From now until the end of time, anyone is free to email me with any questions about the play No Exit, and I’ll be able to answer them.
For the ﬁnal project of my ﬁnal theatre class of my ﬁnal year of college, I recently completed the unthinkable. Along with ﬁve partners, I had to compile a 190 page binder analyzing every aspect of the French play. And in case you were wondering, the script itself is only 27 pages. So our ﬁnal project was seven times longer than the play we were studying. Sometimes, the jokes about academia just write themselves.
The binder contained long papers on the play’s style, structure, genre, idea, background information, characters, and a multitude of other topics. It also included a very thorough spreadsheet that tracks every time a character does something. That was the actual language on the assignment, too. Every time “a character does something,” we wrote it down. Spoiler alert: it happens quite a bit. Midway through the project, I realized that we were essentially doing the theatrical equivalent of management consulting. Instead of analyzing a company, we were studying every aspect of this play, and compiling the data for someone who doesn’t have time to read the script (but has time to read something seven times longer). I imagine it’s a very marketable skill.
The irony of the situation isn’t lost on me. No Exit is a play about three people who die, and ﬁnd out that the Hell they’re banished to is simply a living room with two other people they can’t stand. It reaches the conclusion that Hell can be found in everyday life. I never agreed with that, but after doing this project, I think Jean Paul Sartre was making some decent points.
But in a funny way, the whole thing made me glad that I chose the path I did. Four years ago, I went to college with a dream of becoming a theatre director. I truly thought that I wanted to spend my entire life analyzing other people’s scripts. If I was a director, I’d be doing this kind of thing every day. Realizing that I like television better than theatre, and that I want to write scripts instead of analyze them, were two pivotal moments in my life. Over the past few years, I’ve constantly said that I like my college, but if I could do everything again, I’d go somewhere else. But I’ve ﬁnally realized that I went to the right school because I got exactly what I needed to get out of it. Sometimes the right road is going to seem wrong, and that’s alright.
Newly Minted Sartre Expert