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No Exi(S)t

No Exit is a 1944 existentialist French play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The original title is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera, referring to a private discussion behind closed doors. The play was first performed at the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in May 1944. The play begins with three characters who find themselves waiting in a mysterious room. It is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. It is the source of Sartre’s especially famous phrase “L’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people”, a reference to Sartre’s ideas about the look and the perpetual ontological struggle of being caused to see oneself as an object from the view of another consciousness.

— Wikipedia


ACT I

Estelle 

I, Estelle Rigault, am a damned soul. I have been brought to this room in Hell and locked  inside by a mysterious valet.  

Joseph 

I, Joseph Garcin, am also a damned soul. I have also been brought to this room in Hell and  locked inside by a mysterious valet. 

Inez 

I, Inez Serrano, am also a damned soul. I have also been brought to this room in Hell and  locked inside by a mysterious valet.  

Joseph 

We had expected torture devices — 

Inez 

— to punish us for all eternity — 

Joseph 

— but instead — 

Estelle 

— we found a plain room furnished in the style of the French Second Empire! 

Joseph 

Estelle, what is the reason for your damnation? 

Estelle 

I cannot and will not admit it. There must be some mistake.  Joseph, what is the reason for your damnation? 

Joseph 

I cannot and will not admit it. Perhaps it was because I was an outspoken pacifist. Inez, what is the reason for your damnation? 

Inez 

I am the only one to demand that we all stop lying to ourselves and confess to our mortal  crimes. I refuse to believe that we all ended up in this room by accident, and I will soon realize that we have been placed together to make each other miserable.  I deduce that we are to be one another’s torturers.  

Joseph 

I suggest that we try to leave each other alone and be silent. 

Inez (singing) 

I have started singing about execution! 

Joseph 

Shh! 

Estelle 

What if I be your mirror, Inez?  I’ll tell you everything you see but end up frightening you instead! 

Inez 

It is soon clear that I am attracted to Estelle. 

Joseph 

But Estelle is attracted to me! 

Estelle 

And Joseph is attracted to neither of us two women! 

Joseph & Inez 

We are arguing! 

Estelle 

After arguing, we have decided to confess to our crimes so that we know what to expect from each other. I’ll start: I had an affair and then killed the resulting child,  prompting that child’s father to commit suicide. 

Joseph 

I cheated on and mistreated my wife, and I was executed by a firing squad for desertion. 

Inez 

I am a manipulative sadist who seduced my cousin’s wife, Florence, while living with them, which drove the cousin to kill himself and resulted in Florence asphyxiating herself and Inez flooding the room with gas while they slept, out of guilt. 

Joseph 

Despite the revelations, we continue to get on each other’s nerves.  I have finally begun giving into the lascivious Estelle’s escalating attempts to seduce me — 

Inez 

Which drives me crazy. 

Joseph 

I am, however, constantly interrupted by my own guilt. Please tell me that I am not a coward for attempting to flee my country during wartime, Estelle 

Estelle 

I comply — 

Joseph 

— thank you —

Inez 

— but I mockingly tell you that Estelle is just feigning attraction to you so that she can be with  a man, any man. 

Joseph 

This causes me to abruptly attempt an escape. After trying to open the door repeatedly — 

Estelle 

it inexplicably and suddenly opens! 

Joseph 

But I am unable to bring myself to leave. 

Inez 

And we others remain as well. 

Joseph 

I will not be saved until I can convince Inez that I am not cowardly. 

Inez 

I refuse because you are obviously a coward. I promise to make you miserable forever. 

Joseph 

I conclude that rather than torture devices or physical punishment, “hell is other people.” 

Estelle 

I try to persevere in my seducting of Joseph — 

Joseph 

— but I cannot make love while Inez is watching. 

Estelle 

I, infuriated, pick up a paper knife and repeatedly stab Inez!

Inez 

I chide Estelle, saying that we are all already dead, and I even furiously stab myself to prove  that point. 

Estelle 

HA HA HA! I laugh hysterically at the idea of us being dead and trapped together forever! 

Joseph 

HA HA HA! 

Inez 

HA HA HA! 

Joseph 

HA HA HA! 

Estelle 

HA HA HA! 

JOSEPH 

I finally conclude, eh bien, continuons… 

Inez 

Which means “well then, let’s get on with it.” 

END OF PLAY

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The VERY Dumb Waiter

The Dumb Waiter is a one-act play by Harold Pinter written in 1957. “Small but perfectly formed, The Dumb Waiter might be considered the best of Harold Pinter’s early plays, more consistent than The Birthday Party and sharper than The Caretaker. It combines the classic characteristics of early Pinter – a paucity of information and an atmosphere of menace, working-class small-talk in a claustrophobic setting – with an oblique but palpable political edge and, in so doing, can be seen as containing the germ of Pinter’s entire dramatic oeuvre”

— Wikipedia


ACT I

BEN and GUS, two-hit men, are waiting in a basement.

BEN

I am a senior hit man, reading a newspaper in this basement as I wait for our assignment. 

GUS

I am a junior hit man, tying my shoe in this basement as I wait for our assignment. Ben?

BEN

Yes, Gus?

GUS

I have many questions to ask you before our job begins. 

Silence.

GUS

I’m also trying to make tea. 

BEN

The expression you’re thinking of for making tea is “light the kettle.”

GUS

No, the expression is “put on the kettle.”

BEN

No, it’s not. I’m going to continue to read my paper. 

GUS

Will you read me some excerpts? 

BEN

Occasionally. 

Silence.

BEN

And now I’m growing more animated! 

GUS 

And my questions are becoming more pointed! 

BEN 

At times, your questions are nearly nonsensical! 

The dumbwaiter delivers a food order. 

BEN

The dumbwaiter (which is a small freight elevator or lift intended to carry food) has delivered another food order, as it has done on a few occasions since we’ve begun to wait in this basement. 

GUS

I find this mysterious and puzzling.

BEN 

I am also puzzled that these orders keep coming. This basement is clearly not outfitted as a restaurant kitchen. 

GUS

I brought some snack food along with me for the wait before the assignment. At some point, should we send them up the dumbwaiter? 

BEN

We should. I’ll do it now. 

BEN takes the snacks and sends them up the dumbwaiter. 

BEN (speaking into the speaking tube on the dumbwaiter)

There is no food! 

GUS

I’m going to leave the room to get a drink of water.

GUS leaves. The speaking tube on the dumbwaiter whistles.

BEN

That whistling sound means someone on the other end of the dumbwaiter wants to communicate with me. I’ll listen carefully to what they say. 

He goes to the dumbwaiter and listens carefully. 

BEN

It could be gathered from what they’re saying that our victim has arrived… and he’s on his way to this room. Gus! Gus! 

GUS doesn’t answer. 

BEN 

There’s no response from Gus because he’s still out of the room. And the door our target is entering from is flying open, so I’ll round on it with my gun pointed!! 

GUS

I am the one in the doorway, and I’m stripped of my jacket, waistcoat, tie, and gun. 

A long silence, and then the curtain falls. 

THE END