By Jean-Paul Sartre
(Adapted from the French by Paul Bowles)
Directed by Aaron Polk
NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre’s classic existential one-act, takes place entirely in Hell. This Hell is not, however, the classic depiction of torture racks and brimstone. This Hell is of a more personal nature, the burning humiliation of an individual soul as it is slowly stripped of its secrecy by the cruel curiosity of its companions. For our purposes, Hell is other people. It should be noted that this play does handle adult themes.
The specific rehearsal schedule will be determined by those of the cast members. It may be that not every actor will need to be at every rehearsal.
August 20 through September 13 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at the Lincoln Square, Urbana (meet in food court)
September 15 – September 26 6:00 – 9:00 PM
Sunday through Thursday evenings at the SoDo Theatre, 114 S Neil, Champaign
Sept 27, 28, October 4, 5, 6 at 7:30 PM
Sept 29 at 2:00 PM
Performance location: SoDo Theatre, 114 S. Neil St, Champaign IL
Sunday, September 15, 5 – 8 PM. All actors are asked to assist.
No conflicts will be accepted during the period from Sunday September 22 through October 6.
Casting 2 males and 2 females
Cradeau — Male, late 20’s to late 30’s. He is a journalist and former revolutionary. The first to be imprisoned. He is also the smartest, and thereby the first to figure out that that they are in Hell. He accepts his punishment, and agrees, almost unwillingly, to prove to the others that he is not a coward. The actor in this role must be capable of subtle intensity. Casting of this character will depend heavily on the age of the actress playing Estelle.
Estelle — Female, late 20’s to late 30’s. She is, before the play has ended, a love interest for both of the other characters. Her back story is very dark, and an actress in this role must be willing to speak openly about “touchy” subject matter. (Most notably, abortion and the murder of an infant.) She is soft-spoken and easy to manipulate. She must also be capable and comfortable with performing a brutal act of violence. Casting of this character will depend heavily on the age of the actor playing Cradeau.
Inez — Female, early 30’s to 60’s. She is a lesbian. And a sadist. She learns very quickly how to pit her companions against each other and seems to revel in the havoc her manipulations have caused. Age for this character is irrelevant, but she must be capable of calculated deviousness.
Boy — As in “bellboy”, personal valet to the occupants of Hell. Male, 20’s. This is the smallest role in the play and only appears in the first third. Little is known about him but it is referenced in the script that he has no eyelids and cannot blink. He functions solely as a tour guide and assistant to the other characters.
The Fall of the House of Usher
Adapted by Steven Berkhoff from the original story by Edgar Allan Poe
Directed by Kevin Paul Wickart
The Fall of the House of Usher" is Poe’s classic tale of the end of a long and aristocratic bloodline, as its last two surviving members succumb to madness borne of generations of isolation and obsession. Poe’s short story gets a stylized and effective makeover in this Steven Berkoff adaptation–traditional theatre blending with a touch of mime, a bit of Grand Guignol, a hint of Addams Family, and a little performance art.
Read-through: Saturday, August 24 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Champaign Public Library, Robeson Pavilion Room A
August 30 – September 15
Individual Script Study and Memorization
September 16 – October 11 at Lincoln Square Urbana (Meet outside IDEA Store)
Monday through Thursday evenings
7:00 – 10:00 PM
Sunday, October 13 – Load-In – (all cast required to attend)
October 14 – October 18 at SoDo Theatre
Tech Rehearsals Sunday October 20 through Thursday, October 24
Performance Location and Dates
SoDo Theatre, 114 S. Neil, Champaign
October 25, 26, 27, November 1, 2, 3
All Performances are at 7:30 PM
RODERICK USHER – Male
Roderick Usher is one of the two last living members of the aristocratic and respected Usher bloodline, and he is acutely aware of this. As a result of the family’s…unique…lineage, he appears to suffer from a number of disorders. Primary among these are hyperaesthesia (oversensitivity to light, sound, smell, etc.) and the belief that he and the mansion in which he lives have become one and the same. In an attempt to break the spell of the house, the monotony of living there year after year, he invites his old school friend, Edgar, to visit, citing the onset of illness. He would have left the house long before, but for his sense of responsibility to Madeline. Because of the incipient madness that they share, he and Madeline feed off each other in several ways.
KEYWORDS: Proud, dissipated, resigned, borderline mad.
MADELINE USHER – Female
Madeline Usher is the second of the two last living members of the aristocratic and respected Usher bloodline. She is either unaware of the impending end of the family, or does not care. As a result of the family’s…unique…lineage, she suffers from catalepsy–the tendency to fall into a temporary death-like coma. It is certain that at some point, the seizures that precede each attack will have weakened her to the point that the next attack will be fatal. For this reason she is almost a ghost in their own home, remaining in her bed and only rarely emerging. Because of the incipient madness that they share, she
and Roderick feed off each other in several ways. Even after her death, she is a continued presence in the House of Usher.
KEYWORDS: Proud, sensual, ethereal.
EDGAR (FRIEND) – Male
Edgar is Roderick’s oldest–and only–friend, a relationship they fostered when they were at school together. He is a man of the outside world, not only the audience’s window into the House of Usher, but also the contrast to the madness and decay within. Once he is over his shock at seeing how far his friend has fallen, he genuinely would like to help. But all he can really do is to chronicle the end of a long bloodline.
KEYWORDS: Sincere, horrified, hopeful.
OSWALD (SERVANT) – Any Gender
Faithful, reliable Oswald has been serving the Usher family for years. S/He is used to the idiosyncrasies of his employers, and the eerie atmosphere of the house, and takes them all in stride. S/He certainly must know that it is only a matter of time before the House of Usher falls. The actor playing Oswald will also appear as a second Doctor in a late scene, and serve as a stagehand to assist with mood and certain practical effects.
KEYWORDS: Faithful, capable, unflappable.
DOCTOR – Any Gender
The Doctor is, as written, a non-speaking role due to the original staging of the play–which had this role performed by the actor playing Edgar. We may modify this to give the Doctor a small speaking part. Even wordless, this character is an ominous and critical presence, attending to Madeline at the opening of the show, and at her apparent demise. Otherwise, the actor playing this role will serve as a stagehand of sorts, helping to establish mood and perhaps certain practical effects.
KEYWORDS: Ominous, inevitable.
- All actors should be able to move well. In this version of the play, posture and movement are as important as facial expression and vocal inflection. Mime experience is helpful, but not at all required.
- There are one or two brief dancing moments, but they are informal. No dance experience needed.
- No dialects will be used.
- We will cast the show as soon after auditions as possible, followed by a table read and discussion session with cast and crew.
- After the table read, there will be no rehearsals for approximately two weeks, to give the actors time to work on their lines.
- Starting September 16, we will rehearse four weeknights each week, with the specific schedule determined by those of the cast members.
- It may be that not every actor will need to be at every rehearsal. Kevin will endeavor to be as respectful of your time as possible.
- Additional rehearsals may be called as needed, with prior approval of the affected cast members.
- Tech rehearsals will begin on Sunday, October 20, and be held every night until our performance date on Friday, October 25. No conflicts will be accepted for that week.
Questions? Email email@example.com.