by robert burwell

The Spatial Experience: I did not expect for the theater to be in the Reitz Union, which I found to be interesting as it almost desensitized the experience by having us wait in an area that we walk through daily. Walking into the theater was not as comfortable as I was hoping, as I did not get to choose where I sat, so I was pressed up against the wall. This seat was not ideal, as I could see slightly behind stage and whenever the characters would come through the side doors, they were behind me but directly into my ear. I almost wished the theater was smaller, as it was sad to see it half empty. I thought when the lights went out that it was neat how they started out with so many characters walking through the aisles, as it really got the audience's attention to start out the performance. I feel as if surrounding can contribute to how you view your situation, as the level of comfort and familiarity can make or break the feeling. I feel as if Disney focuses a lot on the aspect of place in creating their version of the Good Life by creating a world that creates a happy, carefree feeling to their guests. I feel as though place can contribute a lot to how people view the good life.

The Social Experience: I attended the play with a group of friends that live on my floor. To get ready we all attempted to dress nicer than we would on a normal day and read through the assignment together to get a better feeling for what we were to look for. I felt as if attending with friends made it more manageable, because we could discuss what we saw during intermission and after the performance. It also was less intimidating since I did not have to go alone. I feel as if going to any performance with friends that are open to ideas will make the experience better.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: It made me think a lot more about the hardship faced during the industrial era. I knew that for many, it was a time filled with famine even with hard work. I understood that working conditions were beyond awful and child labor laws had yet to be established. In many cases of poverty, people tend to turn towards their religion, I just never thought that they would turn toward religion for financial reasons as the Talbots did. During the performance there were many times where I began to feel conscious of my clothing, wondering if they were machine made or hand made. I started wondering if situations similar to the play were occurring in developing countries such as China. Even though the United States is attempting to prevent China from undergoing the destructive process of industrialization, both socially and environmentally. Even with this "assistance", this story line could be potentially playing out in developing countries, making the very clothes that we take advantage of each day.

The Emotional Experience: I saw this performance slightly after watching Spotlight, a film about the exposure of some of the less than noble tactics of the Catholic church, so during this performance I found some similar expressions to be shown by the characters. Religion has always been an uncomfortable topic in my household and my social experiences have put a negative label on Catholicism which was only made stronger by the combination of Spotlight and this performance. At the same time, I felt as if the characters also released the same emotions that are felt widely about poverty and sweatshops. By combining the negative sentiments of multiple aspects of society I felt as though a lot of members of the audience could connect with it in some capacity.

Photo Credits: Allison Welch

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