The Spatial Experience: When I left my dorm to go to the play, I was expecting an amateur performance with a small stage and decent props. However, once I walked up to the outside of the theatre, it was a lot larger than I expected. Then after entering the theatre, I was fascinated with the design of the theatre. There was a neat spiral staircase as well as many paintings and different pieces of artwork to further the beauty of the theatre. It was professionally built and this prepared me for the play I was going to see. I showed up about 10 minutes before the play began and was forced to sit in the back. This made it slightly harder to see the performance, but the beginning of the play involved the actors and actresses walking through the audience, which immediately allowed me to focus more on the play. When the lights dimmed and the audience became silent, I instantly became excited for the play to begin. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew whatever it was would be interesting. The large auditorium gave me much more respect for the play, even before it began because the size of the theatre gave the play a more professional appearance. The role of places in the Good Life vary from person to person, but for me I believe it helps mold a person into who they are today. Every place that has an impact on a person sticks in their mind, and they remember that place as they grow older and get closer and closer to their perceived "good life."
The Social Experience: One of the reasons that I really enjoyed the play was the fact that I went to it with some of my friends. I attended the play with four friends of mine who are actually all from my high school as well. Because I am so comfortable with all of them, we were able to clarify what was going on in the play with each other, asking questions as well as debating about events that were occurring. To prepare for the play, I read the biography of Sarah Bernhardt. I found out several fascinating things about one of the main characters in the play to enable myself to be ready for the play. If I had not read up before the play, I would have been confused as to what is going on. It is critical to read up on the play you are going to watch, so you are able to follow along with lines and material you have already heard of. Shared experiences in the Good Life allows for conversation, discussion, and learning from others. Going along with a previous discussion question, I believe that the Good Life requires the ability to interact with others. If not, a person would be forced to find the "good life" all on his/her own.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The performance really forced me to reflect on society today. The story took place at the turn of the 20th century, and the play displays how unfair society was at this time. There was a clear divide between the rich and the poor, as the rich took what they wanted while the poor were seriously mistreated. The poor were forced to follow tasks given to them for any amount of money, because any small amount would help keep their family alive and eating. There were several central themes, but the two that I would say were most prevalent was a lack of honor and secrecy as well as the divide in classes. The first theme relates directly to schooling at the time, as the Priest struck a deal with Mrs. Talbot that if Talbot became a priest, he would put Leo through free schooling. In order to do so, Talbot was forced to give up some of his honor and admit to bad things he was allegedly committed. The Priest also tried to cover up all of the messed up things he did in his life. Eventually the play ends with Michaud ratting out the Priest, resulting in the Priest killing himself. These events relate to a lack of honesty and secrecy in the acts. The second theme was a divide in classes. This was easily seen through the factory, where poor women worked illegal hours for extremely low and unfair pay for a very rich businessman. To add to this, there was child labor issues as well, because Leo was working in the factory when he is clearly too young to be working legally. Before the play, I didn't know much about this time period. I knew that the divide in classes was big in the mid 1900's, but discovering that it played an ever larger role in the early 1900's was a shock to me. This play woke me up to reality, as I realize just how unfair the world used to be. Also, the illegal activities committed by the church directly relate to my life. Back in my home town, my rabbi was actually laundering some extra money for himself when it didn't belong to him. It came out about 3 months after he started and he was sent to jail. This connects to my life in this way, as I was reminded that there are bad people in almost every part of the world, and that you should always be prepared for the worst in case something goes wrong.
The Emotional Experience: The play truly shows some tragic situations which can provide an opportunity for katharsis. The sad truths about early family deaths back in the day, as well as the themes I mentioned in the last section allow for deep thoughts on life. This play showcases to people the depressing reality of our past. The fact that there was such a divide in classes kept many countries from developing into the countries they are today. The unfair treatment of the lower class forced them to work extra hours for less money, while shortening their lives in some cases. In the case of Leo, he works too long in the factory (even though he shouldn't be working at all) and as a result, he dies in an accident. The fact of the matter is that the tragedies in the play can't be ignored. They should be a lesson to the audience that these kinds of actions did occur at one point in society, and that we have to ensure that these types of activities never occur again. Mankind is certainly not perfect, but katharsis is defined as the opportunity to come clean, so it is critical for individuals to come clean if they are performing any illegal or unethical actions.