The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: Judy Jo Shippen

The Spatial Experiance

When I first walked in to Constance Theatre, I first noticed the modern sculptures that had been placed in the lobby. I felt like the placement of these sculptures allowed me to get in an artistic mindset and prepared me to observe the play as a work of art. After admiring the sculptures for a while, I made my way to my seat. Fortunately, I was in a front center seat, so I had an unparalleled view of the stage. I think this allowed me to truly immerse myself in the play, because it felt as if I were a part of it. When the actors looked out into the audience, it was as though they were looking at me. While I didn't register the size of the auditorium at the time, in retrospect it was perfect. It was small enough that I could focus on the play without distraction, but large enough that I could still feel a sense of community with my fellow play-goers. This experience has shown me how place can influence an experience. The make-up of the theatre was almost as important to my enjoyment of the play as the play itself.

The Social Experiance

I had the opportunity to attend this performance with two people I know, and I think that made me appreciate this play more than I would've been able to had I gone alone. Being able to sit next to people I was comfortable with and already knew allowed me to focus on the play and helped create a relaxed environment. In addition, seeing this play with my friends gave me people to talk about it with afterwards. After we watched the play, we debated its pros and cons and had an analytic discussion about what we liked and didn't like, which helped me put the play in perspective and appreciate it. It also allowed me to see the performance from other people's views, which was interesting. Community is built through shared experiences. It would be incredibly difficult to connect with others without them, and as we live in community and human connection is arguably an important part of happiness, shared experiences are important for the good life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experiance

This play had obvious social implications, some of which are directly applicable to events that are occurring today even though the play was set in the late 1800s/early 1900s. Various issues were addressed, from censorship to the gape between the rich and the poor and how people are able to exploit said gape for their own personal gain. Before watching the performance, I knew that these issues affected many people, even today, but it was hard to truly envision the people they affected or how these problems arose in the first place. The play made it easy to see how the issues it addressed exist all around us, sometimes without us even realizing it. This experience helped me understand some of the many troubles that are plaguing our society that I don't always think about. Many of the issues raised in the play, such as income inequality and censorship, directly relate to things that are happening in our country today.

The Emotional Experiance

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt tackles myriad dark problems, including sexual abuse and child labor. From the beginning, the audience is exposed to situations that appear hopeless. However, even in the bleakest scenes, the play reminds us that there is light in the darkest of places. Sarah Bernhardt, specifically, provides catharsis the audience with catharsis. She goes head to head with many of the problems that harm the other characters, and refuses to compromise her (and the audience's) values. She makes those watching believe that they too can overcome the forces that work against them, and gives the viewer a sense of hope.

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