Good Life Performance- The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Shea Hogan

The Spatial Experience: I was very excited to first enter the theatre, not just because I have always been a fan of seeing live performances, but because I love the feel of the live set, the dark lights, and the excitement I feel for the performers that are about to emerge on stage. When I arrived, the first 15 rows or so had already been taken by students, so my friends and I were directed to seats that were about 16 rows up and almost directly in the middle of the stage. As the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I found myself anxious to already be immersed in the play, eager to know the plot and the characters already. I would've loved to be closer, maybe the third or fourth row, but I still had a great experience in my seat as nothing was masked or hidden from my view and the sounds from the stage were projected very well by speakers disbursed throughout the theatre. This being said, the theatre being fairly big did not disrupt my experience in the slightest since the producers of this play built the stage and the auditory sounds around a large audience. Therefore, I believe the role of place in "The Good Life" is whatever you make it out to be. I could've been annoyed with my higher up seats, but I decided that, overall, it would not play a large role in the way the play was depicted. I knew I had equal chance of enjoying the play as my classmates in the first row did. It is all about your point of view and keeping a positive mind.

My seat in the Constans Theatre. Citation - Hogan, Shea. Constans Theatre Photos. 2017. Constans Theatre, Reitz Union, Gainesville. Photo taken by Alee Moore, courtesy of The Constans Theatre.

The Social Experience: I attended the performance with my roommate and one of my friends from high school. The three of us met at the Reitz and located the Constans Theatre together. Before finding the Reitz union, we read a little background of the play on the internet to get a brief understanding of the plot so we were not faced with confusion when the play started. Attending the play with my friends, rather than solely alone, definitely enhanced my experience as I was able to discuss with them their feelings toward the performance during the intermission and immediately after the play was over. I was also able to open my eyes to their point of views on the underlying topics covered in the play, for example, woman's rights, and compare them to my own. I believe that in The Good Life, there must be some form of shared experiences in order to achieve enlightenment. I know to an extent, some things must be left to do by oneself, but for the most part, experiencing certain events and activities with people that one enjoys can add to one's all around contentless and comfortability in that specific situation.

Myself standing at the entrance of The Constans Theatre. Citation - Hogan, Shea. Constans Theatre Photos. 2017. Constans Theatre, Reitz Union, Gainesville. Photo taken by Amanda Rosenberg, courtesy of The Constans Theatre.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: Although this play is set in the 1900's, a time when gender equality had not yet progressed to where it has today, this play is still of great importance as some of the issues presented in it are still relevant to today's society. The central focus of this play was to highlight the importance of being able to speak out and have a voice where it is thought otherwise. The main character, Sarah Bernhardt, was the first ever acclaimed French actress, a position that did not come easily as shown throughout the play. This character exhibits strength, bravery, determination, and confidence as she represents women as whole. This relates to one of today's major issues being that as much as our society attempts to think it, women are still not equal with men. This can be seen in almost every aspect of news that the media shows today. From Donald Trump, rather than Hilary Clinton, becoming president in 2017 to the Women's March in D.C. this past month to the nationwide movements taking place in order to protest the inequality that people see within our society. Don't get me wrong, however, I still believe we have truly come a long way since the time of this play. Women today have successful careers, while being amazing mothers, and having almost the same access to opportunities as men. This could not have been at all possible without women like the one we see in this play as she believed her voice could make a difference, and it had, in fact, done just that. Seeing this performance in person made me only feel deeper for the problems that it addressed. The actors' and actresses' vigor and energy toward such a topic allowed for the audience to feel with them, despite the gender of the person watching.

I am not exactly sure what these props set outside the theatre were supposed to depict, but it reminded me of this past presidential election and the issues regarding woman's rights that came from it. Citation - Hogan, Shea. Constans Theatre Photos. 2017. Constans Theatre, Reitz Union, Gainesville. All photos taken by Shea Hogan, courtesy of The Constans Theatre.

The Emotional Experience: This play allows the audience the opportunity for Katharsis as it stimulates the minds of those watching and unconsciously makes them think about the issue being presented while at the same time, giving them a look at both sides of the argument at hand. I think each person in the audience, at some point, realizes that the actors and actresses are just ordinary people like themselves, causing them to dissociate themselves from the play for a second and becoming more in touch with the issues in reality that are hidden in the play. It gives them a chance to reflect on the person they are in response to the characters on stage, which allows them to choose which side of the issue they find themselves most attracted to. For example, I found myself "coming clean" by realizing that there are very serious issues in our society today regarding the rights of women, and that I can play a role in making a difference if I, like the main character, show bravery and determination in my endeavors throughout the future.

I also did not have a chance to ask one of the workers what the relevance of this prop was, but I was reminded of all of the inventions and contributions that women have made throughout history. This idea was only reinforced after watching the play, so I couldn't imagine this prop being meant for anything else. Citation -Hogan, Shea. Constans Theatre Photos. 2017. Constans Theatre, Reitz Union, Gainesville. All photos taken by Shea Hogan, courtesy of The Constans Theatre.

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