The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: Taliah Rodriguez

The Spatial Experience

The outside of the theatre
A sign inside the lobby
A sculpture inside the lobby

As we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the theatre, the pictures I've included were outside. The lobby was really interesting, as there were many signs and sculptures to look at. When I entered the auditorium and looked at the stage, I immediately felt like I was in 1905. The set had a way of transporting the audience to the time period. My seat was located in the upper right corner, but I could still see the stage well. The audience was structured to where any seat in the house could have a good view of the stage. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I felt ready to immerse myself in another world. It was almost as if I was leaving the real world for a second and putting myself into a fictional one. The auditorium was large in size and was able to fit a lot of people. The fact that the auditorium could fit more people created a larger audience and added to the experience in that there were more laughs and more gasps heard during certain scenes. It was a more immersive experience being able to hear everyone else having the same reaction that I was having. Place is important in the Good Life because it creates a set where different experiences will occur. In many fond memories, people are able to recall the place and their surroundings in which those memories occurred vividly. We are very visible creatures, as human beings, and place always has an effect on our everyday lives.

The Social Experience

Posing with my boyfriend in the lobby of Constans Theatre (He consented to the use of this picture)

I attended the performance with my boyfriend Nigel. To get ready for the performance, I made sure to dress nice and eat something before attending, as I knew the show would be long. Going with my boyfriend enhanced my experience because we were able to talk about the show together afterwards. We went through the same immersive experience and were able to share our different thoughts and opinions on that experience. Shared experiences are important to the Good Life because many people may go through the same experiences but have different thoughts on them. It's the discussion of different thoughts and opinions and acceptance of them that makes society so diverse and interesting. Shared experiences are also important because they help people to make bonds with each other. People tend to bond after going through something together, and relationships are an important part of the Good Life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The program for the show

The play took place in 1905 in Canada. I'm not sure if there was one central issue in the play, as many were addressed. Some of the issues addressed were the conflict between church and theatre, working conditions during the Industrial Revolution, child labor laws, poverty, and sexual harassment. Before attending the performance, I only knew that Sarah Bernhardt was an actress. I didn't realize that the play would be about so much more than just the life of Sarah Bernhardt. I had previously known about the working conditions during the Industrial Revolution, but the play helped me to realize just how gruesome the conditions really were. When I heard that two young girls were beheaded in the factory, it really opened my eyes to how unsafe and unjust that time period was. The play also made me think about the conflict between theatre and church. Previously, I hadn't known much about conflicts between the two. When I saw how the church was trying to ban Bernhardt from performing, I realized just how far both church and theatre have come from those times. I'm glad that in most cases, both can exist separately and peacefully. In my own life, I've had part time jobs at places such as Cold Stone Creamery and McDonald's. I would always feel mistreated when I had to work overtime or was understaffed on a busy day. This play helped me to realize that my problems at work were minuscule compared to the problems at work during the Industrial Revolution. Although my issues were still valid, they felt a bit trivial when I compared them to the past.

The Emotional Experience

Posing in the lobby after the performance

I chose this picture for the emotional experience portion because it was taken after the play finished, and I'm not sure if one could tell, but my eyes had been filled with tears. I'm the type of person to start sobbing when a commercial about puppies comes on, but this play really gave me a sense of catharsis. When witnessing the struggles of the characters in the play, it was nice to cry and feel a sense of release, as the play allowed me to feel what the characters were feeling in that moment. Many can use that release as a de-stressing technique for one's own life. For me, that sense of catharsis helps me to worry less about my own issues. I think the moment where I felt most emotionally vulnerable was when Talbot revealed the story of his rape and abuse by an older priest. The actor did a really amazing job of showing Talbot coming clean emotionally, and witnessing that made me cry and release emotion as well. Art is meant to make us feel something, and I think that's why we love it so much. During our busy day-to-day lives, being able to stop and be emotionally engaged in something for a period of time is truly cherished. I was emotionally invested in The Divine, and although it has a sort of sad ending, I was glad that the play made me feel sad and helped me to release that emotion.

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