Good Life Performance:The Divine Hailley Loper

Photo: Cooper, David. Ric Reid, Darcy Gerhart, Fiona Reid, Andrew Bunker and Ben Sanders. 2015. http://jameskarasr eviews.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-divine-play-for-sarah-bernhardt.html.

The Spatial Experience

The Constans Theatre was a wonderful environment and a really nice theatre. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in for the first time and saw how clean and professional it was. The lobby is very nice but kind of empty which I appreciated because it doesn’t bombard you with things to look at and think about, so when we walked out during intermission and after the play was over it was a soothing environment in which we could continue to think about and discuss what had happened in the play. My seat was in the second row right in the front and I think it definitely helped make the performance better. We could see everything clearly and the actors walked right next to us, around us, and even behind us and we felt really immersed in the action. Also, being able to see everyone’s facial expressions so clearly was really powerful and the actors were great. The auditorium was fairly large and very full, so when everyone quieted down or reacted to a particularly exciting or funny scene it definitely helped enrich the experience, however being so close made it seem like a smaller setting and I could forget how many people there were. Place has a big role in the Good Life, your environment has a huge impact on how you feel and how you act. Different places bring people together who may have similar interests that can impact your life just because you happened to be at the same place.

The Social Experience

Photo: My roommate Megan Peeples and I

I attended the performance with my roommate Megan Peeples. We got ready to go together, getting dressed up and walking together we talked about what we thought the play would be like and what our expectations were. After the performance we then talked about the play and the whole experience and how it was different than what we had anticipated in that it was a really good performance and truly made us think about life and society. This enhanced the experience because we actually got to discuss it, if I had gone by myself I wouldn’t have anyone to talk about it with and the experience would not have been as meaningful. Being able to get other people’s perspectives can change your own and help you see things from other points of view and make you a more well-rounded and open minded person. Shared experiences bring people together and are so important to growing as a person and striving for the good life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Photo: Livernois Studio in Quebec City taken in 1890. Anglo Boer War Museum. http://angloboerwarmuseum.com/ Boer70z6_hero28_mason.html.

The play was set in Quebec City, Canada in 1905. This was during the height of the industrial revolution and many of the issues of that era were included such as problems with child labor and the terrible working conditions in factories. The main issue however, centered around the differences between the wealthy and working class as well as moral and ethical questions. The class divide was evident in the very different lives led by Sarah Bernhardt and other characters like the Talbot family. Sarah was very wealthy and was portrayed as vain, complaining about trivial matters and flaunting expensive new dresses and shoes. This is in stark contrast to the Talbot family and their worries about how they would pay for the boys’ school and the fact that Leo who was just a child was forced to work in a factory in dangerous conditions. It is a perpetual cycle where the wealthy profit off the poor without thought for their hardships and the poor are oppressed and fear the consequences of working to change their situation. I knew about the problems with social inequality prior to coming to the play, but this gave a more in depth look at how it really affected individual people which was a different perspective.This ties into the other main issue relating to moral conflicts. In the play Talbot was raped but is bribed to keep quiet to protect the church even though the man that raped him had hurt many others and deserved to be punished. The performance makes you question at what point do you ignore your morals to protect yourself and others even when you know something is wrong. It became clear that there is no singular right answer, everyone thought they were in the right. Brother Casgrain was protecting himself and the reputation of the Church, Talbot was trying to do right by his family, even The Boss had a point about how he runs the factory but it’s the wealthy who demand the product at the lowest price without a care for the factory workers. The performance didn’t necessarily change my mind about the issues that were discussed, but definitely made me think more deeply about them and made me try to put myself in their shoes. I can’t relate directly to the problems caused by social inequality, but I think everyone can relate to the moral conflicts presented in the play and trying to figure out what is right and wrong.

The Emotional Experience

Photo: Cooper, David. Wade Bogert-O’Brien and Ben Sanders. 2015. http://jameskarasreviews.blogspot.com /2015/08/the-divine-play-for-sarah-bernhardt.html.

The Divine provides us an opportunity for katharsis because it shows the characters’ journey in coming clean and figuring out who they are. We are presented with issues that are no doubt controversial and uncomfortable, such as the power of the church and the corruption within it as well as the rape of Talbot. We see the horrible conditions people were forced to work in because people like us want goods without thinking of the people who make them, and are confronted with the death of Leo representing the destruction of innocence due to the corruption and cruelty of society. We are forced to look into ourselves and question what we would do in their shoes, and to relate it back to our own lives. Everyone in the play believes that they are doing the right thing for understandable reasons even when they are doing things we wouldn’t traditionally think of as the ‘right thing’. This makes us take a look into ourselves and consider other people’s points of view in situations in our own lives. It personally made me be honest with myself about the situations in my life and come clean about the reality of these situations. Seeing the characters engage in their journey for katharsis provides us an opportunity to do the same and look into ourselves.

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