For its second play of the season, the The Vancouver Island University theatre program is downsizing.
After staging Concord Floral, with its large ensemble cast, in the 294-seat Malaspina Theatre earlier this month, VIU is next presenting a three-person play in the 25-seat Mike Taugher Studio.
Theatre professor Leon Potter said the perfect production to bring to the smaller, more intimate space is No Exit, a 1944 play by the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.
In the play, three characters – adulterous war deserter Cradeau, manipulative home wrecker Inez and lustful child-killer Estelle – are trapped in the afterlife, forced to bear each other’s company for eternity. It is the origin of Sartre’s famous aphorism, “Hell is other people.”
“There’s nothing flashy. Just three people and their problems for an hour and that’s really interesting, just exploring people,” said first-year student Willem Roelants, who plays Cradeau.
“It’s a very character driven, actor heavy piece, rather than a lot of special effects and conflicts and this and that…” said Potter, who is directing the play. “It’s three people and it’s those personalities mixed into one space that creates the essence of what hell is.”
Second-year student Carolina Arias plays Inez. She said she’s been looking foward to being a part of the play and working with Potter for a while.
“I was super excited for the project since last year and I knew I wanted to be in it no matter who I got to play…” she said. “And I just like the whole topic. I like that it’s a little bit darker and a little bit twistier than most of the plays I’ve done before.”
The production takes place in the Mike Taugher Studio below the View Gallery, from Dec. 5 to 7. The actors will perform in the centre of the room, with the audience seated along the perimeter.
Potter said the actors and technicians benefit from working in a new space.
“There’s set, there’s lights, there’s sound. [It’s] exactly the same as one of our big main stage shows, but smaller,” Potter said.
The actors said performing to an encircling audience has its difficulties, as they must ensure that their actions are visible and lines are audible to the whole room.
“It’s interesting because there’s nowhere to hide,” said Alexandra McCoy, a second-year student who plays Estelle.
“You have no time to turn off your character. You have no time to be thinking about your lines,” Arias added. “You have to be on top of everything the whole time because no matter what’s going on, you can count on the fact that somebody is going to be looking at you.”
WHAT’S ON … The VIU theatre program presents No Exit at the Mike Taugher Studio, VIU Building 330, Room 109, on Dec. 5 and 6 at noon and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 available online. Seating is limited.