GVSU to hold student-directed show ‘No Exit’

GVL / Courtesy - Bruno Streck Rodrigues

GVL / Courtesy – Bruno Streck Rodrigues

Anne Marie Smit

Each year, Grand Valley State University offers an opportunity for students in directing classes to apply to direct a show of their choosing. This year, senior Bruno Streck Rodrigues was chosen as the director for the one-act play “No Exit,” with performances running from Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, April 8, in the Haas Center for Performing Arts.

“No Exit,” published in 1944, is a play by Jean-Paul Sartre about three souls who are locked in the same room with each other in hell. The play depicts the interactions of the three characters as they get to know each other, and eventually plan an escape.

When directing students apply to direct a show at GVSU, they get to choose which play they want to direct, and “No Exit” was Streck Rodrigues’ choice. Streck Rodrigues thinks the play is progressive for its time, and he appreciates what the show discusses.

“I just really like the discussion of the show,” Streck Rodrigues said. “It’s basically illustrating the existentialist movement, which I really liked. Also the play was written in (1944), and yet the show already had a lesbian character. In the original, the guy is Brazilian, and I’m Brazilian, so there’s that, and one of the girls is French and the other one is implied (to be) Spanish, so I just really like the diversity of the show.”

GVSU’s adaptation is based on a translation by an American, so the ethnicities of the characters are different than they are in the original. Streck Rodrigues explained why he thinks the translator made that choice.

“The male lead of the show became French, the Spanish character stayed Spanish, and the other girl became American,” Streck Rodrigues said. “It’s a translator choice. The guy that translated the show from French to English probably decided to do the switch because, in my view, when Sartre wrote it, Sartre was French. 

“So, what I think he did when he translated was, because Estelle was the same nationality as Sartre, he changed Estelle’s nationality to American to match the translator and match the country where the show (was) going to be produced. Estelle is a really superficial, petty character, so I think it’s the critic of the society of the show for her to be the same nationality as the people watching.”

Streck Rodrigues said he enjoys directing and would like to direct another show in the future. He’s acted on stage before, being a theatre major, but directing is an entirely different experience that allows someone to incorporate their own vision into the show.

“I really enjoy directing; it’s much different experience than acting,” Streck Rodrigues said. “In acting, you’re just focused on your character and being the best that character can possibly be. In directing, you have a much bigger vision. … Instead of having one character that’s me on stage, there’s little parts of my vision and myself in every single aspect of the show, so that’s really interesting.”

Emily Cobb, a GVSU sophomore, will be playing Inès in the play. Cobb said she was drawn to the show because it’s a small cast and has existential themes. She also liked the direction that Streck Rodrigues wanted to take with the show.

“I was really excited to work with Bruno,” Cobb said. “I was really excited for it because I knew the vision he had for it was going to be really spectacular. It’s an existentialist play, and it sorta comes at a time in theatre where they call it the ‘theatre of the absurd,’ and I haven’t been in a play like that. I was really excited to try something new and just explore new territory.”

Cobb said the character development is especially good in the show. Without giving any spoilers, she said the characters put up walls and slowly reveal their true selves, which ties into the existentialist themes.

“I really like the character development,” she said. “When you first see all the characters enter, who they are and who they show that they are, and the change that everyone goes through, … walls come down, and people put on fronts, but then it shows who they really are, and that goes into those existentialist themes that I really enjoy.”

The show times from April 5 to April 7 will be at 7:30 p.m., and the show on April 8 will be at 2 p.m. All performances will be held in the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre in the Haas Center for Performing Arts.