By Alex Kerai ’19


What do three random strangers, locked together in a room for eternity, have in common? In Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 classic No Exit they are there to torture each other in the afterlife. On Sunday, December 9, at 2 p.m. the play will be performed in Williams Studio (located in Williams Hall) with all-student actors and a student production team. It is being directed by Austin Jennings  ‘19 as part of his Honors project and produced in association with the Phoenix Players, the student theatre group on campus.

When asked why he chose No Exit, Jennings said: “I personally love it. It’s like Twilight Zone, and I love those kind of stories which are kind of creepy but have morals and teach us about human nature, and that is very much what this play is.”

The show has been a fun experience for Jennings and his cast – which includes Israel Oyedapo ‘20 as Joseph Garcin, Tayah Payne ‘22 as Inès Serrano, Eva Catanzariti ‘20 as Estelle Rigault, and Troy Tedeschi ‘19 as the Valet. Throughout the process they have all been able to develop their work as actors and directors, with Catanzariti and Tedeschi making their debut as actors at HWS. The production team is also made up of students, continuing with the Phoenix Players’ mission to provide theatre opportunities for students regardless of their prior experience. Jennings has been collaborating with Set Designer Niki Russell ‘19, Assistant Set Designer Wren Andrews ‘21, Costume Designer Claire Abelson ‘20, Lighting Designer / Producer Alex Kerai ‘19, and Stage Manager Daphna Bendull ‘21 since the end of October.

In fact, the Phoenix Players hope that students will try something new, just as the two Assistant Stage Managers, Dominique Marshall ‘22 and Sarim Karim ‘22, did after their acting debuts with the Mainstage production of Love/Sick in October. This production also allowed Abelson to take on full design duties after working on costumes for Boeing Boeing and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche and is preparing Catanzariti for her Mainstage debut with A Servant of Two Masters in the spring. This is what the Phoenix Players does best: providing opportunities for students to hone their skills in all areas of theatre.

Austin Jennings, director of the production, said: “I think it’s important to keep theatre alive at HWS – it’s not dying but in an educational institution like this, it is important to include new people and give them opportunities to try and learn new things.”

The production of No Exit is very exciting as it is the first Phoenix Players production since Spring 2017 – and the entire cast is new to the group! Come see their incredible performances and the hard work they have put into the production on Sunday, December 9 at 2p.m. in the Williams Studio. If you have any questions about the production, please contact Austin Jennings ( for more information.

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