The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Cameron Reagan

The Spatial Experience

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The building was buzzing with excitement, as we all prepared to watch the play. The outside area was filled with different statues, which were cool to look at as we waited to get inside. Many of us had no idea what to expect so we were all looking around once we entered the theatre, trying to take in the environment around us. We could see the props on stage, and we were trying to guess what was going to happen. Everyone got excited as we saw the snow begin to fall on stage. We were seated right in the middle of the row, which gave us a great view of the stage. The auditorium was mostly filled so there was a good energy. I think the role of the place or the environment plays a large role in the good life. The environment we grow up in shapes who were are and our perspectives. However, the place we are in can also shape isolated incidents. For example, being in the theatre, surrounded by people who are excited can make you excited too. If the people around you aren't excited, then maybe that will influence you to be less excited. The environment can shape how you feel. A place can trigger good or bad memories, or can make you feel a strong emotion (There is nothing like seeing fireworks at Disney World!)

The Social Experience

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I attended the play with my roommate, my friend and my friends roommate. We all met up and walked to Constans Theatre together. To prepare for the play, we read over the instructions for this assignment. None of us had heard anything about the play, so we all went in with open minds and no expectations. Sharing this experience with my friends made the experience more enjoyable because we were able to discuss this shared experience and what we thought about it. One of the nice things about this class is that it is one class that everyone has had to take. Therefore, we all have this one commonality we can relate on. There is something powerful in shared experiences and the different effects the experiences can have on people. We were able to discuss our opinions and thoughts on the play. We also were able to discuss the play with our friends who took the class before us. I think the overarching role of shared experiences in the good life is the ability to relate to people. People of all different shapes, sizes, colors, walks of life, etc. could have a life experience similar or relating to one you have had. There is a powerful connection between people who can relate about a similar experience.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

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One of the central issues in the play was regarding a man taking advantage of one of Talbot and how he coped with it. His life was severely affected by this, and thus brought about his internal conflict about saying the truth or accepting other people's judgements. Another main theme was about the realities of poverty and the average factory worker. It also contrasted religion, which was viewed as moral, with the arts, which was viewed as immoral. This last point was quite interesting as the man who took advantage of the main character was a church man, while Sarah Bernhardt, who represented the arts, wanted to start a dialogue about this harsh reality. The play highlighted a lot of social issues, many of which people feel uncomfortable talking about. However, these issues are very much real, and therefore it is imperative that we talk about them and bring awareness to them. I did not know that this particular play discussed this subject matter, however have watched and read things relating to these topics before. I think this play made a lot of interesting points and truly made me think after viewing it. For example, power was a large theme in this play, as Talbot could not come forward and disclose what happened because the man was more powerful and wealthy than Talbot. Poverty and socio-economics played a large role in this play which correlates with power, and it made me quite sad the way that the events played out. However, I think it is probably a realistic depiction of poverty in our culture. I think it is sad that people value power more than helping people, which is something that can be seen today in our politics and economics. Overall, I think this play was very relevant and the themes can be applied to today's world.

The Emotional Experience

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The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt definitely highlights some of the sadder and more controversial areas of our culture and society. I think it brings up points that people want to ignore or pretend don't exist. In my opinion this is, although unhealthy and unrealistic, a coping mechanism. It is hard to believe that humans can be so disgusting and insensitive to other human beings. I think conversation and education help people understand the importance of acknowledging that awful things happen, and how we can work together to prevent them from happening. The characters in the play have their own catharsis, where they are able to feel free from the heaviness of their pasts and move forward with a new outlook or appreciation. I think the play provides an opportunity for catharsis for the audience in that we can take away some of the messages in this play and relate it back to ourselves. For example, we can see from Talbot the importance of accepting people's help through support and compassion. Furthermore we can see the importance of dealing with our own emotions to help us move forward. Most importantly it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our society, and how we can make a difference in helping people through all different means.

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All images are mine, and I have permission from all of those included in the photos.

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