The cast of the upcoming Aenigma Theatre production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 existentialist French play No Exit.
The cast of the upcoming Aenigma Theatre production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 existentialist French play No Exit.

We’ve certainly come a long way since Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland decided to “put on a show”, but the idea of doing just that is surprisingly current for many of Vancouver’s younger theatre professionals.

[pullquote]“No Exit showcases character above all and I’ve always been interested in exploring emotions and how our deeper psyche affects our physical reactions.” – director Tanya Mathivanan[/pullquote]One such group of UBC alumni and current students has banded together with recent graduate Tanya Mathivanan in the upcoming Aenigma Theatre production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 existentialist French play No Exit.

The play follows the fate of three dead characters who have been sentenced to hell and are locked together inside a seemingly normal room. To their surprise however, they soon discover that their punishment is not fire and brimstone, but in having to deal with each other for the rest of eternity.

With no set or costume changes, No Exit suits Mathivanan’s love for character and a fascination with the impact our internal complexities has on our physical being.

“I’ve always been interested in character and focusing on scripts that have a microscopic feel,” she explains.  “No Exit showcases character above all and I’ve always been interested in exploring emotions and how our deeper psyche affects our physical reactions.”

And even though it was written 70 years ago, Mathivanan also insists No Exit has relevancy today.

“We have a trend of empowerment going on today, which is great, but a problem with our current psyche is when that sense of empowerment is warped and there is no compassion for anyone else in society,” she says, reinforcing one of the themes that echos through Sartre’s play.

It is also a play that Mathivanan says resonated with her fellow Aenigma Theatre members and one that works with her company’s philosophy of offering Vancouver audiences opportunities to see plays from a global perspective.

“Going out to see theatre in Vancouver lacks a certain variety,” she admits. “A lot of the plays being produced locally are rooted in Vancouver, but there is something to be said about not just producing Canadian plays.  It is nice to have that global view.”

For Mathivanan and the other twenty-somethings in her group the only way to attaining that variety in the local theatre landscape is to make it happen themselves.

Mickey and Judy live on!

No Exit plays Studio 16 (1555 West 7th Ave) from May 6-10.  Tickets are available online or at the door.