The Good Life Performance on The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Aishwarya Rajendran

The Spatial Experience: The setting of the Constance Theater consisted of a vast space filled with chairs for audience members and a stage that had props for the play. There were several rows of chairs that were closer to the stage than the rest. I took my seat in one of these chairs to gain an appropriate view of the play. The seating arrangement made a positive impact as I was able to clearly decipher the emotions and actions of the actors. It also made the play seem more realistic as there were not many audience members in front of me. When there were differences in lighting, I felt like I was in the play itself. I was rather excited when the lights dimmed and the audience quieted as I had never been to a play before. However, it was just as I imagined when I first entered the theater. The role of place determines one's good life. If one surrounds his/herself with people who they find similarities with and those who allow them to be content with their lives, they are prone to act and do the same things with the people they identify with. Peer pressure is a good example of this as children are resistant to saying "no" to their friends in things they would not normally perform. The setting of the performance emphasized the audience's role of being respectful to the actors on stage as well as to the people around them. Two roles were expressed by the audience- their normal behavior as well as their attentive ones. Each were expressed at appropriate times during the play, which highlights the fact that our environments shape our actions.

The Social Experience: My experience at the theater was enjoyable. To get ready, I read a brief description of the play and watched the required video on the Constance Theater. I attended with one of my friends who enhanced my overall experience of the play. We realized we shared the same emotions towards some of the characters during the intermission and by the end of play. For example, we both felt sympathy for Talbot's younger brother Leo, who aimed in finding "the good" for the family. We both agreed his actions were due to his innocence as he became angry when Talbot stole goods from his school. He threatened Talbot that he was never going to talk to him again if he did not return these goods. We also felt hostile against The Boss who treated the workers and Leo poorly. He did not have any rules or regulations as he was careless in allowing Leo to stay underground during the Sarah's entrance into the scene. I think sharing experiences emphasizes the meaning of the play and its characters. It unifies people and creates a sense of universality as they are able to find similarities. This can range from how one connects with the play itself, his/her emotions, and his/her thoughts of the play.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The setting of the play was in Quebec City of the 1900s. The play introduced many important parts of history that emphasize the importance of how far society has come today. For example, there was the issue of class- the lower class vs. upper class- social oppression vs. privilege, child labor and the absence of freedom in society. Although some of these issues still exist today in some parts of the world, they are not as prevalent as they used to be. The play emphasized these issues thoroughly. The central issue was that Michaud had to choose between his love for theater or the church and the church forbids Bernhardt to perform plays that goes against the church's principles. I was aware of some of these issues before watching the play as society then, can be considered conservative. The issue about the lack of freedom does not necessarily relate to me, however some of my peers do discuss how they are barred from pursuing certain career paths because of their parents. The idea of the male sex as the breadwinner of the household also exists in some countries today. The issues that were discussed highlighted the importance of why they do not exist today. Society's standards and regulations are much more durable compared to what they initially were.

The Emotional Experience: "Katharsis" or the concept of coming clean can be applied to all humans. This can range from owning up to a lie that one has told to religiously affirming all the wrongs one has committed. Coming clean can be applied to the play as Michaud gives up his stable future as a seminary for a world of theater that is unstable. Perhaps, this can be related to the good life. The good life can be attained by risk takers- people who feel that taking a risky step can lead to satisfaction and happiness. For Michaud, this life was giving up his life as a seminary. The idea of coming clean presents a sense of satisfaction for individuals. As mentioned in the play, people are afraid to speak when it comes to politics and theater. Talbot had the opportunity to come clean about the stolen goods, however, he did not as it would lead to more consequences for him and his family.


Created with images by MartinStr - "summit cross peak happiness hochlantsch"

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