Last Friday, the Blackfriars Drama Society performed their production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s "No Exit" on Mississippi State University's campus in McComas Hall. The show is about the concept of Hell, and its most famous line, "Hell is other people."
Three very complex and different characters are confined in one room for all of eternity, and eternal condemnation looks a little different than the characters had expected. There is no physical torture or gnashing of teeth. Instead, they discover they will each inflict torture upon each other. As the show unfolds, the audience discovers why each character ended up in Hell, and how they create Hell amongst themselves.
The cast consisted of only four characters: Cradeau, played by Philip Johnson, the bellboy, played by Brad Robertson, Inez, played by Katelyn Mathis and Estelle, played by Allyn Hackman.
Alvin Christmas, president of Blackfriars and director of “No Exit,” said he was given the opportunity to choose the play and did so in a rather unintentional manner. He was just looking for a play to read and stumbled upon “No Exit.” After reading it, Christmas said he knew he wanted to see it come to life on the Blackfriars' stage.
Christmas said Blackfriars is unique because it gives students an opportunity to present their ideas to their peers and see their visions come to life.
"Students direct, design and choose our shows," Christmas said.
Christmas also said Blackfriars Drama Society has been at MSU longer than Theatre MSU. In fact, Theatre MSU actually stemmed from Blackfriars, but today, the organizations exist separately.
Mathis, a biological science major who played the complicated role of Inez, transferred to MSU in August and decided to get involved with Blackfriars after meeting Christmas at a Starkville Community Theatre show.
Mathis said she did not know what to expect when joining the Blackfriars Drama Society, but has thoroughly enjoyed every second of her time with the organization.
"I really enjoyed how much of a challenge this show was. I’ve never played a role like Inez or been a part of a show like 'No Exit' before," Mathis said. "I’ve always done light-hearted community theatre or children’s theatre, so this show was a fun stark contrast for me. The high intensity and dark content were the most fun things to be able to work on."
Piper Dorty, an MSU freshman, attended the show Friday and was surprised by how talented each of the performers were.
"'No Exit' blew me away because of the amount of dedication from the cast," Dorty said. "Each had so many lines and worked tirelessly to memorize and perform them, even though they didn’t pertain to anything as far as school work goes."
To join, applicants must complete 20 activity hours, which consist of helping out with any Blackfriars events. Along with this, Christmas requires members to do 10 hours of community service.
Their next show, "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" will be in November, and will have free admission for the Boys and Girls Club.
Mathis said she encourages students to join the Blackfriars Drama Society and become a part of their unique theatre experience.
"You get to interact with other students from other majors and other ethnic background, and bond over your passion–theatre," Mathis said. "Everyone gets along really well, and it’s like a little family."