The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt WRITTEN BY mICHEL mARC bOUCHARD

Introduction

Coming to Constans Theatre I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the performance. The only theatrical performance I had ever been to was a one done in high school, so I wasn't quite sure what the production quality or the level of enjoyment I would receive from it. Having sat through The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, I can say that a thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the play, from the set design, the production quality, the acting, and most importantly the complex messages that the play presented to the audience. I was entranced in the themes that the performance taught as well as how the play was written in such a way that it referenced itself as a part of the dialogue on the importance of the arts in society. The experience I had while watching The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt motivates me to want to watch more live plays.

The Spacial Experience

Seated in the 3rd row on the left side of the theater

When first arriving to Constans Theatre, there was no special experience, I entered through the entrance from the Rietz Union, a place I have been to many times before. As I first entered into the actual theater, the feeling was quite different, it became very obvious that this was not going to be like any high school play I had ever attended before. The production value, the attention to detail, the design of the set was top notch. Unfortunately because we were seated based on what order we entered the theater, I was placed against the wall on the left side, not the best place to be completely encapsulated in the performance. I was also very surprised that the size of the theater was much smaller than I had anticipated, this is something I enjoyed, I felt it gave the performance a more intimate experience, allowing the actors and actresses to engage more with the audience whether it was through walking through the rows or making eye contact with an audience member. While place is important for finding the Good Life, individuals must find their own place where they can discover the Good Life by finding what is important to them.

The Social Experience

Arriving at Constans Theatre in order to watch The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt

I attended the Good Life performance of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt by myself. I did this because I felt that the best way to fully indulge myself in the themes and messages of the play was to be alone and allow myself to focus solely on performance. Before the play, I read through information about The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt to understand the setting and the historical references within the play. In my opinion, I don't believe shared experiences are a method to reach the Good Life, but rather an affect after achieving the Good Life. Once one achieves the Good Life, they can better understand and interact socially with other people. As Brene Brown explains, connections are the key to life, but one can only experience connections when they are true to themselves.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Holding the pamphlet for the performance during intermission between acts 3 and 4.

Before seeing the performance, I had very good knowledge of early 20th century working conditions in industrializing societies, how child labor was so prominent, and how poor individuals were stuck within a constant perpetual cycle of poverty. The performance however allowed me to experience what ti feels like to have lived and worked in a society which treats its workers so poorly and so harshly. Coming out of the theater I had a much greater appreciation for the society that I have been able to grow up in, and the opportunities I have been given to make my life exactly what I want it to be. While the play explored numerous issues plaguing society in the early 20th century and today, I felt that the most prominent was the importance of the arts for social dialogue. Especially with the events which have been happening for the last year, the importance of the arts in bringing attention to societies problems is more prominent then ever. Through out the play a force of power (the church and the factory boss) use their authority to attempt to hide the problems with society. The play explores the importance of the theater (among other mediums) to expose society's flaws despite the force of power attempting to silence them. The subject matter made me think even deeper about the importance of standing up to authority and questioning whether that authority is still in place to affect good, or to silence the bad. There have been numerous experiences in my life in which I felt that it was best to stand up to authority in order to affect the change that I saw necessary. One such example occurred throughout high school within the Rocketry team I ended up leading. The Rocketry team was headed by a teacher who at every step attempted to stifle the ideas and innovations the team members came up with, by standing up to this authority we were able to have a new teacher head the program, allowing the creativity of the team members to flourish.

The Emotional Experience

The performance of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt was entirely about digging deep into the depths of societies problems and exploring the importance of speaking out in order to affect change. The performance explored the issues of poor labor conditions, moral and ethical obligations, and social oppression. Through the unique ability to interact with audiences that the theater has, the performance of The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt was able to show the audience a perspective that many have not been exposed to, creating a path to realize the inequities of society and proceed to find a solution to the problems which are most uncomfortable.

Leaving Constans Theatre after enjoying the remarkable performance of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

Photos by Order of Presentation

  • The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. 2016. University of Florida, Gainesville. Web. <The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt>
  • Factory. 2012. Pnettheatre, Ann Arbor. Web. <https://pnettheatre.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/factory.jpg>
  • Divine. 2015. James Strecker, Toronto. Web. <http://jamesstrecker.com/words/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Divine_0250_DC.jpg>
  • Divine. 2015. James Karas, Toronto. Web. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5aQ_HrlQ704/VcFEjv1zu0I/AAAAAAAADMI/1atH0uwnNP8/s1600/Divine%2B-%2B2015%2BShaw_1418_DC.jpg>
Created By
Chad Wishner
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