The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Nicole Hao

The Spatial Experience

I had low expectations for the Constans Theatre, but I was surprisingly pleased. As I entered the auditorium, I experienced the buzz as people walked around the lobby before the play. The actual auditorium felt so cozy; the seats felt like familiar friends. I sat in about the middle of the row, and the row was situated in an optimal area in the center of the middle section of seats. The auditorium was about half full, and someone was directing us to fill the front first. I hadn't realized how intimate the play would feel. Rather than being a passive viewer, I felt like an active participant because of the proximity of the stage and the lack of overcrowding within the theatre. I loved feeling like the story was alive and real before my very eyes. I believe the role of place in the Good Life is to set the tone of the journey in the pursuit of the Good Life. In this instance, the warm cozy characteristics of the theatre aided me in my search for the Good Life during the play because the seats, the view, and the aura of the play enabled me to focus on delving into the meaning of the play.

Rachel and I took a picture with the playbook before the play began. She gave me written permission to include her in my spark story.

The Social Experience

I attended the play with all of my friends in the photograph below. Julian is severely frowning. David is grimacing. Emily is next to David. My best friend Rachel and I are at the bottom. To get ready for the performance, I looked up background information on the play, and my friends and I got all dressed up. Right before, we met up at Wendy's to eat dinner and then walk over to the Constans Theatre together. I loved attending the play with my friends because they really helped me feel at home and comfortable. Also, I loved sharing moments with my friends in the form of a glance as a reaction to some of the scenes. In my opinion, shared experiences represent the core of the Good Life. Connections through shared viewing experiences or shared feelings really strengthen bonds, and I believe that those human bonds are the key to living a Good Life. It is so much easier to be happy with someone else than by myself, and through shared experiences, I can see something of myself within another person.

My friends and I took a picture in the lobby with some art in the background. Some were happier than others, but all of them gave me written permission to include them in my spark story.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Although the story was set over a century ago, I saw many parallels between that time and modern society. The central issue on which I focused was the struggle between the church and the more scandalous side of society, represented by Sarah Bernhardt and the theatre. My background knowledge was very limited before the play. I knew of pedophilic scandals within the church vaguely, and I knew of how the church struggled to keep this a secret to maintain their power. The performance really made me aware of how powerful it is to have a dialogue about things that society (particularly the church) does not want to discuss. Previously I had also failed to realize what an impact the arts have in exposing subject matters which may otherwise be swept under the rug. Although I can't personally relate to the subject matter in the play, I can now be more cognizant and open to partaking in these crucial discussions of misdeeds by the church.

Rachel and I took a cute picture from outside the Constans Theatre. She gave me written permission to include her in the spark story.

The Emotional Experience

The idea of "coming clean" to topics which arose discomfort within me really resonated throughout the play as we explored the topics of sweatshops, rape, and pedophilia. As for sweatshops, it is just never something that I took the time to think about as I scoured my favorite stores for cheap but cute clothing. Yet, poor working conditions for adults as well as children are reality in other countries, and my purchases from clothing brands with factories in those countries support the mistreatment of those individuals. As for rape and pedophilia, there is no question that these awful experiences occur, and by failing to speak up and do something, I am a part of the problem. Through the intense storyline, these modern issues became something that I could not ignore. The play confronted these topics directly and forced me as the viewer to respond with katharsis. The most striking examples of scenes which provoked katharsis for me were the death of Leo and the silence of Talbot in response to the priest's abuse.

Rachel and I gaze while thinking critically near the artwork during the intermission of the play.

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