Audience enters “artistic inner circle” of Hell in Trovao’s “No Exit”

Mekala Lehmunn, Staff writer

Assignment: Report on the third and final Theater Student Work Series production of the semester, which was the play “No Exit,” directed by Ingrid Trovão

Word count: 598

During her moderate adaptation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit,” Ingrid Trovão broke the fourth wall by inviting the audience onstage to join her characters in “Hell” as they tormented each other.

Trovão, a CSUSM visual and performing arts student, also directed CSUSM’s production of “Sisters in the System” in spring 2018.


She said, “Theatre allows me to build a deeper relationship with my community . . . I want to invite [the audience] to be part of my artistic inner circle.”

On Thursday, March 28, Trovão instructed the audience to wait in the foyer outside the Arts 111 Performance Hall until the production began.

Four strangers (two men and two women) entered the foyer and wandered amongst the chattering audience in silence. They wore only black except one man, who also donned a scarlet jacket.

The 60 students and community members in attendance gossiped about these solemn persons but did not speak to them.

Trovão welcomed the theater goers to her capstone project and introduced them to the man in the rouge coat: “the Valet.”

This individual, played by Jordan Bagley led the audience out of the Arts Building and up a staircase to the second floor. He then ushered them down more stairs and through a side door into the back of the theater.

Once inside, the attendees stepped through a stand-alone red door as Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” played in the background.They sat facing a sparse scene with three armchairs and a colorful windmill-like sculpture.

Behind the red door, the audience could observe the darkened rows of empty seats and realized they were onstage.

Here they remained during the 90-minute play in which the crimson-jacketed Valet imprisoned three egotistical, cruel and paranoid souls (Jose Garcia, Inez Serrano and Estelle Rigout) in the spartan room.

Unable to escape hell, Garcia, Inez and Estelle abused and forced each other to admit their murderous and callous behavior in life.  

They also engaged in seduction: lesbian Inez (played by Elizabeth Barron) flattered Estelle (Colette Culbertson) while Estelle threw herself at Garcia (Austin William).

Throughout the performance the audience marveled as each character delivered passionate monologues on life, death and suffering. At the end everyone applauded with vigor and some offered a standing ovation.

Community member Annie Buchheit found the play “interesting [and] thought-provoking” while Criminology sophomore Oscar Magallanes thought it “a bit overwhelming at first.”

William said, “It’s an amazing experience to perform onstage with my three co-stars . . . this is what I want to do.”

Trovão said the performance “went really well” and that “the actors accomplished the storytelling.”

In their quest to “accomplish the storytelling,” Trovão and her cast analyzed three English translations and the original 1944 French version of Sartre’s “No Exit” while asking, “How can we bring [this play] to the contemporary world while staying true to the original?”

Given that attendee Magallanes related to Inez saying that “she didn’t have to look at Garcia to sense his presence,” the team answered the question well.

Trovão’s “No Exit” was the final Student Work Series production of the semester, and sold out on March 27 and 28.

The actors invited the audience to join them once again in Hell on April 23 when they perform “No Exit” in honor of Pride Month in the LGBTQA+ Pride Center (USU 3100).