A quiet drawing room, the valet (sophomore Andrew Stam) escorts Joseph Garcin (senior Brady Greer) into the room and leaves. Inés (‘09 grad Hannah McBride) and Estelle (junior Sarah Chipman) join after he’s taken a cursory view of the room. This drawing room that these people are in, of course, represents hell.
“Everybody expects the renaissance depiction of hell—the wracks, the red hot pokers, the burning marl, perpetual burning—but what we get is three people in a quiet drawing room,” says director Jon Manchester. No Exit by Jean-Paul Satre (pronounced Sart), being performed as a “Schoolhouse Project,” gives gives air to Satre’s philosophical voice, as he examines and challenges the audience’s preconceptions of what hell is.
“It’s not a comfortable play,” Manchester comments. “It disrupts your idea and questions your belief in what you know about hell.” The audience, like the characters, expect torturers to show up at any time (Inés originally thinks Garcin is the torturer). The actuality becomes evident soon—they are each others’ torturers. “Hell is other people,” is the famous quote taken from this play, and that is the prevailing philosophy of the play.
Manchester calls it a “great piece of literature” that “needs to be studied in philosophy and religion classes,” the former being where he first encountered this play himself. Manchester claims to have read the play “about a hundred times.” As part of researching the play he’s had conversations with Philosophy Professor Don Wacome and former French professor Madam Sewell.
However, along with it being great literature, Manchester calls it the hardest play he’s ever directed. “It simply consists of three people in a room talking,” and anyone with even a sliver of directing experience can tell you that this makes it difficult keep the audience interested.
Fortunately for him, his actors have made that job a lot easier. Manchester says that the actors he’s working with are “fantastic” and some of the best he’s ever been able to work with. They’re “experienced and seasoned” and a joy to watch.
“My concept of the show is an uncomfortable eternity,” Manchester says. The play script ends about 30 seconds before his production does. That is, he continues the action thirty seconds after the last word is spoken. It’s “very unsettling,” he says.
The final production will be this Friday, October 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Kirk and Julie Hulstein’s one-room schoolhouse. The show runs about an hour and thirty minutes. The show doesn’t have an explicit cost but has a suggested donation of five dollars (the company runs on donations, so whatever you can give is appreciated). Manchester says his goal is, as Aristotle says, “to inform and delight.” The schoolhouse is located near Hulstein’s house (3070 360th Street, Sioux Center).