by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre - Huis-clos

BBC Third Programme

Broadcast: Tuesday 8th October 1946

"Huis-clos" is a depiction of the afterlife in which three deceased characters are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity, and is the source of Sartre's most famous quotation, "l'enfer, c'est les autres ("Hell is other people").

The play begins with an Attendant leading a man named Joseph Garcin into a room that the audience soon realises is in hell (hell is described as a series of "rooms and passages"). The room has no windows, no mirrors, and only one door. Eventually Garcin is joined by Inès Serrano, and then another woman, Estelle Rigault. After their entry, the Attendant leaves and the door is closed and locked. All expect to be tortured, but no torturer arrives. Instead, they are left to probe each other's sins, desires, and unpleasant memories, gradually realising that this is their punishment: they are each other's torturers.

Translated by Marjorie Gabain and Joan Swinstead from Jean-Paul Sartre's play, "Huis-clos", first produced in Paris at Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in May, 1944. This English translation was first produced as "Vicious Circle" in London at the Arts Theatre Club in 1946 starring the cast in this radio play.

With Alec Guinness [Joseph Garcin], Beatrix Lehmann [Inès Serrano], Betty Ann Davies [Estelle Rigault], and Donald Pleasence [The Attendant].

Directed by Mary Hope Allen

Re-broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1980 after the death of Sartre.

60 min.

Alec Guinness [2 April 1914, London, England - 5 August 2000, Midhurst in West Sussex, England] Betty Ann Davies [24 December 1910, London, England - 14 May 1955, Manchester, England (following appendectomy)] Beatrix Lehmann [1 July 1903, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire - 31 July 1979, London] Donald Pleasence [5 October 1919, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England - 2 February 1995, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France]

Note: A newer production of "Huis-clos" was broadcast on Radio 3 on 12th March 1995 with the title "No Way Out". It was directed by Michael Earley and based on a translation by Frank Hauser. The play starred Zoe Wanamaker as Estelle Rigault; Imogen Stubbs as Inès Serrano; Ciaran Hinds as Joseph Garcin; and David Collings as 'The Waiter'.


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