The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By jacob Bauman

Going to the theatre is an experience very vast from other forms of entertainment. Seeing a performance live invites a different type of energy into the room. Prior to this performance I have never been to the Constans Theatre. The fact that this theatre is located in Reitz Union makes it extremely convenient for students to enjoy different forms of musical arts. Once I stepped into the building I didn’t know what to expect. I haven’t seen a live play/musical in a very long time. Fortunately, my seat was centrally located, which allowed me to decipher everything that was occurring and placed me close to the performers. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted I was curious to see how the actors/actresses were going to utilize the information on the pamphlet and turn it into a piece of art. The performance was crowded but it didn’t really influence my interpretation of the play. This is because everyone was respectful and quiet. I believe it’s the audience and atmosphere that determines the role in the Good Life. The audience allowed me to get more involved in the play. For example, when a scene ended people began to clap and cheer. This gave the auditorium excitement and energy. If the performers are really into their roles, the audience will also feel that passion.

Luckily, I had a good first experience at Constans Theatre. I was able to attend the play with 3 of my close friends. This definitely made the play more enjoyable and interesting because we were able to share our first experiences together. In the past we were all never fans of the theatre but after this performance we may give it another chance. I got ready for this performance by getting a brief understanding of what the play would be about before watching it. This gave me the ability to follow the performance without any confusion. I also wore a polo with jeans, which is the proper theatre attire. Shared experiences are a prominent part of the Good Life. It allows you to confront journeys and face them with someone who is experiencing the exact same thing as you. Regardless of whether or not it was a good experience you have someone there to communicate with.

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allowed me visualize and understand different perspectives in our culture. It also takes historical events in order to represent how corrupt our society is. During the 20th century, prominent French actress, Sarah Bernhardt was denied her role to perform in Quebec City. The Catholic Church sent two seminarians to give the beloved actress a letter forbidding her to perform. The Archbishop ridiculed Bernhardt’s portrayal of adultery as well as her defiance towards the Catholic Church. The two seminarians, people chosen to deliver the letter, conveyed different classes of wealth. The first seminarian, Michaud, is the son of the province’s Minister of Finance and contains wealth, while the other seminarian, Talbot, comes from a poor family. However, Michaud is extremely passionate about theatre and Talbot is uninterested. The fact that Michaud grew up with money demonstrates why he is interested in the theatre and Talbot’s poor status implies that he wasn’t granted the opportunities of going to the theatre as a child. This forces Michaud to write his own script for Bernhardt which ultimately leads to conflicts between the rich and poor, church and state and ideas of the ideals of the theatre. The central issue in this play is that a female is denied her right to perform in Quebec City because the church doesn’t concur with her beliefs. I learned that it’s important to stand up for what you believe in and that it is alright to challenge the beliefs of a higher power. Prior to the performance I only knew background information concerning the time period. The play taught me that Sarah Bernhardt is a paragon to women throughout history. Females during this period were treated as inferior. She challenged authority and utilized her voice. Also, it portrayed that the wealthy are granted far better opportunities than the impoverished. This subject plays an important role in my life. As a student at the University of Florida, I walk through Turlington only to be bombarded by different preaching’s to the general public. Even though some of these messages are racist/anti-Semitic these beliefs are challenging/questioning what society believes to be correct.

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is an exemplar for the term “catharsis.” This play discusses topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, and culturally radical. Bernhardt addressed topics that were looked down upon. For example, adultery and questioning the church. Going to the theatre gives the performers and the audience a sense of katharsis because they are interchanging different energies and emotions. This gives the audience a true sense of the historical context and time period. I was easily able to visualize the issues of the late 19th century and the early 20th century. I now understand that this was a period of conflicts between the rich and the poor, individuals and religion and lastly women and society. The struggle for women is still prevalent and they continue to fight for equality.


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