Good Life Performance Kathryn Gutierrez

Me and Kristin Recker outside the Constans Theater at "The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt"

The Spatial Experience: Having seen a show in the Constans Theater before, I was familiar with the space and setting as an audience member. However, my attention was immediately drawn to the opening set already visible on stage. I was captivated by the colorful stain glass windows and questioned the purpose of the six beds evenly spaced on stage as well as the general setting of the opening scene. My seat was directly center so I had a perfect view of the entire stage. When the lights finally dimmed and the audience fell silent, I felt a surge of anticipation and excitement for what was about to come. I did not know much about the play beforehand aside from the description of the plot and additional information provided in the playbill, so I was very curious about what I was about to see and experience. As a dancer, the stage is a special place for me so I enjoy any chance I have the opportunity to spend time in a theater. In general, I feel like a place can have a large impact on the Good Life. A person growing up in New York City is going to experience much different things in their life than someone living in a Haitian village. Our surroundings shape a lot about our personalities and who we are as people so I believe place greatly influences the Good Life.

The Social Experience: I attended the play with my friend Kristin who is also pictured in the previous photo. We planned to attend the show on the same day and met at her dorm to drive over together. I expected to not know anyone else at the play as the class has a large number of students in it, but was surprised to run into several people who I knew personally or recognized to some degree. It was kind of interesting to experience the play with so many people, some who I knew very well and others who I had seen for the first time that day. The play challenges some questions that can be very personal so it is interesting to go through that experience and question these aspects of our lives while surrounded by complete strangers. In regards to the Good Life, I think shared experiences are important because human connection is a crucial part in our survival and prosperity as people. Shared experiences also give people things to talk about and relate to because they have something in common which can be a comforting thing.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The play highlighted the fact that in our society, illegal or immoral things are constantly occurring and are going unnoticed or are simply not being addressed. Oftentimes when something happens that makes us uncomfortable, we turn the other way and assume it is not our problem. This happens several times in the play such as when the church chooses to bribe Talbot's silence instead of punishing the priest in question and addressing the situation properly and when everyone ignores the wrongdoings occurring at the factory. However, there is also a theme of rebellion as Talbot eventually stands up for himself with the help of Michaud and Sarah Bernhardt rebels against the norms and expectations of society. This is very relatable to the current events in our country within the past few weeks. Members of our nation who are unhappy with the way things are going have taken to protesting through a variety of marches. They are standing up for what they believe in and not allowing higher powers to dictate them just as Michaud did. The play gave me a better understanding of these events in history while also providing me with the opportunity to examine these themes and events and their place in our daily lives.

The Emotional Experience: 'The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt' provides us with an opportunity for katharsis because it forces us to question our own morals. The play involves priests lusting after women and preying on small children, lying, cheating, the covering up of murders, and several other immoral activities. In being presented with these themes, the audience must question whether or not the events taking place are acceptable, how one should go about responding to the situation, and what they might do if they were in the characters shoes. And while the play is set in a much different time period than present day, it is still relatable because shameful acts like these still occur daily around the world. While watching the play, the audience can't help but think of times they have behaved poorly as the characters in the play have and test their moral sense of right and wrong. These sins may be things we choose to ignore and push down into our subconscious as to avoid guilt and the negative repercussions that inevitably follow. However, as Dr. Pagán stated, the theater forces us to think about these things and their place in our own lives, and this play does exactly that.

Credits:

Photo taken by Kathryn Gutierrez

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