The Spatial Experience
Upon entering the theatre, I was greeted with the familiar feeling of excitement and curiosity that often strikes me before a performance, the first day of class, or even the car ride to the airport before a vacation. The unexpected awaits you, and your imagination about the near future can produce virtually anything. Our expectations often prove surprisingly different from what actually happens, thus the time before the show has its own magical quality to it. As my friends and I met up with some mutual friends, we picked our seats in the middle of the theater and chatted about the assignment associated with the project. I was uncharacteristically early, and was delighted to have a seat exactly in the center, providing me with the same view I would see if I was watching this play on TV. I noticed the theatre was rather small and intimate, perhaps connecting the audience with the actors in a personal way. Once the lights dimmed, I was entranced in the performance. I watched without interruption and stayed until the end.
The Social Experience
I attended the play with two of my good friends, Marina and Jazlyn (left and center). We got ready and drove to the performance together. We read some synopses of the play that we had found online and went over our assignment so we would know what to pay attention to during the experience. I liked that I got to share this experience with my friends, and had a really nice evening with them. The fact that all freshman at UF take the Good Life course provides a genuine bonding experience for us. We automatically have something in common and something to talk about. In a lot of ways, the Good Life experiences actually help to unite us as a class and a campus.
The Culture and Intellectual Experience
I did not know much about the context of this play before viewing it. Growing up in the states, we hardly pay attention to the social issues of other countries from over a century ago. Issues surrounding this play included the idealization of celebrities, the effects of poverty, and the search for a better life. However, I think the phrase "seeking the good life" embodies the central issue of the play best, as well as follows our weekly modules well. The central character was seeking a better life for his family, but his only means of doing that were to make himself absolutely miserable. This concept is counter-productive in nature, as it effectively results in a worse life, but maybe with more money. This definitely relates well to the lives of me and all of my friends. A disproportionately large portion of the freshman I have met at UF have been pre-med, but not out of passion for medicine as much as for the presumed money and security that comes with being a doctor. Doing a job that will make them miserable, like the protagonist being a priest, will not truly lead to the good life.
The Emotional Experience
"The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" provides audiences with an opportunity for katharsis, or coming clean, by including certain dark subject matter that powerfully resonates with audiences. After the total rejection of his mother and the tragic death of his brother, Talbot finds himself in an extremely dark place. When the nature of his horrible temper and moodiness is revealed to have stemmed from a sexual assault at his old seminary, audiences are left in shock. We realize that horrible things can happen to us, and with intense mental strength, we have the ability to judge the degree to which those things affect our core selves. This realization is dark in some ways, yet oddly hopeful. Audiences leave the play feeling refreshed, maybe less guilty, and prepared to face our darknesses.