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No Exit

No Exit
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Jean-Paul Sartre
Adapted by: Paul Bowles
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 60
Pub. Date: 2010
ISBN-10: 0573613052
ISBN-13: 9780573613050
Cast Size: 2 female, 2 male

About the Play:

"L'enfer, c'est les autres" ("Hell is other people") Jean-Paul Sartre, winner of the 1946 Nobel Prize for Literature

No Exit (English-language version of Huis-Clos) is a full-length drama by Jean-Paul Sartre, adapted from the French by Paul Bowles. Imagine yourself in a room with two people whom you've never met. There is no darkness, only light. Each of your thoughts and actions affect the other. You reflect on the past while seeing the present in a world you are no longer a part. Is this Heaven or Hell? You decide in No Exit, a darkly comic masterpiece by Jean-Paul Sartre.

No Exit centres on three strangers – two women and one man each of whom died with the weight of various sins – who find themselves in the afterlife. They are escorted by a valet into a plain room, where they're locked in together. The windows are bricked up; there are no mirrors; the electric lights can never be turned off; and there is no exit. They interrogate each other about why they are there. They soon realize they've been placed together to make each other miserable for eternity, ultimately realizing that this situation will be their Hell. Extravagant life stories, nefarious confessions, and a love triangle come out as the characters work out what to do in Hell. Damned to spend eternity in one another's company, they can only see themselves through one another's eyes. Their curiosity quickly turns cruel. The irony of this Hell is that its torture is not of the rack and fire, but of the burning humiliation of each damned soul as it is stripped of its pretenses by the cruel curiosity of the damned. Here the soul is shorn of secrecy, and even the blackest deeds are mercilessly exposed to the fierce light of Hell. It is an eternal torment in which Hell emerges as the togetherness of people. No Exit is the best-known work of French playwright and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

No Exit in a translation by Paul Bowles was widely praised as a "phenomenon of theatre" when it premiered in 1946 at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway in New York City. The play has become an acting-course favourite and a staple of student theatre groups. It has been performed in regional repertory, fringe festival, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 2 male

What people say:

"No Exit offers a post-Freudian version of Hell." — New York Times

" not only encapsulates Sartre's existentialist philosophy, but left its indelible mark on Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Harold Pinter's hothouse dramas." — The Guardian (UK)

"There's no need for fire and brimstone in No Exit. Jean-Paul Sartre's vision of hell revolves around other people, how they see us, and more importantly, how they can damn us with their very eyes." — The Mercury News

About the Playwright:

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was a French novelist, playwright, and biographer, and he is widely considered one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. He is perhaps best remembered as the founder of French existentialism and his books have exerted enormous influence in philosophy, literature, art and politics. During the war he completed the major work Being and Nothingness that eventually established his reputation as an existential philosopher. He was a prolific playwright, producing, among other works Huis-Clos (No Exit). In 1960, he published his second basic philosophical work, Critique of Dialectical Reason. In 1964, his account of his childhood, Words, received worldwide acclaim. That same year he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he refused. The Times (UK) described him as "One of the most brilliant and versatile writers as well as one of the most original thinkers of the twentieth century.”

Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was an American expatriate composer, author, and translator who lived 52 years in Tangier, Morocco. He studied music with composer Aaron Copland and established his reputation early as a gifted composer – his music for Tennessee Williams includes the settings for The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, and Sweet Bird of Youth. In 1945 he returned to writing short stories and by 1947, when he went to live in Tangier, fiction had become his major focus. Though most celebrated for his first novel, The Sheltering Sky, his prolific career included more than a dozen subsequent volumes of fiction; he has written nonfiction and poetry also. He is a folklorist of consequence and a translator of such authors as Jean Paul Sartre, for whose play Huis Clos he coined the title No Exit. The Times (UK) described him as "one of the most unusual, unconventional and gifted men of his time," and The Independent (UK) wrote: "Bowles was a mystic, a man of many abilities ... he will be seen as a major twentieth-century writer."