The Spatial Experience
Faupula, Olivia. "A photograph of myself outside of the Constans Theatre, Gainesville, FL." 2017. JPEG.
When entering the Constans Theatre auditorium, I was surprised to see how large the facility was. Rows upon rows of red seats filled up the majority of the space, leading down to a beautifully crafted black wooden stage. The theatre was dark, but warm white lights guided me down to the front of the stage, as well as a loud usher who told me which seat to sit in. Normally, I would prefer to sit dead center in the middle of a theatre because I do not like sitting too close to people, but this usher directed me to the end of the tightly packed 3rd row. I'm thankful, however, that she did this because where I sat completely enhanced my experience of watching The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. Every line was articulated loudly, clearly, and authoritatively. Emotional drives were evident and striking (I could actually see the tears well up in the eyes of one of the actor's). Where I sat allowed me to experience the performance in a 360 degree frame of view; a walkway in between the seats behind where I sat was used by the actors during the performance. Multiple times I had to circle around/turn my body towards the back of the theatre to watch the performers, creating a somewhat interactive experience with the play. The dimming of the lights created an abrupt silence throughout audience, and it's effect was exhilarating. For one brief moment I am curiously left to wonder "what's going to happen? What's next?"
The Social Experience
Although I did not bring along any friends to watch The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt with me, I did leave the theatre with a new friend. His name is Travis and he sat next to me during the performance. Travis recognized me from where I worked, recalled a brief conversation we had while I was cashing him out at my register, and asked how I did on the chemistry exam we had the night prior. Needless to say, I now have a new study-buddy for both CHM2045 and IUF1000. To prepare for the performance, I read the online program provided through canvas whereas Travis read the physical program given to us provided by the Constans Theatre. In the transitions between sets, I would quickly/quietly comment to my opinions, questions, and reactions to Travis about the play thus far and he kindly reciprocated. After the performance, Travis and I took pictures of each other inside the lobby, outside of the theatre, and then exchanged phone numbers. If I did not attend this play, on that day, in that seat, I probably wouldn't have become friends with him. Sharing any experience with someone, no matter how big or small, creates a significant bond between those two people.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
Faupula, Olivia. "A photograph of myself standing next to an untitled piece of art hanging inside of the Constans Theatre lobby, Gainesville, FL." 2017. JPEG.
A main theme throughout the entirety of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is the concept of moral and ethical obligations. One of the central issues addressed during the play is the ongoing raping of a young boy performed by a priest. Nowadays, many people are aware of this issue from watching the news on TV, reading the newspaper, and plenty of other social media outlets. However, during the setting in which this play was set (December 1905, Quebec City), not many people were aware of this issue. The The Church played more of an influential role in peoples lives than the media did back then, and was also one of the main sources feeding local newspaper journalists their information. The revealing of this deep, dark secret during the middle of the play struck me just as hard as it did the characters. I felt as if I had just learned about this topic for this first time. Before the performance, I was already aware of the issue of church figures taking advantage of young children, but did not know about the internal conflicts that the victim, the victim's extremely poor family, and blissfully ignorant friend had to deal with when deciding whether or not to testify. Gray areas of right and wrong cloud the decisions of every person involved, and what seems like a clear and obvious decision suddenly becomes not-so-clear. This performance made me realize that we have moral obligations for different people, and sometimes what's best for one cause leads to the suppression of another. Relevant to this theme is the recent political changes being made in the United States right now, causing many people to speak their opinions and rebel in their own ways.
The Emotional Experience
The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides us the opportunity to examine the moral and ethical decisions we have made thus far in life, as well as the ones we have yet to make in the future. For me, this performance gave me the opportunity to reflect upon my choices and civic duties as a citizen of the United States. The current political divide between this nation is a topic that I typically would not like to talk about, but this play forced me to dive head-first into the pool of injustices that overflowing within this country. Acknowledging our problems and coming clean is the first step in the long road to universal happiness.