My Spacial Experience
I've been to only one other theatre in my life, Ford's Theatre. If you think you can't rival the prowess and history that such a theatre can embody, you're right. Constans Theatre can't compete in that department, yet i'm surprised by its simplicity. A simplicity which moreover describes my physical theatrical experience at Constans Theatre as a whole.
There's not multiple decks, nor any balconies. Simple rows of stadium style seating line the theatre whilst two sets of mirroring stairs accompany them. In all the theatre employs an "all else equal" style, where there is no distinction between the audience. No special accommodations. Everyone views the same show, in the same light. A social distinction that actually parallels the play.
The entrance to the lobby of Constans Theatre
Walking into Constans Theatre with my friends made me feel like a student. I wasn't VIP and I wasn't backstage, was basically there to enjoy a show. Yet, when the lights dimmed and the show was on its way I felt inferior. I was sitting right in the middle and was "shushed" right from the get-go. From my position, I had the perfect vantage of the stage and was forced to watch the show.
Finally, the size of the auditorium didn't impact my experience. The hosts were very dilligent in occupying the seats up front first. We all sat together and in unison. Again, adding to the "no distinctions" theme that i mentioned earlier.
My Cultural and Intellectual Experiences
I didn't know a single thing about the play walking into Constans Theatre. Yet, as per usual I was open to a new en-devour and prepared myself for some "revolutionary" piece. Being quite well read, i'm quite satirical when it comes to literature. I fully expected some drama on "being yourself" or "fall of a tyrant and the troubles of the underdog". I was pleasantly confused.
Being honest, I didn't understand what in the world was the point at first. I actually thought it was going to be a satire on the Catholic church's influence during industrial age America. But you know, focusing on its perversions and stereotypes. And well, I was partially right. I started to be "pleasantly confused" when social inequality started to play its role; the "balance "between the factory owner and his employees. It took me by surprise but i'm glad Bauchard (The Writer) tossed that in there. He also tied all his themes together quite nicely.
Entering the theatre : I was amused at the irony of taking a "selfie" wth a self-portrait.
The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt didn't really shed light on any new topics. Nor did it change any of my existing views. If anything it strengthened them, and brought a joyous laugh to my own philosophy. The play allowed me to "witness" a lot of what i've been reading lately. Industrial America is a popular time period in literature and the costumes and set design helped fill in gaps in my imagination.
By far my favorite exposition of the entire play was when the factory owner (Whose name escapes my memory) utters in paraphrase that "you want a better price on the boots, but you don't know how I go about to get such a price!". He then goes on to highlight the social benefits of child labor and the workers "unhealthy" conditions. Tragedy is rivaled by money. Fear of unemployment drives money. And poverty mitigates the fear of unemployment. It's this solitary cycle that the play shed a bit of light on... It's never been a mystery the power that wealth has, but the irony of social prejudice on wealth is just all too entertaining.
Nowadays we complain about companies outsourcing labor and production, yet we shop online to just save a few dollars. We advocate human rights online, yet our computers are all built in sweatshops. It's beautiful really.
"If I don't hire these children then someone else will" - Factory Owner, The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt
My Social Experience
I coordinated to watch the show with a few of my friends. Being with my friends made attendance comfortable, yet the play unbearable. Unfortunately they weren't all too excited with the play and socially, you don't want to be the outcast that is actually looking forward to it. Good thing I wasn't that guy. Seriously, I came in with a mindset that this was the worst thing i could be doing with my night, a complete waste of time. This changed after the first half. The second half of the play was much more influential, especially the t
Fortunately I met with a friend from home during intermission. I helped fill him in on the plot and we enjoyed the play together once my friends had scattered. Helping him understand furthermore helped me realize what was really happening. Sadly, I feel his experience was largely shaped by my bias and own interpretation of the play. Much like in real life, our experiences are molded by who we spend our time with. The "Good Life" to me is going to depends much on the social predispositions I've been exposed to overtime. We are social beings after all.
You're not alone on the road to the "Good Life"
My Emotional Experience
I can without a doubt say that my room is a complete mess. There's dirty clothes everywhere, food under the covers and trash scattered. If I recognize that my room is dirty, is it now clean? Just because theatre has shed light on prevalent issues doesn't mean they're resolved! This play doesn't give us a path to "Katharsis", only action can. We don't even see this ideal unfold in the plot. The closest we came to "Katharsis" was when Leo was given the offer by Brother Casgrain to enroll in the ministry and escape the factory. Yet still, this was only offered as incentive to cover up the perversion (Literally) of the Catholic church! The Divine hasn't broken any molds in society. Only a truly ignorant person couldn't have known that those atrocities occur all around us on a daily basis. Yes, the play did give us a chance to examine our "less than noble" qualities as a society; are we any better off for it?
Leaving the Theatre : Life's Black and White
Katharsis is synonymous with "purification" which is a verb. To move towards purification we have to collectively do something about the situations portrayed. Meyer and Sarah know that they're the voice of social inequality with their new play. They're going to be the spark, but they're not the fire.
During our talk back one student mentions that the window Brother Casgrain jumped out of changed from "tall rectangular with a circle on top, to just a circle with no steps". Perhaps this is a bit of "Katharsis". Where we finally see something being done about the ministry's prevalent distortion. However gruesome, Brother Casgrain's discontent with Meyer's choice to leave left him empty. His timely suicide brings an end to the character that symbolized said religious distortion and leaves the church with a new footing in Talbot. Here we finally see fire.
Overall I enjoyed the play, and I hope my blunt discontent at "Katharsis" isn't overwhelming. It's simply my opinion. The cast members did a great job and I thank the University of Florida, my professors and teaching assistants for this exposure and experience.