The Spatial Experience
As I entered the auditorium, I was interested by everything around me. Although I have attended theatre performances before, this was my first performance at UF and my first time in the Constans Theatre. I was immediately impressed by how professional everything in the theatre felt. I was seated in the middle section of the theatre, about halfway back. This allowed me to clearly see everything throughout the performance. I enjoyed being in the theatre early as it allowed me to take time looking at the room itself and especially at the current set that was onstage. As the lights began to dim, I felt excited to see the performance. The place in which you are can have a very prominent impact on the good life. It is natural to be affected by surroundings, and a place is a large component of physical surroundings. The professional nature of the theatre seemed to attract attention and respect from myself and the rest of the audience. The art outside of the theatre was interesting and engaged everyone. The set onstage allowed people to begin thinking about the performance before it began. All of this allows focus and engagement from the audience, allowing them to be open to gaining something from the performance which could lead them towards the good life.
The Social Experience
I attended the performance with my roommate. We went to the theatre together, and since neither of us had ever been before we were both new to the experience of the Constans theatre. Walking into the theatre, we were walking alongside many other students who were also coming to see the performance together. My roommate and I were able to sit next to each other and experience the performance together. Prior to the start of the experience, we were able to look around the theatre together and talk about our various expectations for the performance. During the intermission and after the performance ended, we were able to discuss our thoughts and reactions to the performance. We saw the same performance, on the same night, in seats directly next to each other. As a result, much of our experience at the theatre and during the performance was a shared experience. However, it was interesting to discuss the performance afterwards and find that different things stood out to each of us and we gained different things from the experience. This exemplifies the importance of shared experiences in the good life. As we all have different backgrounds and different values, we come to shared experiences with different perspectives. The experience of the performance itself allowed me to gain a lot of knowledge about the journey to the good life. However, I gained just as much, if not more, by comparing my point of view of it with that of my roommate. By engaging in experiences with other people and reflecting on them afterwards, we can gain valuable knowledge that we would not have otherwise.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
BeThroughout the performance, I felt as though there were many different central themes and issues that members of the audience could pick up on depending on their own perspective. I was drawn to the conflict of theatre and religion. Prior to the performance, I was aware of the conflicts that religion has with many things in society, such as science or politics. However, I had never given much thought to the interaction of theatre and religion. I found this conflict to be exemplified by many aspects of the performance, but it was especially evident in the roles of three central characters. Brother Casgrain demonstrated the way in which religion opposes works in the theatre, and a desire for religion to be given enough respect to control the theatre. This is evident in his attempt to keep Sarah Bernhardt from performing in their town. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Bernhardt fulfills the role of the theatre and its opposition to religion. Bernhardt has a carefree attitude and nature that parallels the expectations of people in the theatre, and this allows her to avoid a connection to organized religion. Michaud's role falls in the middle of these two. As a student at the seminary, Michaud shows focus and dedication to his religious affiliation and is even trying to pursue it as his career. At the same time, Michaud has an undeniable interest and affection for the theatre. Michaud's space in both worlds helps to bring the conflict to the forefront when he is tasked with coming to Bernhardt, seemingly one of his idols on behalf of the church to tell her not to perform. The performance gave me a new perspective to consider on both religion and theatre. While it does not completely mimic an aspect of my current life, it parallels the ways in which I often find two passions or interests that in the view of others are opposites.
The Emotional Experience
In my opinion, the moment of katharsis during any performance is dependent upon the individual audience member. In addition to the conflict of science and religion throughout the performance, I also found the role of poverty and social status of the various characters to be an important aspect of the performance. For me the moment of katharsis came at the point of the performance when it is discovered that Leo Talbot has died. Throughout the performance, it is clear that the Talbot family is living in poverty. This is clear in the interactions of Leo and his brother as well as Mrs. Talbot. It is made evident that many sacrifices are being made by Leo and his mother in order for Talbot himself to be able to attend the seminary. Leo's death shows the toll this sacrifice has taken on the family. Leo is a member of youth working in the factory for low wages in poor working conditions, exemplifying clearly the existence of poverty in the community. The death of Leo, while Sarah Bernhardt and others are in the factory, exemplifies the struggle of the lower class. I found this to be a moment of katharsis in the performance because it demonstrates the concept of being fully human. Additionally, in my opinion it is in the tragic death of Leo that the central characters of the performance realize the importance of their own humanity and their need to be happy and to fulfill ideals of the good life. This also does allow the audience to examine itself by provoking thought into inequalities of society and the impact of those inequalities.