The Divine: A Spark Story Maddie Meltz
My name is Madison Meltz and I am a freshman at the University of Florida. On January 26th, I saw the play The Divine. The Divine followed the life of Talbolt and his quest to become a priest. With a dynamic, somber tone the play exposed several societal ills such as poor working conditions for the lower class, oppression by the Church in the early 1900s, child abuse, and sexual abuse.
Background photo: LoggaWiggler. "Ulm Cathedral Building Church." Pixabay.
The Spatial Experience
When I first walked into the theater, I was surprised by how beautiful it was. I was taken aback by the high ceiling, the lines of red seats, and grand set onstage. I had no idea such a wonderful theater was located in the Reitz Union! The night I saw the show, the theater was quite crowded. I managed to get a seat towards the top left of the theater. Though I had a full view of the stage, I had trouble seeing subtle expression changes or character interactions. However, I could hear perfectly fine and was able to keep up with the plot with little difficulty. When the lights of the theater dimmed and the show was about to begin, I felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I was excited to see the story the actors were going to tell (excitement), but I also heard the show was rather long and dry (apprehension). However, I was in all sincerity pleasantly surprised with the work.
The importance of place in the Good Life is simply a great setting makes a wonderful experience even better. Watching a play in a beautiful theater (in lieu of perhaps a busy train station) enhances the experience. The theater cuts out any distractions and fully immerses the audience in the show.
The Social Experience
I attended The Divine with a few friends from an acting class I took last semester. In order to prepare for the performance, we all dressed nicely and went out to dinner in order to have the necessary stamina to enjoy a two and a half hour performance. Attending the performance with my friends made it a much more enjoyable experience. During the performance, I had people to react with and ask for clarification from. I could hypothesize with my friends about what would happen in the second half during intermission, and collectively gasp with them during the frequent plot twists presented in the second half.
Shared experiences add to the "Good Life" by creating deeper connections between people. Having shared experiences brings people closer together in the sense that they provide a possible talking point and (in most cases when the common activity is not required by a class) reveal a similar interest between people. For example, if I went to the play of my own accord and so did everyone else in the theater, we would bond over our shared love of performing art and over the shared experience of watching the play. The deeper connections created by these shared experiences create friendships and bonds that are important to the "Good Life."
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
The central issue discussed in The Divine was the corruption within and the oppression caused by the Church in the 1800s. I knew very little about this subject matter before attending the performance. I am not particularly well read in either 1800s history or the Christian faith. The Divine gave me a better understanding of the societal issues in the 1800s and the complex relationship between the Church and state in that time frame. The performance did not so much change my views on issues like child labor, sexual abuse, and artistic oppression as much as amplify the importance of finding permanent solutions to these problems that still plague our society today.
The Emotional Experience
The Divine allows for katharsis by addressing problems that are too "explicit" to be mentioned in public. Most of the public is generally aware of the pertinence of sexual abuse and poverty in our society, but these issues fail to be addressed because people simply do not want to talk about them. Those issues are "dirty," unpleasant, and seemingly inappropriate. However, The Divine allows the audience to finally address and discuss the issues hiding in the shadows by bringing them to the forefront. The audience can finally "come clean" and start conversation about what society deems too "unsanitary" to speak about.