The Divine: a Play for Sarah Bernhardt Chris Schaefer

The Spatial Experience:

Interesting artwork outside of the Constans Theater
Interesting abstract sculpture of what's probably Uncle Sam

I was fortunate enough to be seated directly in the middle of the theater, only about 10 rows back. It made for an easy viewing experience and I was able to concentrate on the play the entire time. The theater itself is relatively small, about the size of a high school auditorium, so it made for a more close and intimate atmosphere than other, larger theaters. The set was extremely well designed, you could see it immediately from entering. It was very interesting the way they engineered the set, beds when flipped would be desks and every transition would be done in what felt like a minute or less. What was most interesting was the way the theater was designed: there was a horizontal walkway that cut through the audience, separating the mezzanine and orchestra seating sections. It was only used sparsely during the performance, but it added a unique aspect to the spatial experience.

The Social Experience:

My roommate, Stewart, liked to take pictures of everything he saw
My group of friends to see The Divine

I went to see The Divine as a group of 6, with my roommate and several friends. Being able to see this play in a relatively large group allowed for some sound discussion about our expectations of the play going in. It definitely made the play more enjoyable and turned it into more of a social experience, even though we couldn't talk during the performance. The more intense parts of the play sparked great discussions afterwards, and helped to further the understanding of the play. Shared experiences are definitely a big part of the Good Life, being able to partake in things like this with friends is a very wholesome experience, as it helps you to feel like you belong.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

A professional photo of The Divine

The performance addressed a variety of issues, many of which are still prevalent to this day, and all of them were very hard hitting issues. The main ones were child labor, poor factory conditions, religious censorship, and worst of all rape in the catholic church. The Divine did a fantastic job of showing off these issues firsthand, and delving into the complexity of how they affect people and their choices. For example, it didn't oversimplify the issue of Michaud's sexual assault, and had him struggle with the issue of either revealing his aggressor or being able to live a relatively normal life and put it all behind him. It was shocking to the audience when he chose not to turn in the priest that raped him, but it in turn displayed the true complexity of the issue. Similarly, child labor and brutal working conditions was a large issue during the time of the play. This is a topic we learned much about in high school, but being able to witness it in a play gave it a new setting. Leo's death was by far the most shocking part of the play, losing a character that seemed so fun and outgoing that you got attached to really puts that issue in perspective.

The Emotional Experience:

It would be an understatement to say that The Divine explores some controversial topics. Going in to the play, I had no idea that it would carry the weight that it did. The Divine's opportunity for katharsis was its forcing the audience (at the time) to look at these real, terrible events that were happening in society all around them, and to urge for a change. It approached topics crucial topics and forced the playgoers to introspect on their community.

A photo displaying poor factory conditions in Canada in the early 1900s.


Created with images by Desertrose7 - "stage performance concert stage"

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