When entering the auditorium, I was astounded at the vastness of the theater itself. Due to its size, it was able to create a world separate from reality that sucks you in and emphasizes the play's setting. I was totally captivated with the area around me once I entered. My seat was right on the divide between the lower seats and raised seating, granting me the perfect level view of the stage which enhanced my experience and added a level of realism to what I witnessed due to the perspective. I was also able to interact with actors when they came across the isle during the play as it was right in front of me, which made the overall experience exhilarating. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, my gaze was glued to the stage and I was enamored by the actors and actresses in their early 20th century apparel. I was also able to take in the setting fully, appreciating the detail put into the beds and the large stained glass windows really solidifying the church theme. Again the size of the auditorium was daunting yet beautiful as it isolated myself from the outside world and threw me head first into Quebec City in 1905. Place provides opportunity in the good life. The phrase, "You were at the right place at the right time.", really applies to said journey as the location of experiences can change what you gain out of them drastically. In the play, had Sarah Bernhardt never visited Quebec city, the transformation of each character and their journeys would have been totally different and each character's attempt to reach the Good Life would have been stagnated or perpetuated depending on the character, like Talbot and The Boss for example.
I attended the play alone instead of in a group. I was able to shower and dress up semi-formally without the time constraints and stress of organizing meet ups and travel times with others. It made the arrival calm and pleasant which helped the experience. Even though I didn't talk with anyone at the beginning of the play, I was able to read the synopsis of the play within the program which granted me with a healthy background knowledge. This helped me comprehend and keep up with the plot of the play while noticing references here and there like Meyer mentioning Sarah's pet alligator. I also believed that a play wasn't really the place to be socializing. It was a place meant for engrossing oneself in the story of the production. After the play though I met a couple of friends outside the lobby and we were able to discuss our takes on the themes of the play and what we loved about the experience. It enhanced my personal experience because I was able to understand other interpretations of the play, contemplate complex themes and think on a higher level compared to day to day conversations. Shared experiences help individuals find and define their own paths. By going through tragic and beautiful experiences together, we are able to better understand each other and the world around us and discover what we want out of the Good Life. Talbot and Michaud exemplify this. By going through all of their troubles and accomplishments together throughout the play, they were able to find themselves and move on from their troubled lives. Talbot finally became a priest while receiving consolation in terms of his traumatic past and Michaud used his love of writing to report the atrocities of the local shoe factory as a journalist. Each achieved a step towards happiness and came closer to attaining their "Good Lives".
Cultural and Intellectual
The central issue of the play was, in my opinion, the evil and corruption that lurks behind the scenes within mankind. Because of the time period used in the play, the early 20th century, we were able to observe the underlying misdeeds of factories and the church. Child labor was an issue in this time period. Since factories only required unskilled workers and families needed money, owners could provide an extremely low wage which forced families to have their children work as well. Given the dangerous conditions of the factories with their machines and the ruthlessness of bosses in attaining all the money they could, it was commonplace for children to die at work, such as Leo during the climax of the play. The Boss cared not for the death of children within his factory. He only cared about money which displays the evil nature of mankind in one light. There were also despicable events happening within the church at the time. Talbot was raped by one of the priests as a child, and it was discovered that said priest had done this to a number of individuals for many years, including Brother Casgrain. Because of his holy position, he took advantage of people and was able to scar them emotionally and physically. Although a lot of evil was displayed throughout the play, compassion also shined through. We were able to see how Michaud was able to help Talbot through his difficult experience by searching for the truth about the priest, and was also able to help the children of the factory by reporting Leo's death. Sarah also displayed selflessness by forcing Michaud to acknowledge the darkness that people harbor so that he could move forward as a writer and journalist, tackling the issues of mankind and fixing the world one step at a time. I've always contemplated why the world harbors so many ill feelings and cruelness, but I believe that there are people that strive for good, strive for a better life, and strive for the Good Life for all. This play, although outlining the disdainful nature of humanity, reaffirmed my belief that mankind as a whole wants better for itself and will work towards a better future that displays compassion over cruelty.
The Divine provides us with an opportunity for catharsis by displaying the gross underbelly of humanity. We try to hide our misdeeds and act as if all is well while benefiting from the suffering of others. The first step in change is to acknowledge our faults and attempt to do better. Michaud does this by acknowledging his blissful ignorance as one from the upper class and striving to become a reporter who exposes the injustices of humanity. He's able to realize his own faults with the help of Talbot and Sarah and move on from being a priest with no direction. The Boss stated that although he may expose his factory, someone, somewhere would hire children and perpetuate the cycle of never ending suffering for their personal gain, but this doesn't stop Michaud. He believes that if no one does anything to point out the flaws of society, then the cycle will truly never break. If we start to point uncomfortable things out, we can change them and ourselves for the better. Sarah pointed out that the theater serves the same purpose and pushes for a revolution of positive change. Overall the play really exemplifies society's willingness to change, and shows how the future may be much brighter than the current darkness of the present, no matter how daunting it may be.