With permission from the Sartre estate, Quintessence Theater’s Founding Artistic Director Alex Burns, has written a new translation from the original French! This is the World Premiere.
The existential No Exit (Huis Clos, en français) was first performed at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May 1944. In 1964 Sartre refused a Nobel Prize in literature, saying “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution.”
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre, a towering literary figure, was known principally as a playwright. He was also a novelist, screenwriter, political activist, literary critic, biographer, Doctor of Philosophy, a Marxist, and one of the chief adherents of existentialism. Born in 1905, he died in 1980. By all accounts he was uncomfortable and outrageous.
In the play Garcin (J. Hernandez) insists he’s not a torturer, and he notes that for some reason his wife shot 12 holes into his jacket. And Estelle (Aneesa Neibauer) threw her baby out the window. The Valet is the majordomo of Hell (Gabriel W. Elmore). There’s no way out of this hell –slow, quiet, absurd, final.
Sartre’s three irrational characters, condemned, have been living in their own private hell. Absurd and creepy, the vitriolic characters ask, “We three—why are we assembled together?” We in the audience clearly enjoyed this hellish show, although there may be room for more subtlety and fewer loud lines.
Late in the play a surprising occurrence calls into question everything we’ve assumed about the nature of these damned and the circumstances of their confinement. No Exit is not an easy play. It takes first- rate actors to make it tick. Quintessence has them, and they throw themselves entirely into their performances. If you have a mind to see well performed theater that you won’t find elsewhere, you know where to go. Count on Quintessence.
[Quintessence Theatre Group at the Sedgwick Theatre, 7137 Germantown Ave] September 27-October 28, 2023; quintessencetheatre.org
No Exit is one part of Quintessence’s SALVATION & DAMNATION REPERTORY. The other, Major Barbara, is running concurrently.