Good Life Performance The Divine: A PLay for Sarah Bernhardt

This introduction photo was taken by Hamza Elmohd, a fellow student at the University of Florida. This photograph was taken prior to the play, The Divine, which after reading the summary, my friends and I were exhilarated to witness.

The Spacial Experience

Within the Constans Theatre

Upon entering the Constans Theatre the feeling was very foreign for it was the my first ever theatre experience. The inside of the Constans Theatre was fascinating for it contained various art pieces that I did not expect. The miscellaneous artworks enveloped me in a world of culture that added to the theatre experience. Entering the internal auditorium and seeing the set was truly alluring. The dim lighting, the curtains, and the view of the set created the perfect atmosphere for experiencing the play. In addition, the fairly small stage, seating close to the stage, and the interactions with the actors enhanced the engagement with the performance. The role of place and environment in the Good Life is that having a healthy and fitting atmosphere can enhance that experience an individual has and on the other hand, a damaging and unfit setting can be detrimental towards an individual.

The Social Experience

A photo taken by Kunal Kaushal of himself, Edwin Mouhawasse, Hamza Elmohd, and I

This photo was taken prior to the beginning of the play. I watched the play with my friends and we all shared the experience of a great performance by the University of Florida theatre troupe. Being able to discuss and question the plot and characters of the play before and during intermission with my friends had allowed me to express my ideas and interpretations as well as enlightened me to other point of views and primed me for the upcoming scenes within the play. The role of shared experience in the Good Life allows peers to communicate similar and different interpretations of the experience providing us with interpersonal knowledge and giving us new perspectives. Additionally, in my opinion, facing an experience with others amplifies the intensity and memory of the experience.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Metal Work displayed upon a pedestal

Two primary issues address in the play is the separation of church and state and class struggles. In regards to the separation of church and state, Sarah Bernhardt challenges the power that the Bishop and the church has over the people of the Quebec City. Also, in regards to class struggle, the play discusses the struggle that poverty face while upper classes are more safe and immune to the endeavors of the poor. The setting the play takes place in is in Quebec City during 1905. The city at the time was not very progressives and held primitive schools of thought, allowing the church to withhold so much power in the play. Prior to the play, I have read of and experienced both themes of the play. In the book, The Jungle, tells of impoverished factory workers whose first priority is making enough money to survive and factory owners priority is to make money and not of the safety of the factory workers which reflects the life of the Talbots. A recent issue for secularism was the argument for gay marriage, and the play explains how the church should not have such power of the social interaction of the people of Quebec City. The play ethically, logically, and emotionally fights to acknowledge these themes and have made me reevaluate my ideas about both these subjects. These themes are both relevant to my life fore differences in income continues to create hidden social classes and I believe that there should be a separation between church and state with dealing with secular issues.

The Emotional Experience

A picture of a colorful part of the lobby taken by me followed by a picture of my friends and I after the play taken by Bethany Greene

Having friends attend the play with me allowed me to reevaluate, discuss, and interpret our differing opinions after the play. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt addressed uncomfortable many social, political, and religious situations. Such situations include the death of a young child due to factory conditions and the deceitful covering up of rape to upkeep the churches image. Catharsis is the cleansing of one's emotional state which reflects repentance and confessions which is the Catholics method of cleansing of one's sins. Talbot and Brother Casgrain exemplify inefficient catharsis because Talbot chooses to cover up and not come clean and admit the misdeed done to him, and Brother Casgrain is unable to cope with the reveal of his abuse leading to his suicide. Michaud, on the other hand, by creating the play is his form of catharsis allowing him to separate the art of theatre away from the church as well as feed his moral by confessing the wrongdoings of a clergymen done to his friend. The Divine unveils the darkness and horrors that exist behind closed doors acting as a theme for us as individuals to realize who we truly are and the the intent of actions done by us and done to us.

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