Spatial Experience: Stepping into the theatre, I felt a sense of comfort and excitement. Having been a student of theatre for my four years of high school, I enjoyed the familiarity of the space. I had come early and sat fairly close to the stage. Originally, I was a bit dismayed at being so close. I prefer distance between myself and the stage because I prefer the aesthetic distance. However, as the show progressed I enjoyed the fact that I was so close, largely due to the fact that the director had decided to break the fourth wall on numerous occasions and brought the characters into the audience. Even though the auditorium was large, they made the space intimate. Therefore, I realized that it was most likely the decision of the director to have the students escorted to fill up the front rows and could appreciate the decision. I was excited when the lights dimmed and the audience quieted as I knew I was about to go through an engaging and interesting experience. As a result, I feel like the role of space in the Good Life is that surrounding yourself in a space that you are most comfortable in and entices a positive emotion within you would allow you to get closer to the Good Life. This is only possible if you are well aware of your surroundings.
Social Experience: I attended the performance by myself due to the fact that I got a ticket last minute. But also, I prefer to watch theatre performances on my own or with other theatre students because I can then get more absorbed into the play. To get ready, I did get dressed up in a simple black dress and flats because I consider it theatre etiquette. I enjoy watching performances with strangers at times because many have unexpected reactions. While I know "going to the theatre" has historically been seen as a social experience, I never viewed it in that way. However, I do find that there are benefits in sharing an experience others because then you can discuss your likes and dislikes of the play. Therefore, shared experience has a role in the Good Life in that in connects individuals in various moments of life and creates a unique bond. This offers individuals empathy and the ability to build relationships.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The play was unique in that the plot was filled with various subplots. While Sarah Bernhardt is the title figure of the play, the play diverges into the world of the theatre and the church. Likewise, it addresses poverty in society. I believe the playwright was illustrating to readers that all these elements are connected and theatre was just a reflection of society. Therefore, it would be difficult to locate one central issue as the play exemplifies the good and bad in different elements of society. Audiences are exposed to the abuses of the church as well as abuses of factory life and the extent to which theatre can become the voice for those abused. Bernhardt's over-the-top persona reflects the need to bring a greater sense of reality to theatre. Therefore, this play exemplifies the importance of social and political theatre. I knew little about the play before going to see it. It did not necessarily change my views drastically. I already knew about the issues being presented. However, it did reinforce my views and show the importance of theatre in society and how it reveals the truths of society.
The Emotional Experience: The play is significant in that it displays the more gruesome sides of society. It shows how individuals carry emotional burdens due to these gruesome experiences. This is evident in Talbot's admittance to being abused by the church, as well the Brother Casgrain's similar experiences. Their admittance of this is their own katharsis in that they are coming clean about an event that they feel guilty about or even embarrassed about. The play exemplifies numerous socially unacceptable topics but those that need to be discussed in order to move forward as a society- such as child factory workers. Theatre is therefore a medium where these issues can be presented. The play, therefore, provides audiences katharsis by permitting them to consider their own demons and relate to the emotional burdens of the characters. The characters abilities to find katharsis permits individuals to find it themselves.