Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt

The Spatial Experience

As I arrived to the Constans Theatre I did not have a strong opinion of the setting except seeing it from the outside passing through the Reitz Union or seeing a line in front of the theatre during Gator Nights. As I entered the lobby of the theatre I noticed the a picture with the words "Constans" on it. On the picture itself depicted actors in a play with a theatre stage in the background.

Taken outside of the Constans Theatre depicting actors and actresses from various plays

Once I entered the theatre the house lights were on and the stage lights were dimmed allowing you to see the set of the play. The size of the theatre was a perfect size for the production; not too big nor too small allowing everyone in the audience to gain the full experience of the production. My seat location was in an isle where actors and actresses were able to walk through the audience allowing myself and the rest of the people in the isle to see the characters in depth. This experience helped me immerse myself into the play and follow the plot easily. The role of place in the "good life" is the element of immersion. As in learning a language, being immersed in a society allows a person to experience cultures and the spoken tongue of a place. Being immersed in the arts allows a person to gain a full experience of values, cultures, emotions, and more. Understanding the good life cannot only be taught in a traditional lecture hall but in learning from experiences in the arts.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

When I started reading the context of the play and saw social issues like poverty, working conditions, and controversies within the church I could draw back to some of the concepts I learned about in previous years of education. I understood what working conditions and poverty was like during the Industrial Revolution Era from American History class. I also had some preexisting knowledge about the scandals dealing with the Church based on news in the 2000s. The production however, expanded on those issues and brought to life the emotions of members of society during those hard times.

Photo: https://lh4.ggpht.com/zpaZvwZi3cgmOBIc2av92f5f9HmgzEx-6OT2e-Wk_Tthausi9gkqrlAia5UvHRgg=h900

The experience of live theatre was able to expand and project a whole lot more on these problems than simply learning about them in textbooks and lessons.

What caught my attention on social issues was during the Talkback after the play had concluded, where the moderator showed a link between today's social issues and those of the past. For example, the idea of Feminism played a major role in the play in which Sarah Bernhardt was able to project her beliefs of equality using her social status. This can be correlated to the women's marches that occurred on January 21, 2016 where all kinds of people stood up to what they believed in to try and promote social change. Both of these events show that social change in society is a very daunting task, but with enough effort and support change can be a reality in society.

THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Prior to attending the play, I read over the assignment for this Spark Story to pay attention to all the details of the production. While in the theatre, before the house lights dimmed off, I read over the brochure to find background information on the play.

My friends and I planned on going to see the production together. Some of them were from Dr. Nichols class and some were from other professors. The presence of friends, I believe helps make an experience more enjoyable.

In addition to my friends, I was seated next to two intelligent and kind people. One of them told me she asses spark stories for What is the Good Life? and another said he helped write the study guide for "The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt". What caught my attention from the two was not their work on the course but their admiration for the production and theatre itself. A couple of times throughout the play I could hear one of them acknowledge a specific line or scene. This helped me stay more involved throughout the play and grasp the themes and context of the production.

Overall I believe that friends, family, and even strangers you meet gives you an outlet to share your emotions and feelings with. Without any of these people, you cannot truly enjoy life to make it "good".

Sculpture taken outside the Constans Theatre

The Emotional Experience

One of the play's main conflicts was the scandal with the church and the protagonist, Talbot. The heinous actions of the church spotlighted a problem that was occurring around the world at that time. The play "The Divine" allows for the emphasis on the emotions repressed by society and shown to the audience to the theatre. The focus on social issues that a play brings allows the audience to feel the emotions of those oppressed and negatively affected. For example, when the actors portrayed their emotions vividly during the scenes about Leo's death or Talbot's account of the Priest who abused him, I could feel the tension and struggle of the topic at hand. After the play concludes, the audience has a better understanding of these issues that helps to their katharsis.

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