The Spatial Experience
Overall, I found the set up of the auditorium to be quite effective. When I walked in, the curtains were raised so we could already see the show's set. Being able to see the main setting before the show even started allowed me, as a viewer, to get a sense of the type of show I was about to watch. In the good life, one's environment plays a pivotal role in their continued happiness. When a person's location makes the uncomfortable, any semblance of a "good life" becomes further away. For example, no one would claim that their life is good when witnessing a fight between family members. That same concept can be applied to the theatre. The first step to enjoying a performance is for the set up of the theatre to be enjoyable.
The Social Experience
Unfortunately, all of my friends in a Good Life class had already attended the play when I went so I had to go to the play alone. By an incredible coincidence, I just happened to be seated near an acquaintance from an organization of which we are both members. It was nice having her there so I had someone to chat with during intermission. I do wish I had attended the show with my close friends because they're generally fun people to be around. We're always cracking jokes and can make what would normally be a dull experience more fun. I find that sharing experiences with my friends creates a bunch of inside jokes and stories that allows our relationship to grow.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
As I watch The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, I saw many of the conflicts that we see in today's society. Predominantly, I saw the overbearing influence religion exerts over everyone in the society. Especially among white, evangelical protestants, we see a culture that attempts to control the ins-and-outs of other people's live. In the play, this took the form of preventing artistic expression within the theatre. The members of the church set out on a mission to take down Sarah Bernhardt and her production, a mission which provided one of the main conflicts of the show. In real life, however, religious control takes on the far more sinister appearance of LGBTQ+ discrimination and anti-abortion sentiment that has permeated the more conservative portion of the United States population. It is necessary for one of the core values our country was founded on, the separation of church and state, to reclaim the floor in political discourse so we may live in a more harmonious society.
The Emotional Experience
I believe the true cathartic nature of the theatre is being able to sit back and enjoy the show. Theatre provides us with a relaxing escape from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. While it does this, however, plays and musicals often hold up a mirror to society and the people in their audiences. The play The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is no exception to that style of reflection. In this show, the themes of oppression, poverty, and sexual assault all appear. There is a necessity around the discussion of these issues as they are so prevalent in modern society. Their importance are even more pronounced with the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. He showed throughout his campaign and first weeks in office that he will take a counterproductive stance in regards to those issues, so now more than ever having a play that discusses these topics is necessary and cathartic.