The Spatial Experience: Upon entering the auditorium, I was surprised by how grand it was. There seemed to be so many seats, and the stage was set up very professionally. I appreciated the efforts that went in to the scenery. I sat in the middle/right, about halfway between the stage and the back of the room. While I wasn't able to make out the details of all of the characters' facial expressions, I especially appreciated the emotion in their words and movements. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I no longer felt as if I was doing an assignment. Everyone seemed to be enchanted by the theater's presence and what would soon be happening on stage. The size of the auditorium augmented this enchantment, as it enabled more people to feel it together. In the Good Life, the spatial experience plays a crucial part in our appreciation for the accompanying events. For example, the isolation of the auditorium from the rest of campus worked to enhance the audience's experience of the events that occurred on stage.
The Social Experience: I attended the play on my own, but was pleasantly surprised by the strangers next to me, who seemed very friendly and talkative before the play began. To get ready for the performance, I dressed nicely, and did my hair and makeup. Talking to the strangers before and after the performance, sharing our opinions, exposed each of us to a different interpretation of the play. The role of shared experiences in the Good Life is to create bonds between those who share them. By sharing experiences, we feel more connected to those around us and begin to get a better sense of the Good Life.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: Before attending the performance, I had no prior knowledge of what I was about to see. The play is set in the early 1900's and quickly establishes the theme of class with the introduction of the privileged Michaud and the disadvantaged Talbot and his mother. Throughout the play, we also see a theme of gender inequality, as the majority of the factory workers are women, making shoes. Bernhardt is the exception to this. I am aware that the class gap had been a major problem worldwide for many years, and in some ways still exists today, alongside gender inequality. What we experience today, however, is miniscule in comparison to the portrayal of the issues within the play. I can draw small comparisons between the gender inequalities of then and now. However, for the most part, being exposed to this play and the underlying societal issues that were a piece of it has given me a renewed appreciation for the privileged nation I live in. Despite political and social discord, we as Americans are still able to live with more freedom and liberty than those in the rest of the world.
The Emotional Experience: The performance gives us an opportunity for katharsis by modeling it within the storyline. Michaud's character comes clean very often throughout the play, and seems to never be afraid to speak what is on his mind - especially while interacting with Bernhardt. Bernhardt herself models katharsis throughout the play. As a minority (wealthy woman) she is first known for being a woman who speaks the unspeakable. Throughout the play, she learns not only the consequences of everything she says, but also how the other half lives, and "who makes the shoe." In response to the play, the audience members are implicitly encouraged to undergo katharsis, thinking about what it means to be a human and to be happy.