Table the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility
Table of ContentsCriterion A 2-5Cultural and Theoretical Context 2-4The Ideas Presented in the Play 4-5Criterion B 5-6Initial Responses to the Play 5Connection to Viewed Theatre 6Criterion C 6-13Directorial Intention and Impact on Audience 6-7Execution of Directorial Intention using Elements of Production 7-12Criterion D 13-15Moment of Theatre 1 13-14Moment of Theatre 2 14-15No Exit – Jean-Paul SartreCriterion ACultural and Theoretical ContextSartre was a very influential philosopher of the 20th century. He is known for Being and Nothingness, but the ideas presented in it are brought to life in his plays. He believed that the best way to present arguments is through fiction. The play No Exit was written a year after Being and Nothingness so a lot of his philosophical arguments are presented in the play. “Sartre was interested in the nature of existence, freedom, responsibility, consciousness, and time, helping to develop a philosophical movement called existentialism.” (SparkNotes Editors)Jean-Paul Sartre. Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/author/show/1466.Jean_Paul_Sartre.”Existentialism – a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad” (Merriamwebster.com). Existentialism was at its peak in the 1900s in France. “Faced with the humiliation of defeat and the suffering of war and occupation, Sartre examined many of his questions about existence with respect to World War II. For example, No Exit, which takes place in a room in hell occupied by three people who can’t stand each other, has often been compared to living in Paris during the German occupation. In this context, Sartre examined such issues as freedom, self-deception, and the nature of time in the play to help fellow French men and women cope with the ordeal of defeat both during the war and after” (SparkNotes Editors).The main idea presented in the play No Exit from Being and Nothingness is from the chapter “The Look”Cover of the First Edition. Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Nothingness.Being and Nothingness – “The Look”In this chapter of Being and Nothingness, Sartre presents the idea that the mere presence of another individual causes us to look at ourselves as objects and not as ourselves. We find ourselves in a world that is defined by what the other individual sees. What the individual thinks of us is what defines who we are. “This is not done from a specific location outside oneself, but is non-positional. This is a recognition of the subjectivity in others.Sartre writes that we perceive ourselves being perceived and come to objectify ourselves in the same way we are being objectified. Thus, the gaze of the other robs us of our inherent freedom and causes us to deprive ourselves of our existence as a being-for-itself and instead learn to falsely self-identify as a being-in-itself” (SparkNotes Editors).In the chapter “The Look” Sartre uses the example of himself being caught looking through a keyhole. When he hears footsteps and realizes he has been caught he becomes the object of the individual’s attention. It brings shame to Sartre to know that he is being watched and judged by the individual who has caught him in the act. The Ideas Presented in the PlayNo Exit takes place in a room with three people, Joseph, Estelle, and Inez, who are supposed to be in hell and are confused as to why they were placed in the same room. They then realise that they are there to torture each other for eternity. A really famous line from the play is “Hell is other people.” The way in which they “torture” each other has a lot to do with the chapter of “The Look” from Being and Nothingness. Joseph lies about the reason he is there and says that he refused to got to war because he was a pacifist. One is left to wonder was he really a pacifist or was he being a coward. The thought that someone else could think he was a coward was Joseph’s torture. He wanted to know if the women in the room approved of him. He made himself the object of their attention, instead of defining his own reason for being. When given the opportunity to leave the room, Joseph ultimately decided to stay in the room. He could not bring himself to leave the room because he needed to know if Inez approved of him. To Sartre, Hell was not a place with torture devices and all these things that one may see in a cartoon of Hell. It is just a normal room and the idea of the look made being in the room Hell. Another idea presented in the play is the philosophical argument that existence precedes essence. This was one of Sartre’s main arguments. This seemed rather radical at the time because people always believed that humans were born with a god-given purpose. Sartre believed that humans were born and later decided what their life would be like. They have the ability choose their purpose in life. A small way in which this idea is presented in the play is with a paper knife. There is a paper knife in the room, but no paper at all to use it on. The paper knife supports Sartre’s argument because it was created with the purpose of cutting paper, but without any paper it has no use. In the case of the paper knife essence precedes existence, but according to Sartre that is not the case for humans. They are born and have the freedom to choose what they do with their life. Criterion B Initial Responses to the PlayI found the ways in which Sartre brought his philosophical ideas to life very interesting. On my first read through the text I was a little confused about why certain things were the way they were. After my first read through I did more research on Sartre, existentialism, and the play itself. It felt really good to understand what was going on in the play and I really began to appreciate it a lot more. An example of a scene where I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on during my first read through was the scene where Joseph is being shown around the room by the valet. They point out a paper knife and Joseph asks if there are books in the room presumably to use the paper knife on. The valet tells him that there are not any books in the room, and Joseph responds asking him what is the point of there being a paper knife and no paper to cut. On my first read through I really thought nothing of this. To be honest I thought it was just dialogue that really had no meaning, I did not believe it had real purpose. After doing research I found that one of Sartre’s main philosophical arguments was that , at least for humans, existence precedes essence. The paper knife was in the room and its purpose was decided before it was made, but without paper it is useless. This is something I could have never thought of without the knowledge I gained with the research I did. I wonder how I would be able to bring ideas like these to life with an audience that might not have the knowledge necessary or if that would even be possible at all.I really enjoyed the tension in some of the scenes, but a lot of their words are ways to indirectly show the way they feel and I wonder how that would translate into a performance. What I mean by that is, say a character is upset, they don’t just show it by crying or something obvious like that, but they hint at it. It would be interesting to explore different ways for the actors to express the ideas of existentialism and Sartre’s “The Look”. One of my favorite scenes is when Joseph is given the opportunity to leave and he doesn’t. He doesn’t want to face the decision he made for himself and can not live without knowing if Inez thinks he is a coward. There was such strong emotion about getting out. I wonder if there are similar ways/symbols like the door opening that I could use to express the arguments of existence that Sartre presents and make them understandable for the audience. Connection to Viewed TheatreI haven’t experienced many theatre productions. The three plays that I have seen are Macbeth, Evita, and Our Town. When watching the scene of Macbeth where Macbeth sees the dagger, he was on stage by himself. This worked well because the lighting was made to be the way it was for the original performances, outdoors. Because there were no spotlights, Macbeth being on stage alone made the scene really personal to Macbeth and made him the point of focus. The spotlight was on him, though there were no actual spotlights. This along with his exaggerated gestures and almost terrified tone of voice really helped me as a member of the audience to really understand the way he was feeling and what he was going through mentally. At the same time though, I feel like having read the text prior to watching it helped a lot. I’m not too sure this would work with No Exit because all three characters are in the same room the whole time, but maybe having two of them on the sides and the third in the middle would give the third more presence and pretty much make it seem like he or she is the only one on stage. Also, because No Exit has some pretty complex ideas expressed in it, I feel like having some background knowledge would really help. It helped a lot that I had read Macbeth before watching it.One thing I really enjoyed about Our Town was the way in which the audience is involved in the play. Of the three performances that I have attended, this was my favorite because I really enjoyed the way I felt as a member of the audience breaking the fourth wall. I would really like to do this for my audience just for their experience, but I wonder if it would take away from the original being set in a room with just three people. The third play I have seen is Evita. This was over a year ago so I don’t remember much. One thing I do remember is that the lighting was really flashy. I remember the lighting going along really well with the scenes in the play. One thing I took from this musical is the importance of lighting. I wonder how well I will be able to incorporate lighting into my scenes to send the message I want to my audience. Criterion CDirectorial Intention and Impact on AudienceMy directorial intention is to help the audience better understand Sartre’s philosophy. I would like for my audience to just be the general public, but because on my first read through I was not sure what exactly was going on, I think my audience should be people who are interested in philosophical arguments or have some background knowledge. I think that having the knowledge or just the interest would give an overall better experience to my audience. I enjoyed and appreciated No Exit a lot more on my second and third read through because I knew things I did not originally know.Execution of Directorial Intention using Elements of ProductionOne of the ideas that I would like to bring to life for my audience is the line in the play said by Joseph. It translates to Hell is other people. I think that the best way to do this would be to make the stage on the same level as the audience and possibly have the audience surrounding the stage. Stage. My Image.The stage design above could really help to deliver the message that Hell is other people. The stage being on the same level as the audience is done to give the audience the feeling that they too are in hell, or rather they are hell.Arena Stage. Theatre in the Round, www.theatreintheround.org.I also found the image above of an arena stage that I really liked, but the only thing that would make the arena stage not be suitable for the play is that there is a door that they have to go in and out of. With the arena stage there is no way for the door to be visible by all of the audience.PropsNot many props will be needed. Other than the door, three couches will be needed, one for each character. Also a small table. I want the room to look as simple as possible. Like an ordinary living room. Sartre made his set look like a normal room in France in the 20th century. He did this because he was trying to let the people know that Hell is everyday life with other people. Because my audience is not living in 20th century France, I want the furniture in the room to be like that of a modern home. So with the props set up my stage would look something like this – Prop Setup. My Image.SpaceThe room or stage on which the performance will be given will be rather small. I want the room to be barely big enough for the three people and the furniture. Although this is supposed to be a normal looking room, it is also a symbol for Hell so the little space in the room should give the audience an uncomfortable feeling. This room, Hell, is not somewhere that they, the audience, would like to be. LightingAlthough Sartre did not really make this room like the stereotypical image of hell, the one thing he did keep was the heat. The room is said to be really hot in the text. I think that a bright light with a red-orange film would create the stifling feeling I want to create. This would also go along really well with the crowded room. One could almost suffocate in this room. The lighting will remain the same all throughout the play. The character do not need to sleep because they are dead so there is no need for the lights to go off at any point during the play.I don’t think this is something I would do just because I don’t want my audience to feel physically uncomfortable, but a possible element I could incorporate could be to make the whole theatre room hot. This seems a little excessive which is why I am not choosing to do it but it was just a thought that came to mind. CostumeI’m setting the play in 21st century United States, so the clothing they will be wearing will be casual clothing that would typically be worn today. JosephMen’s Navy Polo. Sunspel, www.sunspel.com/us/mens-combed-cotton-riviera-polo-shirt-in-navy-mpol1004-buaa.htmMen’s Khaki Pants. Mountain Khakis, www.mountainkhakis.com/products/mens/bottoms/pants.Very simple clothing. No accessories or anything of that sort because, again, they are in hell.EstelleGray Dress. Pinterest, www.pinterest.com/pin/289708188513692280/.I have Estelle wearing a dress because she is a bit more provocative than Inez. She tries to seduce Joseph throughout the play and I think that a dress would best fit her character. She makes herself the object of men. Her reason for being is to be approved of by men. This is and example of the look because she objectifies herself.InezWomen’s Long Sleeve Blouse. Anne Fontaine, www.annefontaine.com/elouane.Women’s Cargo Pants. Dickies, www.dickies.com/pants/womens-premium-relaxed-straight-cargo-pants/FP223.html.Again, similar to Joseph, very simplistic clothing for Inez. Inez isn’t the charming, seductive woman that Estelle is. She is a more cold person. She is cruel. Throughout the play she messes with Estelle and Joseph mentally. Inez almost serves as the subject who gazes at the object in what Sartre calls the look.Criterion DMoment of Theatre 1In my first chosen moment Estelle is trying to seduce Joseph, but he isn’t having any of it. She’s asking him to kiss her, but while this is going on Inez is yelling at them. She tells him to do as Estelle is telling him. Inez makes sure to remind him multiple times that he is a coward. He can’t do anything with Estelle knowing that Inez is watching. He needs to know that she approves of him and doesn’t think he is a coward. I believe this moment brings the idea of the look to life very well. It is done in a very literal way. Inez literally looking at Estelle and Joseph won’t allow Joseph to do anything and it messes with his mind. I believe that of all the moments in the play this one can deliver one of Sartre’s ideas to the audience in a way that they can understand. This is one of the main reasons for which I chose this moment. It makes it easiest to deliver my directorial intention. It also is a moment where the audience can see the cruel character that Inez is.ESTELLE: Don’t listen to her. Press your lips to my mouth. Oh, I’m yours, yours, yours. INEZ: Well, what are you waiting for? Do as you’re told. What a lovely scene: coward Garcin holding baby-killer Estelle in his manly arms! Make your stakes, everyone. Will coward Garcin kiss the lady, or won’t he dare? What’s the betting? I’m watching you, everybody’s watching, I’m a crowd all by myself. Do you hear the crowd? Do you hear them muttering, Garcin? Mumbling and muttering. “Coward! Coward! Coward! Coward!”—that’s what they’re saying. . . . It’s no use trying to escape, I’ll never let you go. What do you hope to get from her silly lips? Forgetfulness? But I shan’t forget you, not I! “It’s I you must convince.” So come to me. I’m waiting. Come along, now. . . . Look how obedient he is, like a well-trained dog who comes when his mistress calls. You can’t hold him, and you never will. Inez is making a mockery of Joseph (Garcin) and Estelle. She knows that her opinion of him matters to him so she is taking advantage of that. In my mind she is saying this in an almost evil tone as if she were about to burst out into an evil laugh. I see this moment as a childish argument. Inez is saying “Do what she tells you I dare you!” knowing that Joseph won’t do it just because she dared him to. Estelle just says “Don’t listen to her. Give me your attention.”(No Exit)Estelle and Joseph are in the middle couch. Joseph sitting straight up and Estelle sitting next to him leaning on his shoulder. Her lips are a little puckered and she is making a pouty face. This is done because she wants Joseph and she wants him to want her too. She is a woman who feels like she needs a man. She is seductively running her hands up and down Joseph’s arms. She is almost like a child begging their parent for something the parent does not want to get for them. The line she says is said like a child almost. All the while, Joseph is not showing much interest. He has a rather emotionless face and his hands are to his sides. He does not pay much mind to Estelle, what he is worried about is Inez’s opinion of him. Inez then begins to make her cruel remarks. She makes the remarks in a sinister tone. She says all of this with the intent to hurt/bother Joseph. She has an almost evil look on her face. Throughout the line she has a smirk on her face and giggles in between some lines. She knows that what she is saying is really getting to Joseph. She says all of this while sitting on the couch to the right of the stage. She has her eyes locked at Joseph as she says everything. There is no need for her to get up and say what she does. Her words only are powerful enough to get to Joseph, her body language and gestures do not have to be assertive for her to get her message across. As Joseph hears what Inez is saying his body language completely changes. He is no longer just sitting back with an emotionless face. His head is in the palms of his hands and he can be heard breathing loudly. He is becoming frustrated. He attempts to look up at Inez and maybe challenge her stare/gaze, but there is nothing he can do. She has power over him because of the look. He depends on her, or her opinion of him at least. Noticing that Joseph is becoming frustrated Estelle tries to console him, but because she is really only doing it to seduce him she kisses him on the cheek and running her hand across his back. She is looking into his eyes nodding her head as if saying, “Don’t listen to her, you have me.”Moment of Theatre 2My second chosen moment is when Joseph says the famous line, “Hell is other people.”JOSEPH: So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is—other people! There is a pause in the famous line, this can add suspense and create a feeling of uneasiness in the audience. (No Exit)Joseph is standing up frustrated because at this point he would rather have been tortured by the torture devices that he expected. He did not expect to be in a normal room with two people. As seen in the other moment I chose he really hated what he was going through in this version of hell. He is turning in place with his arms stretched out pointing toward the walls and around the room as he turns. When he begins to talk about what he thought hell would be like he says it in a wondrous way as if the torture-chamber, the fire and brimstone were things he was looking forward to. The last to lines he says louder than the rest. He is standing eerily still. After he says “Hell is-” there is a pause and he looks around the audience just turning his head though to keep the eerines and make the audience feel uneasy. He even makes eye contact with audience members. As he is doing this he finishes the line. While he is saying this Estelle sits in the middle couch and inez sits on the couch to the right of the stage. They listen attentively to Joseph, but when he says that they are Hell their expression changes. Both are offended and in shock. Inez is upset. Her eyes open wide and her jaw dropped. Her arms are crossed. Estelle becomes a little sad. Her eyes too are wide open, but she has more of a look of worry. Her face becomes pouty and she looks down at the floor. She is sad because the only man she has to please her in there is Joseph and he just insulted her.