My Constans Theatre Experience BY GABRIEL DUMEA

My friend and I, right before the play was supposed to start. Obviously we were very nervous here, as we were just being seated and had no idea what the play was like, other than the story behind it.

The Spatial Experience: As I entered the doors to the lobby with both of my friends at my side, I immediately was struck with anxiety as I noticed the swaths of crowds and people lingering near the door. Common sense alerted me that this is where the "good life" play would be taking place. Being as I have terrible social anxiety, even though most don't realize, I began to fear that this play would make me nothing but a nervous wreck, and only would be a painful chore. I was soon greeted by the ticket handler (which really meant handing in your UF ID) to only realize that I had booked for the day prior to when I was supposed to attend the performance. She let me go and moved some things around for me to attend, which allowed for a moment of clarity from my anxiety as I was lead into a almost empty theater at that time. It would soon fill up, but this gave me prime real estate in the theater, as I was situated right in front of the action, in very uncomfortable seating, in the front 2 rows. It however, allowed me to closely observe the actors and their mannerisms and other intricacies that could affect the play and how I perceived it. The theater was huge in size and scope, and could fit a large number of people, all of which were surprisingly quiet. It set a very strange feeling of discomfort, and as I looked around the large auditorium and observed the body language of others, I could tell that most did not want to be here either. Actually, I'm not sure that many people would want to spend their Saturday night watching a play for a class they were forced to take, but I myself don't go out often, so I figured I may as well schedule on and enjoy a play for one of the only times in my life I'd have an opportunity to go. I believe the role of place in the Good Life is having a sense of belonging, and feeling like you belong with the audience, and are able to read and understand how the audience reacts to a performance. Even in life in general, having a sense of being and belonging to a group or culture allows for broadening your own sense of identity and understanding who you are as a person. For me this play was extremely uncomfortable, and I know for a fact that I'd never be a major in the performing arts, but it was still an experience that I'd say impacted me positively, and something that I could take away from in the long term.

Me right after leaving the theater with my close friend that I attended the play with

I feel that attending the performance with friends allows for alternate insight into how others perceive the play and how other people see things and form opinions other than yourself. I think it's very important that other people attend a play or performance with you, it enhances the mood and allows you to observe and have a bit of insight into how they react and how they think. I attended the performance with my close friend and colleague, Cristian Dionisi. I've known him for quite some time, since fall semester began, but I only learned even more from him as I observed how different our reactions were, as the scenes in the play were acted out. To get ready for the performance, I just mentally prepared myself for large crowds of people, and read the story behind what the play was actually about. My friends also did the same, and we were easily able to keep up with the plot. My experience along with their experience made the play significantly more enjoyable, and allowed me to absorb the plot as well as the dialogue from multiple different perspectives. I believe firmly that the role of shared experiences in the "good life" is necessary for being able to form and conceive or fathom what the good life actually is. Without multiple perspectives and shared experiences, there would be no unique good life to aspire to for every single person. Life would be extremely boring with the same perspectives and opinions on everything, and it is this uniqueness of individuals that allows the good life to even be something we can think about and contemplate.

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

The central issue addressed in the performance is corruption in places of sanctity and worship, as well as the issue of extreme poverty and exploitation of the poor masses. I knew quite a bit about the time and setting of the play, as well as the context in which to interpret the central ideas and problems associated with the play. I had studied history and done research on the gilded era during the early 1900s, and I understood it was during the time where there was a massive surge of industry and also an era of an incredible wage gap and severe poverty. It really gave voice and emotion to history I had once considered boring and without any sort of use, and it changed my insight to a different one in how experiences and knowledge can be utilized. I learned that all knowledge and experiences are useful and practical in everyday life, and can be applied to different instances as time goes on. I believe we learn things for a reason, and as time goes on we are meant to apply those things to certain scenarios we encounter. My life has been so spontaneous and sporadic lately, but I feel like I have highs and lows for a reason. Without them my life would be boring and uninteresting, and things seem to ultimately work out for me in the end.

Jay, Cristian and I just before entering the theater in the lobby at the Constans.

I feel like theater allows people an emotional as well as a spiritual catharsis. It allows people to come to terms with their own corruption within their lives, and address head on issues that they may not accept or even refuse to acknowledge exist. The play and its dialogue serves as a guideline for how to address all of the negative qualities of humanity. You must approach it with dignity and grace, but also aggressiveness. Most importantly, you must tackle the problems at the root of the source. Catharsis not only allows us to let loose our emotional anguish and release and relieve pent up aggression at the unfairness of the world, but it also teaches us how to approach and tackle those same problems that life throws at us head on. It teaches us that being human and being happy means dealing with problems rather than having a utopia-esque paradise with no problems at all. It means addressing the faults in ourselves and humanity regardless from where they come. This, I believe, is the most important thing we can address in terms of identifying what the good life is and what it actually means to have the good life.

The Constans theater in a more natural setting with less people, I would be seated in the first two rows while watching the performance.

All photos of Jay, Cristian and myself were taken either by other people in line with us, or by myself.

Constans Theater photo: "University of Florida Constans Theater Air Handling Unit T2 Replacement." Foresight. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

The Divine play photos (both from the same source): Karas, James. "THE DIVINE: A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT – REVIEW OF SHAW FESTIVAL PRODUCTION." THE DIVINE: A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT – REVIEW OF SHAW FESTIVAL PRODUCTION. N.p., 01 Aug. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Credits:

Photo credits to myself, I received permission to use my friends in the photos.

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