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Sartre's No Exit Opens at Naked Stage on Friday

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The folks at Naked Stage are always trying to one-up themselves. First, they held their innovative fourth annual 24-Hour Theatre Project, in which local thespians had 24 hours to write, rehearse, and present a play. They followed with the recent premiere of Flashlight Tales -- an open-mike night for scary storytelling at Flavour in the Grove. And now, Katherine Amadeo, her husband Antonio, and their partner-in-crime John Manzelli are back with Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, the infamous existentialist's exploration of motivation and morality opening Friday at the Pelican Theatre. Get ready to look inside your soul along with the three main characters as they learn about true hell.

Follow the jump for a short Q&A with Naked Stage's artistic director Katherine Amadeo, who acts in and directs No Exit.

New Times: Why did Naked Stage decide to do No Exit?

Katherine Amadeo: It's something that's been in the works for quite some time. In fact, before my husband, Antonio, John Manzelli, and I even started the company, we'd sit around and discuss what each of our dream shows would be; mine was always No Exit. That is the play that made me fall in love with theatre. I first read the piece in study hall (er... detention) my freshman year of high school -- and am still in possession of that very copy (not that I am advocating theft -- stealing from libraries is wrong!). Anyway, in our company's fourth year, we are finally producing it and we want to make sure that we stay true to our vision and do it right.

What can the audience expect?

The goal, of course, is a great night of theatre. We are staying very true to the text (the play is so well written -- such a solid piece), but at the same time, our small theatre (with less than 50 seats) allows us to almost take a cinematic approach. The actors are so close that every breath is read loud and clear in the back row. When the audience comes to a Naked Stage show they should expect, as always, a production that is true to the author's intentions, yet entirely original in concept. What you should not expect is a stuffy period piece.

How did you approach the material as an actor? As a director?

Very simply. (As actors) we just wanted to focus on the characters' journey. How these three particular characters deal with the situation they're in, each other, and themselves.

(As directors) we did a lot of research on Sartre's philosophical viewpoints and on existentialism, in general.

What does the play brings to a contemporary audience?

One of the things that amazes me about this play is how incredibly relevant it still is (it was written in 1944) -- people putting so much value in how other people perceive us and so little importance on owning up to our own actions and responsibilities. And, I'm pretty sure at one point or another, we have all related to the line "Hell is other people."

For someone who is not familiar with Sartre's work, is there anything they should know?

Sartre was a famous existentialist philosopher. Basically, existentialism boils down to (the acknowledgement) that we are completely free and responsible for every single one of our choices and actions. Sartre's work is fascinating and was quite groundbreaking, at the time. This play stands on its own--whether you have studied his work or never heard of Sartre, you will be able to understand, and hopefully take something away from this play.

Did you alter anything from the original work?

Our production will certainly look like no other production of No Exit you've seen before.

No Exit begins Friday and runs through November 21 at the Pelican Theatre on the campus of Barry University (11300 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores). Show times are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 to $25. Visit nakedstage.org or call 866-811-4111.

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