No Exit

by Jean Paul Sartre
Paragon Theatre Company
Acoma Center, Denver


Barbra Andrews
Ted Bettridge
Suzanne Favette

Director’s notes:

No Exit is a play about freedom and the individual responsibility that freedom demands. The tragic flaw of the characters in the play is their dependence upon others to define themselves. Rather than taking responsibility for defining themselves, Cradeau, Inez and Estelle seek in vain for validation, justification, and salvation from the other people in the room.

The struggle of the characters in No Exit seems rather timely today when we blame media bombardment for our dependence on cigarettes, our need to be dangerously thin, and our drive to constantly buy more. Today most 13-year old girls strive to look like Britney Spears and feel that they are losers if they don’t dress like their friends and have a boyfriend by the time they get into high school. Our culture is rank with people suffering because their self-image is totally dependent upon other people’s opinion of them. No Exit reminds us of the dangers of being dependent on the judgment of other people.  Each character in the play is imprisoned by his or her  need for validation from other people. If any one of the characters in No Exit had the courage to face her demons and work to develop her own opinion of herself, that character might claim her own freedom and walk out the door.  As Jean-Paul Sartre said, “no matter what circle of hell we are living in, I think we are free to break out of it.”  The challenge for us lies in mustering the confidence to accept that freedom and take action for ourselves.

Quotes for thought:

“Their existence in Hell is a kind of photographic negative of their life on earth.” –McCall, pg. 124

“…the debilitating power of the look…” –McCall, pg. 126

“…face to face for eternity…” –McCall pg. 127

“…the self petrified into an object by the Medusa-like look of other people.” –McCall, pg. 112

“If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.”—T.S. Eliot

“Objects have lost their comforting aspect of things to be used; they serve no function.” –McCall, pg. 114

“The truth of the self is tested by the challenge of exposure to others.”

No Exit is about the results of how we define ourselves—especially those who fail to seize the freedom to define themselves.”

“There are a vast number of people in the world who are in hell because they are too dependent on the judgment of other people.” –Sartre on Theatre, pg.199

“No matter what circle of hell we are living in, I think we are free to break out of it.” — Sartre on Theatre, pg. 200

“I believe that the conflicts of rights that interest and move an audience should be conflicts of modern rights and relevant to life as it really is today.” –Sartre On Theatre, pg. 15