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Hell comes to Quinnipiac
Fourth Wall produces Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit”
Fourth Wall, Quinnipiac’s student-run theater group, is bringing an experience that is just as entertaining as it is thought-provoking. “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre is a play that has the power to teach the do’s and don’ts of life through the existential drama that ensues between its troubled and relatable characters.
The story begins with three adults that wind up in hell together – but there are no fiery pits, brimstone floors nor demonic torturers. Rather, there is a boy (Jamie Ackerman, junior) that brings the three damned people to a small room with no exits and nothing to do but talk to one another. The conversations that spark between new hell residents Cradeau (Paul Zoppati, junior), Inez (Julia Brignano, sophomore) and Estelle (Kayla Jarry, freshman) bring out their true selves and force them to confront their insecurities. Emotions run high as the trio reflects on their lives, causing fights, tears and lust to make their predicament ever-more difficult.
“We don’t always want to do comedies,” Parton said. “We want to have pieces of theatre that make people think. We want people to leave with questions about their own lives.”
Connor Whiteley, director of “No Exit” and senior economics and theatre major said that the play has already helped him take a closer look at himself.
“Every time I read the script and every time I watch the actors perform, I think of how the people who bug me the most tend to be the most like me,” Whiteley said. “It’s taking a hard look at yourself and thinking, ‘Why do I hate that person for seemingly no reason?’ Being self-aware is incredibly important. You need to know who you’re presenting yourself as and who you truly are. If those are two different people, there are going to be issues. If you’re not always taking a look in the mirror and you don’t have people to hold you accountable for things, you can be stunted from there.”
Whiteley added that “No Exit” is particularly relevant to college students due to the fact that friends aren’t always honest with one another about their faults.
“A lot of my shortcomings were things that I never knew I was taking part in,” Whiteley said. “It took having a close group of people to actually call me out on some of that stuff. And I think that’s kind of hard to find – especially in a setting like college where you’re kind of just thrown together with people and you make friends based on who’s next to you a lot of the time.”
Rehearsing for any play has its own unique set of challenges, and “No Exit” is no exception. The sexual content in the show calls for the actors to overcome awkwardness.
“It’s sort of tricky,” Whiteley said. “Whenever there’s a show that has sexual content in it, like ‘No Exit,’ it can be kind of weird navigating with two people who don’t know each other. So, you know, a lot of awkward laughs and a lot of very careful, step-by-step processes and asking if everything’s okay and everyone is comfortable. It can take about 45 minutes to rehearse a kiss.”
Late-night rehearsals are an additional challenge for the cast and crew. Because Fourth Wall’s rehearsal space isn’t available to the group until after classes, most rehearsals run from 9:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.
“The rehearsal process has been grueling,” Whiteley said. “Most of us are coming straight from a night class or from a different rehearsal. No matter what show you’re doing there’s never enough time to get it done. So, it’s a lot of work, but you know, a lot of laughs come from sleep-deprived, stress-filled, late-night rehearsals.”
Whiteley said that despite the difficulties, rehearsals have been very productive. The bulk of rehearsal is finished, and now the actors can focus on relating to their characters and making them their own.
“We’re at the point now where scripts are out of hand; they’re memorized,” Whiteley said. “The blocking is done. This is where we sort of tweak and flesh out the reactions and the emotions and where the actors can really discover the characters for themselves.”
He is confident that his team will produce a spectacular show.
“I have a wonderful cast,” Whiteley said. “They really dove in and just are embracing these characters and these are really tough characters to play. Lauren Rosenay, our set designer, is amazing, as well as our lighting designer, Joe Powell – just coming up with a light scheme and a set that really embodies this show. The team that I was surrounded with is incredible, so I have full faith in this show.”
Despite the show’s serious subject matter, Whiteley believes that “No Exit” is a play that anyone can enjoy. The show has comedic elements and is entertaining for those who don’t enjoy analyzing the meanings and themes of plays.
“If you don’t like reading into that stuff, it’s still fun,” Whiteley said. “It’s really well-written and the actors are doing an amazing job. If anything else, just come enjoy that.”
“No Exit” is Whiteley’s debut as a director. After taking directing classes and working with directors as a props designer, he knew that he wanted to direct a show.
For him, the allure of the job is the deep engagement with both the text of the play and with the actors themselves. He revels in analyzing characters and gradually figuring out who they really are.
“I knew it was something I wanted to try,” Whiteley said. “I was very thankful that I was chosen to direct this show.”
The opening night of “No Exit” is Nov. 30. The performance will be held at Quinnipiac’s Theater Arts Center, which is accessible by the green and orange shuttles.
Tickets can be bought online or reserved online to be paid on entry. They are available until the show runs, but it is recommended to buy tickets as soon as possible. Student tickets are $8 and non-student tickets are $10. For more information or to buy tickets, go to qufourthwalltheater.com.
Parton hopes that the club’s efforts will help change people’s perception that Quinnipiac isn’t a place for the arts.
“My request to the community is just to realize that there is arts on campus,” Parton said. “There’s this sort of closed-minded concept that, you know, there is no arts on campus, and it precedes theatre. It’s dance and music and fine arts and everything that goes with it. We work so hard to try and do not only what we love but to try and bring awareness to the community.