepherd) into Garcin's embrace once all had realised the people back on earth had started to forget them.
Josh Judd's direction was suitably alienating; the actors appeared to be in an ever-shifting game of one-upmanship, counterpointed by a desire to escape into themselves. The oppressive feeling was heightened by the screens which projected the actors from the opposite viewpoint, so there was no escaping and truly ‘No Way Out’.
As an aside, I'd like to add that on Wednesday evening the door handle came off in Garcin's hand towards the end of the performance. Congratulations to him and the other actors for making it seem part of the play. It wasn't until their exit, squeezing round the door frame, that we realised it hadn’t been planned. Josh saved the day by retrieving the handle and ensuring the audience were not stuck in hell for eternity ourselves.
Page last updated: 15/07/2014 Masque Theatre © 2014
Gavin Harrison as Garcin and Lisa Shepherd as Estelle. Photo by Joe Brown