My Viewing of "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" By Connor Sweeney

Sweeney, Connor. "Before the Play." 2017. JPEG file.

THE SPACIAL EXPERIENCE

View of Constans Theatre seats. 27 Jan. 2016. University of Florida Constans Theater Air Handling Unit T2 Replacement. Foresight Construction Group. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

When I entered the theatre, I felt that it was fairly modestly sized, which would make it easy for me to see the action happening onstage and allow me to feel like I'm intimately watching events unfold before me while giving me a sense of open space. I also felt that there was plenty of room on the stage, which would make performing the play and arranging the props fairly simple. My seat location was toward the middle of the theatre, off to the left (looking out from the stage), which affected my experience in that I had a good view and an interesting angle of everything happening. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I felt curiosity as to what exactly this play would be about, plot-wise and symbolism-wise. The modesty of the theatre reflected the Good Life in that there was nothing too fancy about the theatre, which showcases the Good Life ideal of focusing on simplicity and modesty without excessive extravagance.

THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Two people watching a play together in an audience. N.d. XS Entertainment. The Guardian. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.

I sat with a friend I made in Spanish class last semester. To get ready for the performance, we read up on the play to learn a little about it before attending, and we made sure our cellphones were charged so we could get the pictures we needed before and after the play. Attending the play with my friend made me feel more comfortable in the theatre, and also proved useful for both of us if either of us had a question about a specific moment; we could ask each other to help explain what had happened. The shared experience reflects the Good Life in that most of the worthwhile and meaningful moments in life are even better when shared with a friend.

THE CULTURAL & INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE

The women workers grooming the boss. 07 May 2015. La Divine Illusion-The Divine. Michel Marc Bouchard. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

The play helped me achieve a new understanding of our culture by showing the play's central issues (corruption and hypocrisy) through a historical lens. The play took place at around the turn of the twentieth century in Quebec City, where the Catholic Church exercised remarkable control over the laypeople's social and spiritual lives. I knew the temporal and spacial setting and a little about the historical social context of the play before attending. The performance did not change my viewpoints on corruption and hypocrisy, but it certainly opened my eyes to how prevalent those things were in the past, especially at the turn of the twentieth century. The subject matter is relevant to my life, because I have had to deal with a fair amount of hypocrisy from various people my age and from adults. Seeing how much worse and more common this was back in the day opened my eyes to how honestly fortunate I am to live in the world I live in today.

THE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE

Sweeney, Connor. "Leaving the Theatre." 2017. JPEG file.

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides with an opportunity for katharsis in that it allows us to look back in history to a time period of remarkable corruption and two-facedness. Seeing how cruel the Boss is to his workers while championing their rights or how a Catholic priest managed to mask his grotesque sexual abuse with an image of spiritual wholesomeness let us be exposed to the darker side of humanity. However, it also lets us see the passion and optimism of humanity in Bernhardt and Bouchard, as well as their determination to push into the future. As a result, we're allowed to come to terms with humankind's uglier aspects, focus on changing ourselves and the world around us through finding what is truly meaningful and what brings legitimate happiness, and move forward.

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Connor Sweeney
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