“Hell is — other people.”
French playwright Jean-Paul Sartre wrote these words in his play “No Exit.” The story revolves around three characters, two women and one man, who are locked up in a room in hell. And there’s no way any of them can leave.
Beginning the weekend of Feb. 6, The Indiana Wesleyan Theatre Guild explores this dark dilemma in the Black Box Theatre.
Nate Hudson (so), stage manager for “No Exit,” says the play and those involved want to stretch viewers’ perception of hell.
“We’re playing with the idea of hell being different than what we see it as,” Hudson says. “It’s going to be something that challenges people.”
The play was first proposed theatre major Daniel Maloy (sr) last school year. A theatre advisory board decided if the play was suitable, like all theatre guild plays are determined, and they agreed to show it. The only stipulation the board presented for the the script to omit some words taking God’s name in vain.
“No Exit” Director Steven Wood, assistant professor of theatre, says he wants the audience to rethink the “hell” people experience here on earth.
“I’ve often thought that as Christians we give far too much credit to the forces of hell — and I don’t discredit the New Testament teachings on spiritual warfare — But I hardly think the world “needs” the devil when we have each other,” Wood says.
He compares the play to the book of Judges in the Bible, as the characters do what they think is right in their eyes.
Even though “No Exit” presents a view of hell for a primarily Christian university audience, Wood says it’s the type of play Christians need to see.
“Christians have diverse opinions, feelings and theological positions about hell, but I think it’s fair to generalize that all of them feel that it’s an existence without God’s grace,” Wood says. “If heaven is the place where God’s glory radiates in and through us continually, then hell is that place where the light stops.”
Hudson says the set is designed in the Black Box with ropes along the edge of the stage in an arena setting. This symbolizes the characters being closed in hell. He also says the play will include some audience interaction.
Since the show is emotionally heavy, Hudson and Wood say some actors take breaks during rehearsals to clear their heads and refocus. Wood adds that sometimes as a director, he wants to push students “through the pain,” but there are times to stop rehearsal if an actor is overwhelmed with emotion.
After each performance, Wood says there will be time for discussion, including special Friday night talk-back sessions both weekends.
“No Exit” shows at 7:30 p.m. each night the weekends of Feb. 6-8 and Feb. 13-15 with 2:00 p.m. matinees Feb. 8 and 15.