The Divine Life The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

The inside of the Constans Theatre

The Spatial Experience

As soon as we walked into the theatre, my friends and I were immediately placed in the middle of the front row. This immediately allowed us to take in the atmosphere of the stage and the set placed in front of us. As soon as the lights dimmed and the audience became silent, the proximity of our seats to the stage aided in our immersion of the play as it was performed. In the front of the auditorium, the atmosphere was intimate as there were few rows and they were placed right by the stage. This also aided in our fixation on the play, as the closeness of the audience to the stage allowed us to further connect with the characters of the play. In the good life, the location provides a person with the resources they need to go on a quest, whether those resources are social, spiritual, or physical means. A rural area provides a different experience and opportunities than a sprawling city, and the location is an integral part of anyone's story through their journey to the good life.

Outside Constans Theatre with Sidney McFarland

The Social Experience

I attended the play with two other people, one pictured above. To get ready for the performance, we read reviews of the play online and reviewed the prompts for the spark story in order to frame our mindset. Before watching the performance, we read the playbill in order to further our understanding of what we would be viewing and give us a background for the performance. Attending the performance with friends allowed for a collective experience involving both intellectual and emotional means. We were able to share our ideas of the play during intermission and at the end of the performance. Although we all physically had the same experience watching the play, our own biases and opinions shaped our understanding of what we were viewing, and viewing the play with friends allowed us to compare and contrast our analyses of the play and what meanings we thought it held. Shared experiences ensure that open mindedness is maintained, as shared experiences allow for a plethora of different interpretations and attitudes to shape an experience multiple people share. This allows for comparison and a deeper level of understanding on the journey to the good life.

A depiction of a textile factory in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

This play took place in Quebec during the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a time of change in many aspects, including changes of thought concerning religion and social spheres. This play discusses many issues prominent at the time, including: child labor, corruption of the church, and poverty. The most prominent theme that tied together these issues was the discussion of censorship in the arts. The play made it clear that the arts allow people to view what is wrong with society in a manner that is comprehensible and enjoyable. Censorship of the arts takes away arts purpose of informing people and bringing light to what is usually held in the dark. The play allowed me to see what impact the theatre has in addressing social issues of the time and immortalizing them within a play. In a way, the matter of censorship is important today, as we are in a social environment where many social injustices are coming to light and many want these injustices to be censored. This play further emphasizes how social issues should not be ignored and should be portrayed through all means necessary.

The lobby outside the theatre

The Emotional Experience

The theatre provides a unique emotional experience. Actors portray relatable social situations, evoking specific emotions from the audience. This play provided a cathartic atmosphere with its addressing of the plethora of timeless social issues. Although the play took place during the industrial revolution, the audience felt the same pain and sadness without having experienced the situations presented. This is due to shared values, ranging from the value of a child's life to the condemning of sexual assault and the corruption of the church. These values tie into situations found in our lives and allow us to relate with what is on stage. The expelling of emotions allows us to emerge from the play with a clear mind and an awareness of what message the play was attempting to relay to the audience.

Photo credits:

HTTPS://AN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/SARAH_BERNHARDT (cover image) (image of the inside of Constans Theatre) (depiction of textile factory)

Created By
Jasmyn Irani

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