The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: James Pennington

The Spatial Experience

"H. Philip Constans Theatre at the University of Florida" Taken by Myself

The front doors to the Constans Theatre pictured above are ones that I had walked by many times due to its proximity to the Reitz Union, but I had never really given it much attention. However, after going through those doors, I was in awe at the fact that such an impressive theatre was so close to where I walk every day. I arrived very early and was able to sit in the third row which helped increase the immersion as the actors performed all around where I was sitting. As the lights dimmed, there was the illusion of snow falling in the background and it made you feel like you were in the set especially as Sarah Bernhardt entered behind you and reporters were yelling all around the theatre. The theatre was a bit on the smaller side, but I feel like that enhanced the performance as it allowed you to be closer to the performers. Place contributes greatly in the Good Life as being in the right place at the right time provides you with the best opportunity to get the most out of your life.

The Social Experience

Leaving the performance after its conclusion

I had originally made plans to attend the performance with a couple of friends, but I had to reschedule due to an exam. Although I had to attend the performance alone, I did meet some people that sat next to me in the theatre which made the performance more enjoyable. The Good Life is not something that you can achieve or experience alone. Humans have a universal want to spend time with others and by sharing experiences with others it helps you to reach the Good Life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec, Canada (,_Quebec,_Canada.jpg)

The story featured in The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt took place in the early 1900s outside of the United States which was a world far different than the one we know today. The central issue expressed in the play was the role of and the power of the Catholic Church in Québec, Canada. I have always been interested in both U.S., as well as world history, so I knew quite a bit about some of the problems that would appear this play. Unlike 1900s Canada, our founders recognized in the 18th century that in order to be a nation of religious equality and freedom that the separation of church and state affairs was essential to this freedom. This resulted in the Catholic Church having an immense amount of power, comparable to that of the Canadian government at the time which is exemplified throughout the performance. The performance helped to reinforce my views of the importance of the separation of church and state. Even though the subject matter of the play did not have a relationship to something happening in my own life, I still enjoyed it very much.

The Emotional Experience

Photograph of the Play's Program taken by myself

I completely agree with what Dr. Pagán said about the way that theatre presents its rather controversial subject matters. I have always enjoyed watching plays because the directors, playwrights, as well as the actors and actresses themselves so creatively present these "socially uncomfortable" subjects in a way that is enjoyable for the audience and starts or continues the controversial subject matter presented. As for the opportunity for katharsis as it pertains to The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, there is a very prominent opportunity at the end of the play. After Michaud visits the priest that Talbot beat up, Michaud returns to Talbot bearing a letter written by the priest confessing all that he had done to Talbot and Talbot is faced with a choice of what to do with the letter. He has the option to give the letter to the authorities, show it to his mother and let her help him cope, or choose to rip up the letter and move on. Although Talbot chooses the latter, which serves as a very positive moment of character development, that choice becomes irrelevant as later stages of the plot unfold.

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James Pennington

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