The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Victoria Campanale

The Spatial Experience

Performance Program

The theater doors opened promptly at 7:30 pm on a chilly Friday night. Emotions swept into the small room filling it with an odd feeling of excitement and disinterest. There was a clear distinction of those who truly wanted to be there and those who were anticipating their night at Midtown and desperately wanted to leave. I felt butterfly's in my stomach as I entered the theater. I hadn't been to a play in over eight years and it all seemed so incredibly new. The small theater was packed with hundreds of friends, strangers, and classmates all flipping through a white program. With the request to turn off our phones and hushed voices, the play was about to begin. There was tension in the room and silence right before the actors began to preform. As I sat in the lower right corner one of the performers popped out from the left side and slowly made her way toward me. She must've sensed my eagerness and said a few lines directed right toward me. This immediately sucked me into the performance. The performance transformed and immersed the audience and me into a new world with different plots, romances, and themes.

The Social Experience

"Peace Signs - Steve" (Received Written Permission)

On the night of the performance, I arrived an hour early at my best friends apartment and ate a warm homemade meal. We wobbled along in the cold to the Reitz which made 15 minute walk seem like an eternity. Standing in the middle of the lobby anxiously, my best friend and I sparked conversation with other freshmen. Steven an accounting major was one of the varies people that we acquainted. Being surrounded by other freshmen who had no idea where they were was a comforting feeling. In unison we all followed directions from whoever was in charge and marched toward the theater not knowing what would be around the corner. Following the directions to go as low as possible and fill up all the seats, I ended up having my best friend at my right and stranger to my left. I had two different experiences at each shoulder. The young man to my left was obviously uninterested and enjoyed having both armrests for himself. He obnoxiously talked to his friend during the performance about nonsense. On my other shoulder, my best friend and I were able to converse and make small comments regarding the play. We both were able to discuss what we enjoyed and what we disliked. I personally didn't like how it expressed Catholicism in a negative light. My non-christian best friend didn't mind. Sometimes it takes someone to show you a different perspective to guide you to other experiences and eventually the "good life".

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Waiting in line! (Received Written Permission)

The play was set in 1905 in Quebec City which highlighted a culture where young children worked 40 hour weeks in harsh working conditions. The central issues portrayed involved child labor abuse, Catholic power and corruption, and overall struggles of different social classes at the time. As a devote Catholic, I have always known of the few incidences of corruption in the Catholic church especially between priests and young boys. This play emphasized the negativity of the Catholic church and thus, had significance in my life. Although I personally didn’t enjoy how the play emphasized the sins of the Catholic Church, it did allow me to view other aspects that I once never considered. The play showed me how horribly young children were treated and worked in intensive conditions in this era. The lower class were forced to work under these circumstances while the higher class had many privileges. Families desperately in need of money sent their children to work so they could help support their family. Talbot the son of a factory women was sent to seminarian school in hope to make money for his family. This performance showed how easy it is to overlook the corruption of society in all aspects: religion, government, and the arts. After watching the performance, I have learned that we have to take a step back and assess what we consider the cultural norm and reflect whether or not it hinders individuals and society as a whole.

The Emotional Experience

Quick Picture! Almost inside! (Received Written Permission)

The play exposed many key issues that have occurred in the past. Talbot being forced into a sexual relation with a priest, harsh working conditions and injustice between economic classes. Although, it is difficult to process and accept these facts it’s a necessary deed. With “coming clean” there is also a sense of hope that society can see their flaws and mend them. There seems to always be someone or something that shakes society out of a trance of injustice. A recent person in history is Martin Luther King and his ability to expose the discrimination and hardship of African Americans. This play can be considered one of those catalysts due to its ability to allow humanity to open their eyes and realize the hard truths.

Photos Cited

All photos are self originals taken at the theater. Written consent was received from all individuals in the pictures.

Created By
Victoria Campanale

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