When I stepped into the Reitz, my expectations were rather low. How could a beautiful theatre be hidden in such a typical place on campus, I come in and out of this building throughout the week! But when I walked into the theatre I was astonished at the size of the place but also of how beautiful the auditorium truly was. The theatre could fit a large number of people and we were ushered to the far right corner of the room. Our seats seemed poor at first, but as soon as the lights came on my friend and I realized that our seats had a perfect view of Sarah Bernhardt. Another cool aspect of the play was that none of the actors used microphones to amplify their voices. All actors used the great acoustics in the theatre and I could hear them perfectly, even towards the back. The role of place in the Good Life has a large impact as position can foster understanding and appreciation. If I was seated at the very back of the auditorium, my experience would not have been as positive as I would have missed several intimate moments of the play. Place has a crucial impact on the Good Life.
I attended the performance with my roommate Joel who is also in my discussion group. We were told to dress up so we both wore pants and button-up shirts however, to my surprise, the majority of the audience were casually dressed. I have an appreciation for the arts and Joel shares this appreciation as well. It was a great experience to watch the play with a friend who understood the importance of the theatre and the beauty of acting. The play would have seemed uninteresting and hard to follow without someone to digest the information with during intermission. Shared experiences are crucial to the Good Life as it provides an avenue to learn and grow together as individuals. The journey will mean much less without a second opinion to provide a different perspective and view.
The Cultural & Intellectual Experience:
The play was very relatable, especially at such a divided time in our country. It entailed the theme of social oppression and privilege. The death of Leo Talbot was one of the central conflicts in the play. During this time period, there were few child labor laws and children were seen as cheap and "disposable" labor. I knew about the harsh treatment of children in America during the early 1900's but I was unaware that similar occurrences were happening across the pond. Through the acting and descriptive sets, I realized the true atrocities of this industrial period and recognized the constant conflict with privilege and the poor. The poor were taken advantage of and the Talbots stood as a prime representation of a family living for the hope of Talbot's success. In society today, i see this struggle of power and it was truly refreshing to witness both sides of the coin and to see the negative effects of power.
The Emotional Experience:
The Divine provides the audience with Katharsis as the actors bluntly demonstrate the atrocities of human nature. We live in a fallen world with evil and sin engrained into society. I believe that the play acts as an appropriate representation of this fallen state and provides a platform for the audience to step back and evaluate our human situation. The harsh realities of rape, homosexuality, abuse of power, and cost of fame are not happy elements, but real truths that happen whether we recognize them or not. Leaving the play I strangely felt guilty. I had done nothing wrong yet I felt like the Talbot's misfortune was somehow because of me. I think that the playwright wished the audience to truly think about our daily decisions and to evaluate how we live. One takeaway I learned is that I should appreciate this beautiful university I go to because it is an honor to be at this school. I'm thankful for a class that allows me to think about the world and to evaluate the choices and decisions in my own life.