The Divine: A Divine Experience By: Emma Berckman

Spacial Experience

Walking into the Constance theater there was a buzz of excitement in the air as people were walking into the theatre with friends, taking pictures, and talking about the show. The outside of the theatre was an interesting space, with the art displayed giving a sense of the performing art that was about to come, even before we got into the seating area. We were seated in the middle of the crowd, giving me a good view, and being close enough to see the characters and get engrossed in the story. The theatre was a nice size for viewing the play. It was large enough that you felt as though you were watching the events unfold from a distance, but you were still close enough to feel connected to the actors. Once the lights dimmed and the audience quieted I felt intrigued, as I knew a little about the play from the brief description, but didn't know how it would be portrayed. Place plays a large aspect in the Good Life. It is setting the stage for what you are capable of discovering. Your surroundings impact you view, what you're exposed to, and how you are able to react to events in your life. By placing yourself in different locations you can learn a lot about yourself, and experience much more, therefore leading you closer to the Good Life.

The Social Experience

I attended the performance with my roommate, Shelby, and our mutual friend Kayla, both of whom I have been friends with since high school. Before the performance, we were all at my dorm, getting dressed up, and reading the information that was posted on canvas about the play. We left early, and had dinner together at the Reitz food court. Attending the play with friends made the experience far more enjoyable than it would have been had I gone alone. It helped me prepare for the show that we were going to watch, and on the walk back to the dorm after the play, talking to the two of them was a good way to reflect on what the play was about, the message it was trying to convey, and our overall feelings about it. In the Good Life, shared experiences can be a helpful tool in multiple ways. Although you can learn things on your own, being able to learn from other people's experiences can allow you to grow at a much faster rate than having to do everything on your own. Having friends, and even experiences with strangers, can introduce you to new ways of thought, new experiences, and challenge you in different ways. This process can ultimately help to teach you more about life and guide you down the path to the Good Life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The central issues addressed in the play were moral issues that each character was struggling with in their own way. Before attending the performance I did not know who Sarah Bernhardt was, however, I had a general idea of both the poor working conditions in factories in the early 1900s as well as the corruption and issues in the Catholic church. Despite having some previous knowledge of these issues, seeing this play acted out gave me a new way to view these issues. Rather than looking at the facts that I already knew, I was able to see the more emotional, personal side of these issues. It also highlighted how morals are thought to be black and white, as there is considered to be a right and a wrong, yet this play showed how personal relationships and status can get tangled into these decisions and suddenly the moral answer is not as clear. Although I do not have any deep moral dilemmas in my life at the moment, it does show how in any issue that I am dealing with, I have to consider the impacts on others, not just the end impact on myself. There is also the lesson that despite what others may try to do, you should do what you believe is the right thing.

Photo:

Jackson, Eddie. 1915. www. eddiejackson.net/web_images/factories.jpg. Accessed 2 Feb 2017.

The Emotional Experience

The play provides us with an opportunity for katharsis because there are so many deep, dark issues dealt with in the play. There is Sarah Bernhardt, a deeply controversial character, priests doing things that break the sanctity of the church, child molestation, the condition of both women and children in the factories- the list goes on. Through dealing with this large number of issues, and in some sort of way coming to a close on many of these issues, the audience can in a sense come clean of their issues as well. These are large societal issues being drawn upon, and even if the audience has lesser issues, there is the idea that these problems will eventually come to an end. The audience's problems are most likely not as intense and life altering as the ones presented, and this look into the character's lives gives everyone the opportunity to consider these issues, consider their own, and hopefully come to peace, or at least to terms with what they are dealing with. By dealing with issues that are otherwise unspoken and taboo, there is a relief of this societal pressure to maintain an ideal life, take a look at the less than perfect moments of life, and come to understand that it is okay to face struggles in life and be impacted by them.

Photo:

UF School of Theatre & Dance. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. 1 Feb 2017. University of Florida. www.facebook.com/ufsotd/photos/a.173317002712603.41071.173309732713330/1453430771367880/?type=3&theater. Accessed 2 Feb 2017.

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