The Chamber of Banality: Hell on Earth

Rina Arya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Sartre’s play Huis Clos, hell is conceptualized as a psychological state of mind and interdependence rather than a physical place and is manifested through the conversational exchanges between the three characters, who seek to evade their true selves. In spite of this, the dimension of physical space is critical in performances – especially the mystery of what lies beyond the other side of the door into the drawing room. This article focuses on a number of contemporary productions to examine how hell is staged. They share a sense of the impersonal or unhomely and a staging in the round that create greater intimacy with the audience. Kim Collier’s 2008-9 production inverts the perspective of the play, transferring it to the cinematic, which adds to its psychological intensity. A parallel can be constructed between the play and the world of social media, especially the existential predicament of being with others, where hell is experienced as the gaze of the other, and which conveys the prescience of Sartre’s vision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-87
Number of pages10
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number1-2
Early online date15 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


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