Good Life Performance Ellyn Gomulka

A "selfie" of me in the lobby of the theater next to one of the sculptures.

The Spatial Experience: Though I had never visited the Constans Theater, I am familiar with the Reitz Union within which is it located. I was pleasantly surprised as I entered the theater doors, as the inside of the theater has a completely different ambiance than the surrounding areas of the Reitz Union. I went from bright lights and hearing the noises of students talking and laughing in the Reitz to a more dim lighting feature and complete silence. I was greeted by a friendly staff member who scanned my student ID and then another who handed me a playbill. I was seated on the right hand side of the stage, which did cut off my view of the side stage slightly. Had I been seated in the middle, the beds and sewing machines that were lined up on stage would have appeared centered. As the lights dimmed and the audience began to quiet down, my anticipation for the play began to grow. The auditorium was large and spacious, and the students viewing the play at the time only filled up about a third of the theater. The role of place in the good life is the place where one experiences things, and undoubtedly varies from person to person. Furthermore, the role of place in the good life can have either a positive or negative effect on the person attempting to achieve it. For example, living in a quiet dorm near the library may encourage a student to study more and thus enhance their chances of achieving the good life, while living in a loud fraternity house may influence a student to choose partying over academics.

The Social Experience: I choose to attend the good life play by myself. I feel that this choice did enhance my experience in the sense that a lot of the students that attend the play in groups weren't paying as much attention as I was. I rarely do things alone, so it was peaceful to go at my own pace and not have to rely or wait for any friends. To get ready for the performance, I put on a little bit of makeup, picked out my outfit, and drove to the Reitz Union. While I choose to go on my own, I understand that experiencing things with others may have enhanced my experience and played a role in the good life in the sense that I would have been able to learn how they viewed the play differently that I did and gain a new perspective.

A real picture of Sarah Bernhardt, the setting of which looks very similar to the setting in the play featuring her dressing room.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: This play certainly opened my eyes to a culture that I was previously blind to. It took place in the early twentieth century and had three main settings: a seminary, a shoe factory, and a actress's dressing room. The central issues that really hit home to me was the main issue of child laborers in the factory, Talbot's experiences being molested by the priest at his former seminary, as well as the clash of the glamorous upper class and those living well below the poverty line. I remembered form my history classes in high school that child labor laws were put into place around this time in history, and I learned that through the theater Sarah Bernhardt was able to bring light to a scary situation. Furthermore, some of my grandparents live in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and there was recently a scandal where hundreds of people, primarily men, came forward with claims against the catholic church in the area, saying that one priest had abused his power and molested them as children (http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/03/altoona_diocese_catholic_clerg.html). This case differs from Talbot's experience in that these people were eventually able to come forward with their stories, while Talbot choose to keep them to himself. I believe that coming forward and getting justice from the priest, as the people in Johnstown did, was a way of embodying the good life.

The playbill handed out at admission, containing background information on the characters in the play as well as the actors.

The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt embodies the idea of Katharsis in that Talbot does not come clean. He instead chooses to lie to the police and his mother about his molestation and all the things that it caused after the fact. In doing this, the priest at his new seminary rewards him for lying to cover up the scandal that had occurred by returning the stolen silverware to him and offering him and his brother a place in an expensive school for free. Sarah Bernhardt also comes clean by exposing the death of Talbot's brother at the hands of the factory owner who choose to break the child labor laws and by doing so sheds light on an unfortunate situation.

Created By
Ellyn Gomulka
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