No Exit Opens at the Long Beach Playhouse

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Genevieve Simon, Anthony B. Cohen and Natalie Beisner Photo by Mike Hardy

Genevieve Simon, Anthony B. Cohen and Natalie Beisner Photo by Mike Hardy

Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential masterpiece No Exit opens at the Long Beach Playhouse on July 28. The play centers on three characters: two women and one man who are locked up together for eternity in one hideous room in hell. The windows don’t exist; there are no mirrors; the electric lights can never be turned off; and no exit. The irony of this hell is that its torture is not of the rack and fire, but the burning humiliation of each soul as it is stripped of its pretenses by the cruel curiosity of the damned. 

“I found it interesting that in his lecture, Existentialism and Humanism, Sartre says, ‘… man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards,'” said Andrew Vonderschmitt, Executive and Producing Artistic Director of the Playhouse. “I take that to mean we are the sum of our actions. And our actions are subjective according to individual free will.

“It is the concept of ‘defines himself afterwards’ that is the central point of No Exit. Our three characters are defining themselves from the sum of their actions – and choices – in life. Ultimately, they are condemned by those choices for eternity. Each of them started life, presumably, an empty slate. Then they became the flawed creatures we see before us by their own choices throughout life.”

For this production, Vonderschmitt also serves as the play’s director. He has assembled an impressive cast to portray the four characters, the three tormented souls and the valet.

“I’m thrilled with the caliber of actors we have for this production,” Vonderschmitt said.

“Doug Seagraves plays the Valet. He’s become one of our favorite returning actors. He was the judge in To Kill a Mockingbird and has also appeared in our productions of Tartuffe, And Then There Were None and The Cyclops,” said Vonderschmitt. “When you need an ominous figure, Doug’s the man.”

Anthony B. Cohen, a Playhouse veteran, is playing Garcin. Cohen has appeared in a number of independent films and television shows.  The two women are both making their Playhouse debut in this production. Natalie Beisner portrays Inez and Genevieve Simon is Estelle. Beisner is a recent graduate of CSU Fullerton and Simon was most recently seen in Blackbird at the Toledo Repertory Theatre.

“Sartre once wrote that the responsibility for one’s freedom was so overwhelming that we are ‘condemned to be free.’  That means we have the freedom to make cruel choices or to be good – and ultimate responsibility for whichever we choose.

“I think the lesson here is that no person starts off ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is choice that makes us so. With nothing fated or preordained people simply exist, exhibiting free will by choice. The price of which can be steep, as it is for our protagonists.”

Special Events For This Play:

Pay what you can Thursday July 26 – community can see this production for whatever they can afford
Two for One Preview Friday July 27 – Tickets are $12.00
Opening Night Champagne Reception with cast on July 28- Tickets are $27.00

Adults are $24.00, seniors $21.00, and Students $14.00.

Tickets are available at www.lbplayhouse.org, or by calling 562-494-1014, option 1.

Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, CA, 90804, right across from the Long Beach Recreation golf course. The Playhouse is community-supported theatre with programs and events that cut across age, gender, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The box office is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3:00-8:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00-2:00 pm on scheduled matinees.

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