Hello Out There
The plot is simple and bleak: a Young Man is in jail for an alleged rape of The Wife of The Husband. Emily, the cook at the small town jail where the Young Man is being held, is attacted to him. The Young Man enlists Emily to help him escape, so they can run away to San Franciso together, before The Husband and his friends come to the jail to lynch him. However, while Emily is gone getting him her father's gun, The Husband arrives and (inadvertently?) kills the Young Man.
The play closes with Emily taking the Young Man's position in the cell and saying "hello out there", just as he had done in the beginning of the play, thus coming full circle. This existential moment resonates powerfully and is probably the reason the work was hailed by critics everywhere. Saroyan himself didn't think much of the play (probably due to the critical acclaim, which had escaped his other plays that he considered more important and non-conventional).
The play has an universal appeal because both the Young Man and Emily are outcasts, and in a time of need they are drawn together. But before their relationship is seen to fruition, it is shattered. The question of whether Emily can get away from her small town life is left open-ended. Ram Samudrala
A Review of the play
Hello Out There William Saroyan 1942
This is one of Saroyan's short plays. It's only about twenty pages long, but it sure packs a punch within those pages. The story takes place in a small Texas jail. Throughout most of the play, there only two characters, Photo-finish and Emily. Both are only reffered to by Saroyan as A Young Man and A Girl. This isn't in Saroyan's usual style. It is very symbolic, but it is more down to earth than some of his other plays. He actually condemned the play as being to dark, because he wrote it drunk one night in a hotel room.
As the title suggests, "Hello Out There" is exactly that, a calling out. A wake up call. It's beautifully written and moves along at a good pace, so no boredom comes from the play. The characters are excelently written and extremely deep as most Saroyan characters are. The play itself is quite cyclical(reminiscent of absurdism), ending with the same line, "Hello out there!" Highly suggested. 20 pages.
Other works by William Saroyan: Warsaw Visitor
This is Pacino's Broadway debut and his first performance for paying customers.
He was in a class being taught by his longtime friend Charlie Laughton on this play. Laughten got a friend of his to let them perform it his "Cafe Cino".
"As Pacino spoke his first line, the audience broke up - not because they were laughing at him, but because the line itself was funny. Unfortunately this fact had escaped Pacino's attention. Stumbling outside into an alley, he burst out crying. Laughton followed and spun him around, jolting him back to his senses. 'Al, you've got to play it twice more tonight, he told him,' then twelve more times after that.' It dawned on Pacino that he knew nothing about Saroyan or the play and that he'd better learn fast." Life on the Wire by Andrew Yule