A quick selfie right before entering the theater.
The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt by Michel Bouchard was a play about the struggle between justice and religion in Quebec City during an era filled with social issues. There were a lot of learning points from the experience of going to see the drama. While the story itself did enhance my understanding of social issues such as child labor and sexual abuse, there was also a lot of value in the experience of going to the theater itself. The physical aspects of the experience was just as valuable as the intellectual insight gained from watching the story unfold. All in all, I was largely inexperienced in the world of theater previously because it seemed very dull, but since this experience I can see the value in theater and appreciate all its merits.
The Spacial Experience
When I had initially entered the auditorium, my mind was not in the right place or mood for theater. I was out of my comfort zone because I was nearly late and was not entirely used to wearing formal wear. My previous theater experience was limited solely to middle school or high school plays and those did not really impress. The theater was a lot more elaborate and larger than what I expected so that was unusual for me. The experience was initially similar to going to the movies because although the audience is "supposed" to suspend their disbelief and become engrossed by the experience, I would often become hyper aware of the fact that I am in a theater. However as the play continued, I got more into it and it was weird when the lights came back on for intermission. I felt dazed because I was so entirely focused onto the scene and story in front of me since there is nothing else to focus on in the pitch black of the theater. The consuming atmosphere of the theater and all that it represents significantly enhanced my experience of the play. This relates to the pursuit of the good life in a way because it would truly be a blessing if my life was constantly filled with these meaningful, consuming experiences. I imagine that the spacial experience of theater helped frame my mind in a way that enabled me to be absorbed in the experience without distractions. I guess the takeaway here is that mindset contributes greatly to how much you can get out of the daily experiences in your life.
The Social Experience
I had went alone that night because the rest of my friends had already taken IUF in the previous semester. When I found a seat near the back, I became acquainted with Pierre, a stranger who had also gone alone. We did not talk at all after that so I did not have any direct social interaction with other people during the play. Despite this setback, I noticed that there was still an aspect of a social experience in the theater. Whenever something happened in the play that triggered a response from the audience, the shared experience enhanced my enjoyment of the play. Funny lines because hilarious with the add-on of the rest of the audiences' laughter. Sad or suspenseful scenes became more powerful alongside the silence of the audience. I guess this was because the reactions of those around me confirmed my own reactions in a way. The shared emotions of a group is very powerful. This relates a lot to the good life because it suggests that while it may not be entirely necessarily or even ideal to rely on other people as a crutch for your own pursuit of happiness, there is still value in sharing experiences with others.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
I had known about the cultural and social background of the story in regards to child labor and the sexual abuse of minors by priests. Every student learns about these social issues in history class. While the play did not necessarily "teach" me anything new about the controversial subject matters, it had value in providing a human face to historical situations that books often fail to do. It is easy to forget that history is the story of real humans and their experiences. We often become desensitized to the facts and figures in history because it is difficult put oneself in the shoes of those from the past. The excellent and realistic portrayal of the different characters in the play by the actors and actresses helps us sympathize with them. It is very eyeopening because my progression of thought after I internalized the idea that these are real issues (child labor, abuse, injustice) faced by real people back then was that people right now are also facing these same or similar problems. Overall, the intellectual takeaway from this experience is that I should take a step back sometimes and put myself in the perspectives and shoes of others more often because it opens up a lot of room for personal growth.
The emotional Experience
I think the play provided a catharsis through the growth of Michaud as a character. Michaud embodies the idea of catharsis the best in my opinion because at the start of the play he was largely ignorant and naive. His pursuit and realization of truth throughout the story developed a lot of emotion and tension that would eventually need to be released. The moment or action in the play that represented the catharsis would definitely have to be the embrace by Talbot and Michaud since they are both so overwhelmed by their emotions that they need to hug in order to release it all. In the beginning of the play, the actions of Michaud was influenced by his naivete. It was made clear to the audience that Talbot has a dark past. Michaud had to strive to learn about the truth so that not only he can help Talbot but also grow as a person. The play shows how easy it is to live life ignorant but there are hidden consequences to ignorance. Michaud's realization of the truth and growth as a character/person gives the audience catharsis because we all recognize the important in internal growth.
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