Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Mario Abels

Sarony, Napoleon. Cabinet card image of French actress Sarah Bernhardt. Digital image. Harvard Theatre Collection, Hougton Library, Harvard University, 1981. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

The Spatial Experience

McC, Will. McGuire Pavilion at Constans Theater. 26 May 2009. Gainesville, FL. Digital image. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

The first thing that struck me as I entered the theater for the first time was the lighting. It seemed like there were hundred of lights overhead, all being manipulated to create precisely the effect that the artists wanted. The infrastructure itself was very clean and modern looking, which was quite a departure from the red brick style elsewhere on campus. The size of the auditorium created a transcendental sense that made me feel like I was entering another world, a world where the events on stage were real and happening right in front of me. I felt a collective rush of anticipation from the large crowd as the play started. I sat stage right approximately in the center. This allowed me to get an ever so slight peek backstage at some of the behind the scenes action. I believe that the role of place in the Good Life is to act as a canvas for us to create what we want from it. The stage was empty before the play, but whole characters and societies were brought to life before me. Likewise, our physical location is a groundwork from which we can create our experiences. Our surroundings can shape our experiences just as we shape ourselves.

The Social Experience

Abels, Mario. "Three Friends at the Theatre." 2017. JPG.

I attended the play with my girlfriend and my roommate. It made the experience much more enjoyable because we all were able to talk about our thoughts and predictions during the intermission and at the end of the play. We went to get food after and we were still talking about the impact it had on us several hours later. To get ready for the play we dressed up in business casual clothing and planned our night. The role of shared experiences in seeking the good life are to make connections with other people who can present new and novel ideas to you. Having different viewpoints is important in learning to empathize and care for one another.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Nadar, Paul. Portrait of actress Sarah Bernhardt. Circa 1878. Digital image. Google Images, Web. 4 Feb. 2017.

One of the central themes of the play was the idea that we as consumers don't pay enough attention to where our products come from and the true cost of those items. In this case, child labor was being used as cheap labor to make shoes. Working conditions were terrible, and many children would get injured or died. I had some vague idea of child labor being utilized to make cheap clothing overseas and then sold in the United States, but I had never really thought about the emotional toll that it took on the families of these children. The performance made me want to shop more conscientiously. I had always shopped at cheap clothing stores just so that I could save more money for myself, but I think spending an extra dollar or two more is worth it if it helps to mitigate the utilization of child labor.

The Emotional Experience

Nadar, Paul. Sarah Bernhardt. About 1864. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital image. 4 Feb. 2017.

This play gives us an opportunity for katharsis because we get the opportunity to see into a world that we would probably like to ignore, or one that we might not be used to seeing. We see the tribulations that Talbot's family has to endure just to put him through his course at the Grand Seminary. Talbot's mother and brother must work long hours in dangerous conditions at the shoe factory, where other children have died because of the machinery. These scenes might make people uncomfortable because nearly everyone buys cheap products while trying not to think about the true cost. The revelation that Talbot had been abused by someone in a place of high religious power may have also came off as uncomfortable because we generally view priests as holy and exemplary citizens who do only good.

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