Good Life Performance David Summa

Before attending The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, I had no idea what to expect. The play was Canadian, and this was its first debut in the United States. However, I was never really interested in plays, since the only plays I watched were from school, and I only really enjoyed them because of the time they took away from the class schedule. My bleak outlook on plays in general has changed after seeing this play, since I realized the potential of plays to address issues of injustice.

The Spatial Experience

When I arrived at the Constans Theatre, I saw many people, most of whom were Good Life students, converging upon the Theatre to enjoy the show. At first I was taken by surprise, transitioning from the tired scenery of the Reitz Union food court to wide open spaces of the Constans Theatre. As I walked into the Theatre, I tried to sit near the front by the edge of the available seating. I feel that this is the best way to find seating, since I feel that it brings you closer to the story by being close to the stage. As the lights dimmed, I felt a great sense of anticipation and excitement. The size of the auditorium helped build this anticipation: it indicated that what I was about to see is grand, something I would experience with others. I believe it is important to have a sense of place on the journey to attain the Good Life, since places, such as the Constans Theatre, often give us the sense that we are closer to the Good Life.

The Social Experience

Although I reserved a ticket for the play two weeks prior, the preparation I did to see the play was limited to the hour before it started, due to the combined homework load of Thermodynamics, Mechanics of Materials, and a Fluid Dynamics simulation I happened to be running. However, due to the proximity of the Reitz Union to my dorm, I arrived at the Theatre with plenty of time to spare, and I even met up with my friend and former roommate, Collin Hamilton. We had plenty of time to socialize, wondering what we could expect from the play. Attending the play with Collin enhanced my experience, since Collin is a social person, which allowed me to socialize with others more comfortably. I believe shared experiences, such as the going to the Theatre with Collin, are important to seeking the Good Life since the experience is enhanced.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

With respect to culture, this performance helped me understand a great deal. For instance, I knew that, during the Industrial Age, factory workers were routinely mistreated and exploited. However, seeing the conditions of a factory reenacted in a play helped me appreciate the turmoil and misfortune faced by the factory workers of the time. The play also helped me appreciate the power of the church at the time, and the ways the power was abused. For example, when the church demanded that people not attend the play with Sarah Bernhardt, half of the spots in the Theatre emptied. The issues brought up in the play helped me better understand them with respect to their own time.

The Emotional Experience

I realized, from watching this play, how effective Theatre is as a tool to show everyday acts of injustice to the world. It can serve as a way to present points that are socially uncomfortable or ideas that are considered radical in an artistic way. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt shows us injustices which parallel those of our time. The injustices presented in the play allowed me to reflect on the injustices happening around me on a daily basis. This allowed me to "come clean," and think about what it truly means to be happy.

Created By
David Summa

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