The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt an experience in the humanities

My Spatial Experience at the Constans Theatre

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt was put on in the beautiful Constans Theatre in the Reitz Union. I had never been to the Constans Theatre, and I was impressed by the ornate theater, and the powerful atmosphere it created. The Constans Theatre is located in the Reitz Union; the Reitz Union has a modern, utilitarian architecture and style that fits its purpose as an academic space to be used by students and university staff. Upon entering the Constans Theatre, the atmosphere immediately shifts- it is obvious you are moving from a utilitarian space to a space meant for enjoyment, culture, and thought. The theater itself is small, creating an intimate environment which is intensified by the actors entering into the crowd before, during, and after the play. When the lights dimmed, the intricate sets made to look like stained glass windows were illuminated, and the intimacy of the environment increased even more. It felt as though we were transported into the beautiful and colorful seminary. I found the fact that the actors did not use microphones really impacted my experience. Hearing the actors project their voices into the crowd rather than hearing the voices come out of speakers around the theatre made the play feel more intimate, and I feel it also altered the way the actors spoke and presented their characters, adding a flair and flamboyance to their acting.

My Social Experience at The Divine

I went to see The Divine with my friend Maddie, and then when we arrived at the theatre, we saw two of our friends, Mallory and Kennedy, and sat with them. Overall, the viewing of this play became a very social experience. Most of my friends are freshman, so they had all seen the play for The Good Life and needed to complete this assignment, so I spoke to many of my friends about their opinions and thoughts on the play. Being able to discuss the experience of seeing the play and the themes the play explored with others really expanded my own thoughts on the play. I truly feel that we always enjoy experiences more when we share them with friends, and that definitely proved true with this play. The humanities are meant to be discussed, debated, and shared. Further, having a strong support network and group of caring friends is vital to living the good life and enjoying the everyday things that happen around us.

My Cultural and Intellectual Experience at The Divine

When watching the play The Divine, I noticed myself drawing interesting parallels between the commentary on Canadian society happening in the play and issues within our own society. The Divine discussed the treatment of children in factories in Quebec; as a viewer, we watch feeling like that is a time period that has long past and no longer exists. However, most of the shoes being worn in the audience were probably created overseas in a dangerous factory not unlike that which the Talbot's worked in. Also, the play discussed the interplay and conflict between religion and popular culture, a debate that still wages today as people question what is appropriate for the mainstream. For me, Sarah Bernhardt represents the radical, progressive voices that exist to push society forward. She is vibrant and pushes the boundaries of what is accepted, and in that way is able to move society forward and address difficult and taboo issues, like poverty and child labor. In many ways, this represents the larger role of the theater in society, a gentle but radical voice that allows for issues in our culture to be questioned and discussed in a public forum.

My Emotional Experience at The Divine

The Divine definitely provided an opportunity for emotional catharsis for me. I enjoyed getting to think about the theater's role in society as a unique forum for discussing and dissecting our own culture. For me personally, I experienced catharsis as Sarah Bernhardt's vibrance and radical nature helped her change the culture of Quebec and push through the roadblock of the religious establishment. I am passionate about politics and social justice, so a plot line in which the eccentric, outspoken character is able to make change within an oppressive culture resonates with and inspires me. I felt like the talk-back portion of the play was not only unique, but also functioned as emotional closure for me at the end of the play. I enjoyed being able to hear from the actors about their interpretations while I was still processing the dialogue and message of the play, and have any lingering questions I had addressed.

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