I attended the first performance of The Divine on January 20th which was what I later learned to have been the first time this play had ever been performed for an audience in the United States. I had heard some negative comments on good Life performances but I always try my best to keep an open mind about everything and form my own opinions from experience. Having done just this, I can truthfully say it was in my top three plays I have attended, and I have attended many more than just three plays in my life. The cast, set, and story were all put together wonderfully and made each other stronger than if any piece had been missing or different.
The Spatial Experience
Upon entering the theatre, I was hopeful as to what was to be performed over the next few hours. I was also surprised by how small the theater was. The auditorium in my public high school was at least double the capacity of the Constans Theatre. Because I had arrived early, I was seated in the area where the orchestral pit is usually but was now full of collapsible chairs. Since my seat was in the center of the very front of the auditorium, it meant that I was given the unique opportunity to observe the small details of the actors' faces and intricacies of the set (including a small mishap with the locking mechanism on a sewing machine/bed). The silence that eventually fell over the audience after the lights dimmed reminded me of my own time in theater, especially since I was sitting where I would have been performing. A person needs to be comfortable in the space inhabited in order to achieve the good life. A person who is in a position disadvantageous to another will never achieve the full satisfaction of the other and be brought down if the person does not make due with that less than wonderful position. There is always a way to make one's position better with a positive outlook, but this does not put aside the truth that the person in the better position who does not have to face adversity will have a simpler life with less struggles than the person who has to work for a good position.
The Social Experience
Myself and Tyler Elllman, the actor who portrayed Leo.
I chose to attend the play without any acquaintances to limit any sort of distraction I could have from the art being made before me. After a few dirty glances, those audience members around me were also no longer distractions during the performance. To prepare myself for the performance, I attempted to watch clips from other renditions but gave up my search when I could only find performances from Canada (unbeknownst to me that I was to view the first performance in the United States). Without anyone around me to distract from the performance, I was truly able to find meaning in the messages within the performance as well as pick up on the small theater jokes sprinkled within the performance. Seeing my friend on stage was very pleasing as well as surprising as I had no idea he was in it and had not taken notice to his name in the program upon my initial read. Shared experiences allow individuals to connect and find similarities between what makes their individual good life. Struggles that are shared are great ways for people to connect and make lasting relationships. My friendship with Tyler began with us both attempting how to work the televisions and headsets on an international AirFrance flight. This small struggle grew into a great friendship that became more like family (from that point on he always called me Mom when we talked).
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
Myself looking contemplative in Tzfat, Israel
The issues discussed within the play were those of child labor, child molestation within the church, and the disparity between the ideals of theater and the church. I have a limited background knowledge of these issues, and the ways in which these issues were portrayed ensured that the viewer did not need any prior knowledge to understand the problems these were causing in society and how each individual was conflicted by what society expected of them and what the powerful body that person reported to expected of them. The only issue this performance changed my view on was that of how devoted to the church those individuals are that have been permanently scarred by a powerful member of that church and still wish to occupy that position to make a positive impact on society. Prior to this I imagined that all victims of child molestation done by Priests would condemn the church and never want to be associated with it after escaping their molesters. The issue in this play that most pertains to my own life is when the factory manager explains how people just want to buy cheap things without knowing what sacrifices are made to keep the prices low. I try to buy items marked with free trade labels but this is hard to do with the financial limitations of a college student and the requirements of specific Fraternity expectations when it comes to dress code and general appearance as well as buying food to eat that has not been collected using any illegal work or slave labor. Whenever I make a purchase, I am always haunted by the unknown of what went into this product before it came into my hands.
The Emotional Experience
Myself in the lobby after the performance
An opportunity for katharsis is found in The Divine through the idea of rebellion. Every character rebels against the standard role expected of them in some way, and realizing this allows the audience members an opportunity to either realize how they currently rebel against stereotypical roles or how they internally want to do so but simply had not realized this urge until shown others accomplishing great things by pursuing this rebellion. Viewers can realize hopes that had previously been hidden and given new confidence in their abilities to achieve those deepest of dreams.