COLUMBIA — After a long hiatus of theater at Columbia College, the Elysium Players made a comeback in 2000. Now performing its eighth main stage production, the organization has given opportunities for students to act and direct.
Megan Driskill has done both. She has been in two productions with the Elysium Players and now is directing Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit,” which runs Thursday through Saturday. She picked the existentialist classic to challenge herself and to shift the genre from comedy of previous years.
“My brother, who’s a philosophy major, actually gave me the script,” Driskill said. “First time I read it, it scared the hell out of me. It was just a lot to take on.”
“No Exit” depicts three people in hell who find that instead of fire and torture, hell is other people. Jen Enright, who plays a woman who cuckolds her husband and murders her child, thinks this play speaks universally.
“The whole theme of the play is that hell is other people, and we all experience that at one point in time in our lives,” Enright said. “Whether we have a bad boss, or a nasty breakup with a significant other, you come to realize that your torment and most of your suffering comes from other people.”
Amy Darnell, adviser to the Elysium Players, thinks Sartre’s classic has a message that can go a long way in today’s world.
“We’ve gotten into this habit in our culture where we want entertainment to be quick; we want entertainment to be easy,” Darnell said. “What this play reminds me, and should remind others of, is that theater performance is an art form and that it has great things to say.”
The Elysium Players have spent eight weeks preparing the 60-page script.
“Every production has its moments when you’re certain it’s never going to work, you think you’re crazy for doing it, and you wonder why you ever agreed to do x, y or z,” Darnell said. “And then something magical happens at the last minute where it all comes together. It’s great to see students get the payoff for all their hard work.”