Last semester I took the course Theatre Appreciation at The University of Florida so I had already grown accustomed to the Constans Theatre. Being attached to the Reitz Union, I feel that this takes a lot of romanticism out of the theatre setting. My favorite play I have seen in Gainesville was at the Hippodrome Theatre downtown. Just its setting alone gave the play a sense of intensity and importance. Even though the Constans Theatre lacks the dominance of the Hippodrome, it succeeds in having a cozy and inclusive environment on the inside. I sat near the back of the audience, however, the light positioning and acoustics of the room made me feel as if I was in one of the front rows. The Constans seemed more recently renovated than the Hippodrome and the high quality sound proofing really became apparent when the lights dimmed and the audience quieted for the beginning of the play. The role of place is that it gives an individual a preemptive feeling or context to the experience they are about to have during this play.
The day I attended the play I had been having a relatively busy day and simply attended the play alone. I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts with sneakers and upon arriving to the venue it became apparent that I was indeed underdressed. After taking my seat in the nearly full theatre I felt a sense of community with the strangers around me. We all were embarking on a journey together. The Divine took me and the entire audience on the same exact rollercoaster ride of emotions that prevailed throughout the play. I believe that the role of shared experiences gives humans the sense of community that they are always striving for. This sense of community allows us to enhance and progress culture through the experiences we are living through together.
Cultural and Intellectual Experience
Despite this play being set at the turn of the century, its approach and representation of hypocrisies and culture still resembles the issues of the present.In this setting the power and pervasiveness of the Catholic Church is analogous to that of the US Government today. Talbot can be seen as a 19th century Robert Snowden to some degree. Talbot works for a giant establishment appearing to represent holiness while something entirely different is taking place behind the scenes. Talbot is incentivized to keep his abuse private unless his life will most likely be ruined. We get to see how Talbot struggles with the issue of telling the truth or keeping his pain under wraps knowing more will be hurt if he does not speak up. This is an interesting ethical dilemma that I did not know would be approached in this play. Even though this particular issue is not a problem I have personally been confronted with It makes me think that for every man like Robert Snowden who concedes the truth to the masses and goes to war with the bigger establishment there must be 100 men who keep quiet.
I think that this play helps the audience reach a katharsis because it allows us to be who we want to be. Even though Bernhardt may not be the main protagonist of the play, she is seen as a powerfully shining figure. She consistently refuses to oblige the Catholic Church and stays an influentially independent woman throughout the play. However misguided and not well rounded her character is, she is one example of being who you want to be. Her character was the most impactful part of the play for me because she overcame her time period and rose to the top of culture despite the church not being behind her and the gender discrimination of the time. I believe that a key to being human and being happy is finding out who you are and living that to its full potential.