The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt by Elise Hudson

When I walked in, the auditorium was mostly empty. I was so afraid of being late that I arrived early and was able to snag a seat in the fourth row. I was a bit to the left, but I was mostly in the center. The theatre is large enough to accommodate the amount of people coming to see the performance, but it is also small enough to intensely experience the performance. When the lights dimmed, the tension and anticipation in the room seemed to break. The show was finally starting. My seat allowed me to feel as though I was genuinely part of the scene. I was in the front section so the characters were literally all around me. I felt extremely empathetic towards the characters because I felt like I could almost reach out and interact with them. I'm not sure if I would have had the same experience in a different space or if I was further back because I may have felt more distant from the characters.

Credit: Elise Hudson

All of my friends took Good Life in the fall, so I really did not have anyone to go see the Divine with. I had class until six at night, so I was rushing to get ready, eat, and get to the theatre. My friends who had already taken the class assured me that the play they saw last semester was interesting and thought provoking, and they knew this one would be no different. When I got to the theatre, I scanned my ID and sat in the seat I was directed towards. I happened to sit next to a guy who also came alone. We made some small talk before the play, and although it wasn’t much, I felt like we were connect in some way. I think everyone in the theatre, whether they came alone or not, was connect by the fact that we were all watching the play together. After I realized this, I did not feel so alone anymore.

Credit: Elise Hudson

Although we would like to believe we have a clear separation between Church and state, American culture is highly driven by religious values. We are still "one nation under God", and many political ideals are shaped by religion. Furthermore, the struggle between obtaining rights and fear that the workers in the play face are still very real today. Those from poor, working class families cannot afford to fight back against their bosses for fear of losing their income. Immigrants have a hard time finding humane work because they do not command the same respect that a caucasian upper class man does. This is applicable now more than ever with the Inauguration of our current president. No matter how one feels about him, there are millions who feel as though they are being backed into a corner by conservative values and discrimination. Coming into the play I assumed it would be about a wealthy seminarian befriending and respecting someone of a much lower social class. I only knew the information that was given on Canvas. Now, I understand that they are attacking the romanticism of poverty, and condemning those who choose to ignore the horrific scenes that happen all around them.

Credit: Elise Hudson

For those who routinely reflect on the state of their lives and the lives of others, some of these uncomfortable topics may come across as foreign and rare. However, it is well known that not everyone in the United States feels the same way. The play gives everyone in the audience a chance for katharsis because it shoves controversial topics right in front of you and then lets you go out into the real world. Once those ideals have been brought forth, it is difficult to readily forget them. For example, walking through Turlington during the swastika protest may evoke more emotions that it originally would have. Once a person realizes how he or she truly feels about these topics, they can act on those feelings and move forward. The play gives people a chance to be honest not only with others but with themselves.

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