“Gem of the Ocean” an Experiencial Review by Carolyn Koch

After realizing the deadline to my entrepreneurship project was rapidly approaching I “googled” the Zoellner Arts Center to see what was going on this week. I saw “Gem of the Ocean” fit nicely into my schedule on Wedneday night.

After I ate an early dinner at Lehigh’s Upper Court with my sister, I went to the library to get a couple extra minutes of work in before the performance.  While packing up in the library I tried to convince some of my friends to come with me to see “Gem of the Ocean” but to no avail. So I left the library by myself and headed off to Zoellner. The time was around 7:05pm as I was walked down Packer Ave at this strange time of day. I am familiar with Zoellner as a lot of my immediate friends participate in the arts, so I knew where to go when I got there. I made my way to the ticket window and got my ticket. It was the “pay what you will” performance but I felt guilty when the girl in front of me paid the student ticket price of $5 so I wound up doing the same thing.  After purchasing my ticket I headed over to the Diamond Theater.


When I walked into the theater I had zero idea what to expect. I hadn’t done any research on the play and had no idea what it was about. Being one of the first few people there I found a seat, sat down and took it all in. I heard the sound of a rocking chair and eventually noticed the person sitting in the top right corner. I used to do stage design in high school so I was really in awe of the scene in front of me. I was even more impressed by how the actors used the space during the performance.


As students, professors and people started filing into the theater it became very loud with an excitement of what was to come.

“Do you know what this is about?”

“Hey! I’m so glad you made it!”

“Which class are you here for?”

As conversations swirled around me, I felt a little awkward as I had come alone and was still sitting by myself at this point. By the time I spotted someone I knew the show was about to start and everyone was scrambling for a seat. The lights flickered, everyone got quite and the show began.

The first half of the show was great! There were moments where the theater was cringing from embarrassment and then in the next moment laughing at the characters on stage. I love performances for this reason in particular – you have the opportunity to experience with other people even if you go alone. Like I had mentioned before I had come alone and felt weird about it, but in these moments we were all together experiencing the same thing. I became more at ease. During intermission I had some conversations with people I had never met before and got to see how they interpreted what we all had just watched.

As people were getting the “unnaturally yellow” popcorn (the women who was selling it described it as such) I looked at my clock and realized I was going to be late for a meeting if I had stayed for the second half. I did not realize how long the show was, or how long it was going to be. I had checked the Zoellner website to check when it was starting but there was no run time anywhere to be found.  Feeling torn I had to leave.

My experience with the Arts on Lehigh’s campus has always been a matter of figuring out how to fit it into my schedule, being an engineering student and an athlete seeing performances was never my top priority unless my friends were in it. The funny thing was, I knew a lot more people in this performance than I thought.  I wish I could have seen the end of it, which is why I’ll be going back this weekend to see it again – this time knowing the full time commitment.