GOOD LIFE PERFORMANCE by mICHael Hunter

The Spatial Experience

I arrived early to the performance and had to sit in the lobby for approximately 10 minutes. Upon entering the theater, I got a sense of excitement. The theater was much nicer than I had expected. Walking down the aisles of red, velvet chairs, I saw the stage and the quality of the set surprised me. They were showering the stage with fake snow, which I thought was a nice touch because it briefly touched on the setting of the play, which was Quebec City, Canada. When the lights dimmed and the audience hushed, I wished that I had a bag popcorn because I was anticipating an excellent performance. I was seated in the fifth row, directly in the middle. I enjoyed that because that is where I prefer to sit at the movie theater as well. Sitting up front in the middle enabled me to see the stage very well, but when the actors came in from the door behind me, I had to look around and watch them perform that way, which created a sense of perspective. The performers were using their environment to entertain their audience. This shows how important place is in the Good Life and how place can affect the experience of someone.

The Social Experience
In the pictures above, one can see the social experience of going to a play required by IUF1000. In the top right, one can see students taking pictures proving that they actually went.

My TA had told us to dress nicely when attending the performance, so I wore dress pants, a dress shirt, dress shoes, and a tie. I've been to plays with my mom, and we always dressed up and looked classy. I come to find most other students in jeans and t-shirts. I was overdressed, so I took off my tie and rolled up my sleeves to appear more casual. I attended the play with one of my friends, who wore jeans and a sweater. She sat to my left and to my right sat strangers. Attending the play with a friend enhanced the experience for me because it gave me someone to discuss what was happening in the play and voice my opinion. However, not everyone in the theater showed perfect etiquette. It annoyed me that the girl in front of me was on her phone most of the show, looking at Instagram and texting. It amazes me that people cannot go three hours without their phones, or an hour and a half for the three strangers sitting next to me. The girls adjacent to me left at intermission, which gave me a little extra leg room. Having a friend there really enhanced the experience. It allowed me to voice my opinion and ask questions if I did not understand something. Everything is better with a friend, and that is a constant concept in the Good Life. Whether the experience is good or bad, it always makes the experience better to have a friend experiencing it with you.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The play takes place in Quebec City around the time of the Industrial Revolution, more or less the 19th century. After the performance, the actors told us about how they prepared for the show and how they went about researching the topic. The play was based off of three locations: the church, the factory, and the theater. One of the main issues of the play were the working conditions of the factory and how under-aged children were working there and dying there. Previous to the play, I had discussed the Industrial Revolution in class, but the play gave a new perspective. During the "talk back", the actor who played Leo discussed how he had to change his perspective and realize how poor the conditions were during the Industrial Revolution. He also discussed how this issue is still present in today's society, which resonated with me. I look at all of my clothes and none of them are made in America. I just shrug it off and wear it. I don't realize that someone in another country is sacrificing themselves in order to make the clothes. Some people do not have the luxury and opportunity to educate themselves. They are forced into work because their family needs them to or need to support themselves. They risk everything for very little in return.

The Emotional Experience

As Dr. Pagán explains in her online lectures on the Antigone, theatre presents “topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, or culturally radical.” This was the case on multiple occasions during the play. The main example of this came when Talbot, seeking to become a priest, sleeps with Madeleine. This was surprising in the sense that religiously, priests are sworn to celibacy. Seeing the two flirt and kiss and allude to what they wanted to do was a little uncomfortable for a moment, but that is an aspect of the theater. Theatre “gives the audience an opportunity to look at itself to examine its less-than-noble qualities and in the process to ‘come clean’ about what it means to be human and to be happy.” A part of being human is doing things that you know shouldn't necessarily be done, especially if it makes you happy. This was the case in the play with Talbot and Madeleine along with Michaud and the theater. He had chosen to be a priest but also yearned to perform. He wanted to write a play and act with the Divine Sarah Bernhardt. Both of these experiences provided us an opportunity for katharsis, or "coming clean", because we could relate to the characters. Some might associate themselves with the characters in the play and when they did something, it may have given them an opportunity to "come clean" and experience katharsis.

The Total Experience
These pictures display the sequence of events of the night. From the top to bottom, you see me waiting in the lobby before the show, waiting in line, capturing what it was like to stand in line to get into the play, noticing the artwork outside of the theater, taking part of the "talk back", and then leaving with the other students.

Credits:

Created with images by Ben Sutherland - "Working an Industrial Revolution era loom" • falco - "church window window rosette" • Falkenpost - "auditorium baltimore maryland" • Tim Green aka atoach - "Tragedy and Comedy"

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