"The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" By: Akia Gabbidon

Me standing in front of a sculpture inside the Constans Theatre lobby.

The Spatial Experience

Entering the lobby, I felt anxious, curious and excited to be attending a play for the first time. Entering cold auditorium, I saw the setting and props placed upon the stage as I was sitting in the middle of the row in the center section. I felt that where I was seated made the experience much better than it would have been because I could experience the full effect of the play where nothing was blocking my view of the stage and I could see and feel the emotions of the characters acting. When the lights dimmed and the audience started to quiet down, I felt excitement for what was about to come because I had no preconceived notions about what the play was going to display. I felt that the size of the auditorium was appropriate for gaining a better experience of the play because the smaller auditorium allowed for a more intimate understanding. “The Good Life’s” role of place was, overall, allowing the audience to enjoy the play from where they were seated and the ambiance provided.

Me standing near the Box Office in the Lobby of the Constans Theatre.

The Social Experience:

I attended the play alone and to prepare for the play, I made sure to take a nap so I did not fall asleep, and made sure to dress nicely but appropriately, wearing a long pants so I did not get cold, during the play. I felt that if I were to have went with my friends, during the play, I would have been distracted, focusing more on what my friends were doing rather than paying attention to what was going on during the play. I feel that “The Good Life’s” role in shared experiences is to be able to create memories that reflect joyful times where true happiness can be felt.

The play bill for the play, "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt".

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

The central issue addressed in the play was Sarah Bernhardt wanting to star in the play that Michaud was in the process of writing, where he shines a light on the tragedies and lies that occur in his classmate, Talbot’s, life. Before attending the performance, I had very little knowledge of who Sarah Bernhardt was or what she contributed to society. The performance only made my views about the issues in the play much stronger than before because through actually seeing the history being acted out, I felt more empathy for the characters and their struggles that they faced. I felt that the character, Talbot and his need to go experience desire and affection with Madeline at the opium house is reflected in my life through his need to be free one last time before he is committed to something for the rest of his life.

A portrait hanging in the lobby of the Constans Theatre.

The Emotional Experience:

“The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt” provides us an opportunity for “katharsis” through allowing the audience to see what happens when the truth is bottled up and only lies can be seen. The need to come clean is reflected in Talbot when he is forced to lie about being raped by a priest starting from a young age. He, instead of coming clean, lies about it to his family because his mother won’t listen to him, and the Grand Seminary refuses to be tainted with the idea of such an assault by one of their members of God. When Michaud speaks the truth of what goes on by creating a list of all those who were raped by the priest, the Brother Casgrain commits suicide because he could not deal with the shame he felt being a victim of such a crime and before fully committing to the Seminary, Talbot releases his pain through quenching his desire for Madeline and giving in to the opiates that sate his mind. Through seeing and empathizing with the pain that both Brother Casgrain and Talbot had to deal with, it allows me to realize that the pain I keep inside should be felt and expressed rather than tucked away because if I let it, I know that pain will consume me.

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