THE DIVINE: A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT EMILY CASE

THE SPATIAL EXPERIENCE

Walking into the Constans Theatre for The Divine was my first time doing so. I was immediately stunned by the simple yet beautiful hanging artwork, and spent a lot of time prior to the play looking at the hanging glass disks. Melis Balta and I had decided to go on a Sunday afternoon, so it was calming and peaceful to see the beautiful day outside through the massive glass windows. As showtime approached, all of the awaiting IUF1000-takers piled into lines to enter the theater. There was some interesting sculptures (pictured below) that everyone was taking pictures of while we waited. I found this humorous, because we all have the same assignment, and know everyone is attempting to take all the pictures they need. Our seats were on the row that sat directly on the level of the stage, which was definitely an interesting perspective. It felt as if we were part of the play, and made the characters seem more real, enhancing the experience.

These sculptures made me wonder where they were from, or who chose them, before seeing the play.

THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Melis Balta and I, excited to see the play beforehand.

Personally, I would have been miserable if I had attended this play on my own. I would have been more caught up in the lonely feeling of being surrounded by a sea of complete strangers than in the play itself. Thankfully, I went with my good friend Melis Balta, who is in my discussion class. We had a really great time, and being in seats that were stage-level made the play feel interactive and social in itself. I personally believe that genuine human connection is a huge pillar of achieving the good life, and this experience is an example of such. After the play, we walked home to our dorms together while discussing our likes and dislikes of the play.

THE CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE

Before watching the play, I didn't know too much about the subject. I knew it would be about an actress, but I had no idea that child labor, seminarians, and poverty would also be prevalent throughout the play. Hearing about child labor in history classes could in no way have prepared me for the emotional experience of witnessing a lifelike reenactment of them. Furthermore, the theme of social censorship reaffirmed my views on the subject. Specifically, her monologue about letting art shine at the end of the play greatly resonated with me. Though being in a STEM major, I learned that it is still important to recognize the beauty and worth of all forms of art. In addition, no matter one's opinion, it is important to let other's speak their opinion as well. This is exhibited in the play when the seminary sends a letter to Sarah forbidding her from performing in Quebec anymore. This causes a lot of tension. This idea, similar to free speech, is especially important to think about and recognize, especially in today's current events. Thus, though The Divine is set many years back, it is still relevant to our society, and we can learn from it.

The play book gave a lot of important information about the play's context, and aided a deeper understanding.

THE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE

I think that the most emotion-provoking moment of the play was by far the death of Talbot's little brother. Through out the play he is portrayed as a source of innocence and morality. He is known for his jokes and always lightens the mood of the grim setting in the shoe factory. When he dies from poisonous fumes, the audience was audibly shook. A quiet gasp and murmur from the crowd really enhanced the dismal mood that the actors in the play had already invoked, making the emotional experience that more intense. I found the overall tone of the play to be very sad, but sometimes, as upsetting as these things are, we need to push ourselves to experience them and learn from the things we witness. This is another big lesson that is relevant for everyone today, and one that I personally believe very passionately in. We cannot run away from important, heavy topics simply because we know they will make us feel bad, and The Divine makes that clear.

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