The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Jeni swenson, IUF1000 spring 2017

Spatial Experience

As I entered the building, the professional environment and artwork hanging on the wall gave the impending performance a more legitimized feeling for me. Entering the Auditorium, the bustling around and chatter and dim lighting made me feel excited for the performance. This feeling heightened once the lights dimmed and the audience quieted. The size of the auditorium was a very comfortable and appropriate size, making it feasible and effective for the cast to walk in the aisles from time to time throughout the performance. I believe place has a large role in how we perceive various situations and contributes significantly to whether we interpret an experience as a positive or negative one. Such as, if a room is too small, the audience could feel suffocated or too disconnected from the on stage action if the room is too large.
Here is a photo that represents how excited I was to see this play. I could not keep the camera still as I was so exhilarated to witness this dramatic masterpiece.

The Social Experience

I attended the performance with a couple friends. To get ready, I made sure to know what photos I needed to take for this assignment as well as ascertaining that I had my gator 1 card. Attending the performance with friends opened me up to multiple perspectives on what was happening in the play. During the intermission and after the performance, we discussed the meaning of major plot points and expressed what each of us took from the certain scene. Shared experiences play a major role in the good life. I am a big believer that it is not about where you go or what you do, but who you're with.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The performance helped me see such issues as religion, abuse of authority, sexual assault, and child labor in a different light and how such issues were prevalent in that time period. A central issue explored in the play is the role and corruption of the church, as well as working conditions in Quebec around 100 years ago. Before coming to the play, I did not know a lot about 20th century Quebec. I learned that many people used to have their children work in factories and that the working conditions used to be deplorable and hazardous. These issues do not have a lot of relevance in my own life, but in situations that I have heard of from friends and family.

The Emotional Experience

This play provides katharsis for those struggling with issues relating to ones explored in the play. For example, the struggle of following what your heart desires and your mind yearns for versus what is expected of you. Michaud's struggle with wanting to become a playwright but training to become a priest could be found as relatable to many. Also, the issue of sexual assault is something that is still, unfortunately, an issue in our world. The emotions exhibited on stage by Talbot could hit home for those who have experienced similar awful experiences. This could also provide self reflection for those who have, in some form, abused an authority position, as the priest at Talbot's previous school had.

Here is a photo of me exiting the Constans theatre, mind running wild with the dramatic art I had just experienced.


image on introduction page, via Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts

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