Yesterday was our last performance of Huis Clos (No Exit), Sartre’s existential masterpiece. I’d been dreaming of playing the role of Garcin ever since I first read the play, at 16. Well, I got my wish, and it was more than I bargained for.
The three characters in the play are in hell, and for good reason. They are at once boastful and weak, aggressive and cowardly, dihonest and naive. For the actors, preparing for and performing this play was a powerful experience. Under the direction of Dan Hiester, we developed a dysfunctional relationship, at once close and distrustful, which intensified with each rehearsal.
I’ve been doing a lot of work over the years in clearing my mind of wrongful thinking, of pettiness, of greed… but the role of Garcin brought me right back in, and deeper down, to the place where the mind is like a trapped animal. Going back to mindfulness after rehearsal got harder and harder with every passing week.
The play is done. I can bid Garcin farewell, and leave him to rot in the jail cell of his own ego, while trying to forget just how easy, just how natural it was to become him every night. It will take a while.