On January 25th, 2017 I saw a play called The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt. As I seldom see plays and am not all that in-touch with my theatrical side, it was a very different but interesting experience. I had a good bit of trouble paying attention due to the disconnect between the humanities and me and sleep deprivation, however, the parts that I saw imposed various sensations upon me.
Photographs by Adam Haubenstock and friends; Taken on January 25th, 2017 at Constans Theatre.
THE SPATIAL EXPERIENCE
The theater has a very grandiose feeling to it. All the ceilings are very high and the lighting is very conducive to an intense experience. The seating is well-designed to allow a full range of view for each audience member with elevation varying from row to row in order to accommodate tall, view-blocking theater-goers. I was in the back for the performance, but that did not hinder me from being able to enjoy it. The audio system aided in this by being all-encompassing and providing sound to the entire seating area as opposed to just the front.
When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, a curious feeling swept over me. It reminded me exactly of being at the movies. Everybody is there for a reason and the witching hour is approaching. It is difficult not to be excited when this happens. Furthermore, the massiveness of the auditorium makes one feel like he is part of something big. Being one of many spectators gives me a niche that makes it even more fulfilling to be watching the performance. And I believe that feeling carries over into what it means to be living the good life: to be part of something bigger is to acknowledge that there are things that are out of our control that will happen no matter what we do. Simply being a small part of the macrocosm is a meaningful role.
THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE
It is a great feeling to be attending a performance with friends. I went with about five other people which allowed me to discuss my thoughts on the matter with others and mesh our experiences together. This strengthens the impact of the performance by shedding new and different perspectives on the meanings and messages the performance was intended to convey. To prepare, I took a shower and put on nice clothes. Doing these two things allows me to be more confident in my general appearance and focus less on what I am wearing and more on the performance. Shared experiences contribute to the good life by enhancing each individual's understanding of what was experienced through discussion and generally making the experience more enjoyable by going through it with friends.
tHE CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE
The performance not only made me feel emotions that I do not normally feel, it educated me on cultural history. I was unaware of the kinds of lifestyles that were commonly lead back in that time period. For instance, I did not know that it was typical for poor males to go to a seminary and attain priesthood. Also, the performance did a good job of bringing awareness to the bad working conditions and jobs that many women from that time period experienced. Noticing things like these allow me to better understand what happened in the past and how we got to where we are today. The play shaped my view of the struggles women have endured in the endeavor for job equality.
tHE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE
While the play educated my about the rough times the industrial period brought about, it also discomforted me with how harsh it was back then. The play seriously exposed the low standard of living and disparity of wealth that was prevalent back then. Factory owners enjoyed lavish lifestyles, whereas their workers endured lifestyles comparable to dirt. In cases like these, the performance served to make me very uncomfortable about the inner workings of the world.
On the other hand, the play provided witty humor that reminded me that people back then still enjoyed life much in the same way as we do now. Families were arguably even closer because of the lack of distracting technology which is a definite advantage. Things were simply different and emotions were arguably more intense to fit the intense lives people had to lead. Many of the things we take for granted now people thoroughly enjoyed back then. Overall, the performance served to send me on an emotional ride through sadness and laughter which I very much appreciate insofar as it makes me feel extremely human.