The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Hadley Owen

You leave the well lit, art covered walls and head into a room with a stage, that has just enough light for people to find their seats. You sit down and get your first good glimpse of the stage and the set design; a room lined with beds, and a large beautiful stained glass window in the middle of it all. It is all breathtaking, and amazing to think that students were the ones to put this together. My seat, centered from left to right and front to back, made for perfect viewing of the play. I love plays, so when the lights dim and the voices in the audience quiet, I get a quick rush of adrenaline from excitement about the unknown that is to come. I felt that the smaller size of the theatre and the fact that the actors were not using microphones, made for a more personal production.

I attended the play with my roommate, and the fact that we were both excited to see the play made for a better experience. It is never fun to go somewhere with someone who does not share the same enthusiasm as you. This can be said for a good number of students within the audience. Many did not want to be there, and did not want to have to devote time to something that they did not care about. Dimmed cell phone screens could be seen once in a while throughout the crowd. Before the performance, I read a just enough about the play and about Sarah Bernhardt to understand the context, but not enough to have any of the play spoiled. Because I attended the play with my roommate I felt more comfortable expressing my genuine reactions to things. I think that because I shared this experience with a friend, I had a greater experience than if I had gone alone. Also through sharing this experience, I feel that we were able to grow closer.

I feel that The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt touched on so many different aspects and problems within society that it is hard to claim one as being more important than the others. Although, I would say that the central idea is sexual assault and the aftermath of it. Towards the end of the play we learn that the main character, Talbot, as well as many others, has been repeatedly molested by the priest at another church. Along with this, the audience was exposed to themes like the horrors of child labor, the controversy of the arts and theatre, and the fallibility of the Church. Before seeing the play I knew very little about the subject matter at hand. After watching it though, I felt more knowledgable, and understanding of the strife that was endured by many; from dealing with the emotions post-sexual assault, to needing your children to risk, or give, their lives so that they could work and earn money.

Throughout The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt, there are many small humorous moments that act as a good place for catharsis. This emotional release helps to lighten the play and make it seem not as heavy. Along with this, the play serves as catharsis for the problems of the world. By putting all these heavy things, that nobody likes talking about, on display, it helps to lighten the idea of them, make them easier to talk about and it helps society to work on finding the solution. It also gives us a view of how all these problems could look like, if they were to be played out.

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Hadley Owen

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