Experiencing "The Divine" by Alexander Hoang


Picture 1: Jacob Hourihan (Left) and me (right) just inside the theater. To the south side of the main auditorium are colorful glass sculptures that can be seen in the background.

My good friend, Jacob, and I had reserved tickets for the play for the January 24th, 7:15 showing. He had arrived earlier than I had. About the play, I only knew what I had read from the Common Reading. The lobby was quite crowded and most people had arrived in groups of three or four. Group photos were being taken in front of the sign bearing the Constans Theater name.

The Spatial Experience:

Picture 2: Another Picture, this time taken in front of a sign.

We were prohibited from taking any photos of the set. We were one of the earlier people in the line, so we were able to sit quit close to the front, maybe some five rows back. We sat two rows behind a median, which meant that there was definitely no obstruction from the other audience members. The room was almost full, with a couple hundred viewers.

The auditorium reminded me of the Straz Center in my home town of Tampa. I very rarely watch plays, the last one being Mama Mia at least three years ago. In comparison, this play was much smaller, and the audience much, much younger. When the lights dimmed, I was trying to remember what the reading told me and I tried to pick out the characters.

Place often determines many factors that contribute to the good life. Proximity and comfort are all part of the good life.

The Social Experience:

Picture 3: Perfect time to present the written consent provided by Jacob for me to use his pictures. My phone battery died early on and I relied on him to send me his.

As I mentioned, I attended the play with only one other person: my friend Jacob. For unexpected reasons, he made my experience much better. That day, I had a class, after which I got dinner and came directly to the play, so there was no preparation. Being out so long, my phone was dying, but luckily I could rely on him to take pictures for the both of us and complete this assignment.

Other than being instrumental in my ability to complete the assignment, having a friend made the viewing experience better. Part of the enjoyment of watching a thoughtful play is discussing what is going on. Near the end, I shared a prediction that turned out to be right. If I was alone, I wouldn't have been able to share my thoughts, but doing so made the prediction feel more rewarding.

As social animals, humans depend on others for a lot. Experiences shape people's morals and values. Shared experiences can lead people to develop common values, making people who share those experiences more empathetic and favorable towards each other.

The cultural and intellectual experience

Picture of glasses: https://pixabay.com/en/glasses-reading-glasses-book-read-1078260/

The play puts a historical perspective on the liberal values of today's society. Sexual freedom and regulations on labor that we take for granted today were once topics of taboo. Before the viewing, I took from the common reading that poverty and labor were likely central topics of the play. However, the central theme of the play is timeless and echoes a moral choice tied to material goals. No snowflake feels responsible in an avalanche. But, like every action in a grand movement, the pieces eventually create the whole. In the setting of the play, the church is wrought with corruption, and Talbot is a victim of a powerful church leader hiding behind his post. A confession could bring about change in the church, but probably not for many years. The play shows how people who have the lives of others in their hands will go against their own moral fiber to protect the ones they love, like how Talbot suffer anything to bring his mother and brother out of poverty.

I honestly can't say that I have had any experience like those shown in the play. The performance did shed light on the circumstances of the laborer of the time though. Things that politicians and employers said at the time would seem horrifically dangerous today.

The emotional experience:

Picture 5: Leaving the theater

The play depicted the harsh, slow, and brutal reality of corruption and poverty. A mother loses her son to the industrial powers and her other son sacrifices his morals for his family. Other kinds of injustice happens every day in our world, and is often left uncorrected. But this play is set in the past, showing us horrors of the church and industry that we have been able to put behind us. History is being lived through now, and change can seem slow to happen. Although the play shows harsh realities of the past, the fact that we no longer experience what the characters experienced shows the progress of mankind, and gives hope for the future here on out. Looking into the past lets us experience catharsis in knowing that change does happen for the better.


Created with images by cocoparisienne - "glasses reading glasses book"

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