Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

Introduction: On January 31st, 2017, I went to a play called The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. It was about a young rebellious boy who goes to a church to learn to become a pastor and meets a man named Michon. Michon introduces him to plays and they both get the opportunity to meet Sarah Bernhardt, a famous actress who has come to their town to perform. Sarah furthers Michon's interest in plays as well as inspires him by agreeing to perform the play that he has been writing. Additionally, towards the end, the boy becomes less rebellious, finds love, and becomes a priest for the church. In the end, they explained to the audience the importance of plays.

The Spatial Experience: This was my first time entering the Constans Theatre in the Reitz Union. I have only been to one other theater in my life and when I first entered, I immediately noticed that it was larger than I expected. The set was already set up, with various props such as six metal beds, and what looked like stained glass windows that one can find at a church. After about 15 minutes, snow started falling from the top of the stained window props and the lights were slightly more dim. I was sitting on the right side which I thought would not give me the best view of the play, but that was not the case at all. I loved sitting near the front because I was able to see the smaller props and individual faces of the actors and actresses. When the lights dimmed, it felt like I was watching a live movie. I liked that while the stage was large, the auditorium itself was not very big. It created a cozy, homey feel rather than a large movie theater feel. I think that place has a big effect on the Good Life because a good setting sets the mood and is an initial impression. A bad setting on the other hand, can create a bad first impression and set the mood badly, which would have affected the Good Life.

Taken by Rachel Michels

The Social Experience: Before attending the performance, I was told by a couple of my friends that I was supposed to dress nicely to attend the performance. At first, I didn't understand why I had to dress nicely but I put on a white blouse with leggings. Looking back and thinking about why we had to dress up nicely and I realize that just as location matters for the Good Life experience, so does having a decent look. I attended the Good Life performance alone, and while sitting in the theater, I was thinking about how everyone in the theater leads separate lives, never having come in contact with each other until this assignment and how we would all go about our own lives right after the performance was over. However, for the 2 hours and 45 minutes that we were in the theater, we all shared a common experience, a Good Life Experience. Attending the performance alone gave me a chance to reflect on the Good Life and the play without having any distractions from my friends.

Photo Taken By: Prajakta Kulkarni

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The story seemed like it took place in the post-industrialization era in the United States when machines had become prevalent but they were not very safe and child labor was still being exploited. The play highlighted the contrast in the lives of the rich and the poor during that era as well as some very important social issues such as child labor. It also described the importance of literature/plays in our society. Before attending the play, I knew nothing about the subject matter and I did not know what the play would be like. The play really gave me a visual understanding of the difficulties that people faced during that time. I really liked watching the play because I had read about a lot of the social issues in history books, but it was a different experience to see a visual representation of them. My views about the social issues changed because it's definitely a more emotional experience to see how labor laws and poverty in general affected "real" people than to read about it in a textbook. The subject matter relates to my own life in that in the play, the young boy was expected to become a pastor so he could help out his family. In a similar way, I am going to college to make a better future for myself as well as take care of my parents when they are older.

Photo Taken By: Prajakta Kulkarni

The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt gives us an opportunity for katharsis by looking at different social issues that existed and in some ways do exist through real life actors playing parts. Humans tend to be more visual and emotional meaning they connect to subject matter more when they see it rather than reading about it. The play touched on several issues and one of the biggest ones that still applies today was the treatment of the poor people that went on in the play. While the play was not exactly non-fiction, poor people were treated badly back then and are still treated badly. In the play, Sarah Bernhardt was given all the luxuries she needed at the factory whereas the workers were treated as if they were disposable. Similarly, even today there is class-based treatment and homeless or very poor people are not treated properly. Nobody really likes to talk about it, but through plays such as these, we can get a visual representation of what is happening and that gives us a way to "come clean" or provides an opportunity for "katharsis".


Created with images by cr03 - "Theatre"

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