The Spatial Experience
In live theater, the spatial experience influences an audience's experience as a whole; it is for this reason that so much thought is put into a theatre's design and physical layout. This is exemplified perfectly by The Constans Theatre, whose unique entrance and layout, as well as its many art installments, wows the audience before the show has even started.
I was very impressed by the Constans as soon as I walked in. The art installments and unique architecture combined to make a good first impression - I was ready to find my seat and enjoy the show! Once in my seat, lighting became very important. While bright, the theatre was rife with voices; friends chatting, seat-neighbors introducing themselves, and much more. As soon as the lights dimmed however, the sound stopped immediately. This instant hush made me eager for the show to start. Lucky for me, the curtain was already moving! I was lucky as well, I think, to have a center seat, and to be able to see over my peers in front of me. Without such distractions, I could be fully immersed in the play, and lose those tethers to real life outside of the drama. Given that the spatial aspect of the performance was such an important part of the play as a whole, I think it is very fair to say that place is an important aspect of the Good Life. Personally, I think leaving Gainesville after college, which would mark my 16th year here, will be an important aspect of my quest for the Good Life.
The Social Experience
The people who surround you, even during a hushed theatre performance, greatly affect your experience as a whole. It is no coincidence, then, that theatre is largely a social event; friends and strangers alike meet to enjoy a show, and then often share their reactions to it following the performance.
(From left to right) My friends Todd Carlson, Spencer Moreno, and myself
I was very fortunate to attend the performance with two of my friends. Before meeting at the theatre we discussed what we should wear, and it was fun to see everyone dressed nicely, but in their own styles. I was also lucky, as I sat got to meet several new people both in line and in the theatre. I think that, without the social aspect, my experience would have been greatly reduced; I would have had no one to enjoy the show with or to discuss it afterwards. In this way, I believe that shared experiences are a very important aspect of the Good Life. These connections build strong bonds, strong friendships, and make day-to-day activities much more fun.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
It was interesting to me, considering the very different time and place, that some of the central themes and debates in the play still exist in our society. For example, in pitting Michaud against Talbot, and thus privilege against social oppression, we see the heart of an issue that is still often debated to this day. I appreciated that the play brought forth so many problems and was really thought provoking; good theatre should be more than just entertainment. The "talk back" also added to the intellectual aspect of the show, as we got ask interesting questions and deeper explore the plays various themes and messages.
The Emotional Experience
In bringing to light various deep-set societal problems, The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is absolutely an opportunity for katharsis. Although we may actually exemplify some of the negative traits presented in the play, in watching someone else do these bad things and then opposing them for doing so is absolutely a way in which we may come clean. Only in recognizing negative traits can we hope not to exemplify them. This play is definitely a call for social equality, amongst other things, and hopefully, if it reaches enough willing audiences, it can achieve some of those goals; such is the aim of socially-conscious theatre.