WMU News

Troupe performs Sartre in French and English

April 5, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- The Jean-Paul Sartre play that introduced the world to the concept that "hell is other people" will be staged in both English and French at Western Michigan University, Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15.

Two presentations of Sartre's "No Exit (Huis Clos)" will be presented by the Le Theatre de la Chandelle Verte, a traveling theater troupe that includes WMU faculty member June Miyasaki. The first presentation will be a dramatic reading in English at 3 p.m. Sunday in Room 1021 of Brown Hall. On Monday, the troupe will perform the play in French at 7:30 p.m. in The Little Theatre. The presentations, which are sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Alliance Francaise de Kalamazoo, are free and open to the public.

"No Exit," first performed in 1944, focuses on a man and two women who find themselves in hell, which, for them, is a living room with Second Empire furniture, a setting that the French public at the time recognized as familiar. In the Chandelle Verte's adaptation, the scene is in a stark waiting room, a setting more familiar to today's audiences. The characters are each dependent on the others to create an illusion about themselves, which is Sartre's indictment of the false role each person plays in society. The man, Garcin, utters the play's most memorable line, "hell is other people."

The performers of Le Théâtre de la Chandelle Verte include not only WMU's Miyasaki, but also WMU alumnus Christian Flaugh, who is now a graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Francine Conley, a poet, performer and instructor at UW-Madison.

"Our purpose is to be an educational theater troupe," explains Miyasaki. "We want to present schools with an opportunity to see live performances in French and to use theater as a viable means of teaching language, literature and culture."

According to Miyasaki, the troupe, which formed last year and also has performed "No Exit" at UW-Madison, picked Sartre's play because "it's timely as we all talk about the responsibilities for choosing our actions in this world."

Reservations are requested for those planning to attend the performances and may be made by calling the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at (269) 387-3001 or (269) 387-3023.

For more information, contact the show's organizer, Dr. Cynthia Running-Johnson, professor of foreign languages and literatures, at (269) 387-3021.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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