Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

The Spatial Experience: My initial reaction entering The Constans Theatre was overall excitement and a bit of apprehension. I was not aware that The Constans Theatre was so close to The Reitz Union and that I passed it almost every day on the way to my classes. The building itself is tucked away behind the main bus loop most students use as a means of transportation. The neon blue lighting on a familiar scene added a sense of curiosity and sparked my interest as to what was inside the building. When I entered the auditorium I was surprised to find that it was actually quite small and not as grandiose as I had imagined it to be. I sat in the third row and was relatively close to the stage. My seat location offered me a more interactive viewing of the play. Being so close to the stage allowed me to see the expressions and movements of the actors with clarity. I could literally see the sweat dripping from the brow of the priest. Additionally, the actors, especially Sarah Bernhardt, made it a priority to descend from the stage and saunter around the auditorium where the audience sat. This was made possible due to the cozy size of the auditorium. Often, I would have to turn my head to see her and the 'paparazzi' following her as she passed my seat. When the lights dimmed the atmosphere of the theatre changed. My neighbors were instantly quiet and the focus was on center stage. The sudden alteration in the atmosphere had an ominous feel to it because no one knew exactly what would happen next. At this moment in time everyone was completely immersed within the play. Place plays a vital role in The Good Life because different places make you feel unique things that are usually synonymous with where you are and past experiences. In each new place we go to we are met with new people and ideas. Where you are can also have a huge impact on how you act and respond in certain situations. We don't always get to choose where we end up, but adapting to and experiencing new places is all part of The Good Life.
The Social Experience: This was my first time in any sort of theatre. I had never even seen a play before and I did not know anyone when I walked into the theatre. I had to ask strangers to take pictures of me for my Adobe Spark Story, which was sort of awkward. When I sat down in my seat before the show started I did begin to speak with my seat neighbor. She was extremely kind and assisted me in grasping a better understanding of what to expect from watching a theatrical performance. To prepare for the play I actually wore clothes other than sweats, which is semi-rare for me, but the instructions said to dress in semi-formal attire. I am pleased to say that I did not show up to the theatre wearing my casual active wear. There was a certain level of prestige within The Constans Theatre and after observing how much time and effort went into making the play come alive from the "talk back" with the actors I can definitely say it was an event that deserved some additional preparation on my end as well. I also read the brief description about the play so that I wouldn't enter the theatre completely clueless as to what may transpire. I did not attend with friends, but I feel like my experience was enhanced in going alone. I went outside my comfort zone and engaged strangers in conversations about The Good Life and our assignment. I also made some new friends and found people to discuss my reaction to the play with at the end. The role of shared experiences is important in The Good Life because others can open our eyes to new and alternative perspectives we may have never even realized were an option. The more people you share experiences with, the more you are likely to learn from them. Shared experiences allow you to become a more open minded, well rounded individual.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The central issue addressed in the performance was how authoritative figures can abuse the power they have been granted. Before attending the performance I had known that throughout history many powerful men and women had used money, position, and influence to maintain status and keep the mass majority of people below them. I was also aware that in the early Catholic Church many men utilized their positions and status as a means for abusing young boys and children. The performance changed my viewpoint on the issues of oppression and abuse. I had always assumed that the minority were oppressed. However, throughout the performance I could see that in some cases the oppressed are not always the minority. In the play we could clearly see that in actuality most of the people were poor and oppressed and the minority consisted of the few elites we were introduced to. This subject matter strongly relates to modern day society where wealth is not equally distributed throughout the world. Here in America a growing disparity or gap between the rich and the poor can be seen as there is a 1 percent of elites and the majority of Americans fall far short of that 1 percent dream and many require government aid to survive. As a victim of poverty and abuse from authoritative figures in my own life I deeply related to the themes of the play. My favorite quote was when Mrs. Talbot said, "They think we choose to live this way!". This was a personal favorite of mine because nowadays people act as though the truly poor should never be enjoy themselves or even buy into simple pleasures, such as going to the movies. If they do buy into these simple desires they are met with animosity as if one movie ticket for their child could have paid for their rent or made up for the government subsidies they so desperately need. They are not seen as fellow citizens in need, but are instead mostly looked down upon as leaches draining government funds and tax dollars. They are expected to live miserably all the time until they can afford to get back on their feet.
The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides all of us with the opportunity to come clean with the modern-day times and issues of our society. Most us may not be working in slave like conditions anymore and the oppression may not be as apparent, but it is still largely present. The times may have changed, but unfortunately much of the harsh realities have not changed at all. Injustice is still very prominent in most societies around the world today. The powerful message and the pain exhibited by the actors on stage could be applied to multiple aspects of society today. All people are still not equal and I believe this play leads people to "come clean" or go through Katharsis because it points out the fact that most societies have never even come close to being idealistic playgrounds for freedom and equality. This play charges the audience to look injustice in the face, no matter how ugly, and examine how the same principals in the play are still very relevant in the struggles of many for the most basic human rights even today.
Just Another Day In The Good Life!
Created By
Tessa Copeland


Created with images by Tobias Lindman - "Skokloster Church"

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