“Hell is other people”

Set upstairs in an intimate room above a lovely little pub in Camden called ‘The Lord Stanley’.. I squashed myself in between two men, academically clad in rounded glasses and corduroy suits. They looked like they knew their Descartes from their Heidegger and I found myself begin to worry that the play I was there to see, was going to be full of linguistically respectful sentences only someone who had studied literature/philosophy might be able to understand. New to Philosophy, I fell for its charm when I discovered… from a little self study that I might be suffering a little from Existential Angst.. and since then I’ve found myself wanting to read/know more, albeit finding the subject a little intimidating as a self starter.

I was there to see the performance of the play ‘No Exit’ by Sartre – which was being put on by the Theatre Collection company (founded and run by Victor Sobchak).

“Remember you’re not alone; you’ve no right to inflict the sight of your fear on me.” Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

Performed behind a wooden mesh, I was impressed by the theatre’s resourceful use of both the space and lighting. I forgot to worry about my lack of knowledge and my intellectual looking neighbours as after ten minutes I found myself absorbed in the extremely well acted discourse between the three ‘deceased’ characters.

The story in a nutshell, is a depiction of the afterlife – and punishment is being locked in a room together for all eternity. It is based on the quotation “L’enfer, c’est les autres” or “Hell is other people” in which Sartre very cleverly sums up the hellish reality of living with other people, the struggle for tolerance.. and the struggle of seeing oneself as an object in another persons world. The three characters in this adaption are played by actors Shaban Arifi (Garcin) – Phoebe Higson (Estelle) – and Josephine Berry (Inez).

On leaving, feeling thoughtful, yet in a jovial mood I turned to my friend.. who had been sitting a few rows back.. “So… what did you think?” I asked him… “I thought it was brilliant!” he beamed at me.. “But Becks…” he turned to look at me – a serious expression on his usually upbeat face…

“I think we are stuck behind that wooden mesh.. and we’ve gotta get out…”.

I looked seriously back at him. “Yeah.. I know…”…I smiled back.

INEZ: One always dies too soon – or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are – your life, and nothing else.”

Highly recommended – go see! It’s playing until the 24th of March… buy tickets HERE

This week Becki is going to find a copy of Bertrand Russell’s ‘The History of Western Philosophy’ and start reading it on recommendation from the very nice man who was sitting next to her…. a great place to start apparently… 😉

SARTRE FACT: Sartre was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature but refused it, saying that he always declined official honors and that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”

PS – I’m running the 10k in May raising money for Mind/Home Straight/Children’s Society – please sponsor me if you can! Thank you! Link HERE

Until next time folks.. have a good week..



Substance Misuse the Musical – an interview with Sonya Hale

Living life on the edge – dreams are born, possibilities are endless and the magic happens: Sonya Hale, 2012 (centre pic)

Recently I went to see a very powerful play entitled Substance Misuse the Musical put on by the Outside Edge Theatre Company. One of the main writers and stars of the show Sonya Hale has kindly agreed to an interview. Here she is talking about her experience of substance misuse and why creativity is important in both recovery and everyday life. 

How did you get in to the Outside Edge Theatre Group?
I went to an outside edge performance, saw the magic at play and caught the bug immediately and now i’m just riddled with it!

Tell us about the play Substance Misuse – you had a hand writing some of it?
Everyone at Outside Edge is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction so the subject matter -‘Substance Misuse the Musical’ came straight from the heart. We all arrived in recovery with a vast array of skills and talent – most of it latent and deadened by addiction. Outside Edge opens the flood-gates to allow creativity to blossom and flourish. Thanks to a whole lot of love from each other and an atmosphere of support. The skill and talent is as vastly varied as wonka chocolates. Pretty colourful and chaotic at times. Luckily we have a skilled director, Phil Fox (pictured below right) who pieces together everyone’s contributions into a plot and endeavours to keep the peace.

You played a very powerful part in the play.. tell us more about the character and how you got in to the role?
Phil is very open to suggestions and I have always had a burning desire to write. I just picked up my pen and started writing, largely inspired by Outside Edge. I am just over a year in recovery from long term, full-on addiction. I picked up drugs as a kid and was flat out for twenty years since the age of thirteen. I was homeless and slept rough for years and everyday was about getting more and more drugs and alcohol. I hurt family, friends, loved ones and experienced alot of loss – self respect, identity, self-worth, all that stuff, so it’s all pretty close to my heart and very raw. My character is a part of me I guess. Addiction, obsession, violence, revenge…all that. I find that expressing this stuff, these feelings, creatively is hugely therapeutic and cathartic for both us performers and the audience. Blimey, I sound ever so morbid. The best bit about living on in the Outside Edge is the laughs and the humour and the being daft and silly. Ultimately we do it for the love of it, because it’s damn good fun, it’s play after all. Bringing the dark to light.

Mark Rylance – was in the audience and adored the show – that must have made you feel amazing!!?
Mark Rylance, I know, amazing!!! What an honour. I tried unsucessfully to get tickets for Jerusalem but, alas, it was sold out. He is a true star. Not in an X-Factor kinda way – like, proper, in a meaty-substance kinda way, skill! And he loved it. How good is that? He commented alot on the talent and the rawness and, he said I mustn’t stop writing, I’ve got diamonds in me – charmer I know – but there’s a compliment I wont be forgetting.

Mark Rylance: ‘the play is outstanding. No one currently on the English or American stage is doing this kind of work.’

You are now clean from substance misuse yourself – can you tell us a bit about your story – and how creativity has helped you?
 I arrived in recovery nigh on unable to talk or stand up straight or look anyone in the eye. I was so full of fear and self-hate. Largely thanks to Outside Edge I feel like I’ve found my calling – something that I truely love. They’ve all known me since I arrived. Like a well stunned rabbit and they have been there every step of the way to help me grow. The Outside Edge Theatre Company is open to anyone who wishes to take part in whatever capacity. Living life on the edge – dreams are born, possibilities are endless and the magic happens.

The Outside Edge Theatre is now touring with it’s brand new play Double Whammy 
June 14 at 8:00pm until June 16 at 10:00pm at

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