The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Good Life Performance at the Constans

THE SPATIAL EXPERIENCE:

As I entered the Constans theater, I was oddly enthusiastic about the production. I had heard friends mention how good the play was and the moment I entered felt as if I was about to partake into the collective enjoyment. My friend Danilo and I sat near the back to get a wider field of view without the proximity inhibiting the experience. We also decided to sit near the middle to obtain the best auditory experience. I felt sitting close to the stage would have limited not only our view but our experience. Sitting in the back allowed us to view the play in all its glory. Once the play started and the lights dimmed, the aura of having everyone in the room experiencing it at the same time as me made the experience much more exciting. You could practically feel everyone's excitement as the show started. The space allowed for a more entrancing immersion which supplemented the overall effect of the play.

I (Kevin Fernandez) am pictured on the left and my friend Danilo Souza is pictured on the right. These pictures were taken before the play started.

The Social Experience:

I attended the play with my friend Danilo who is also in the Good Life this semester. I found that having a friend accompany me with the play was extremely beneficial because after I was able to discuss the play with him and gain insight I may not have caught on. We both discussed the play after and that helped reinforce topics. Our dissenting opinions on the subject matter provided for a substantive dialogue that helped expand both our perspectives which enhanced the theater-going experience.

THE CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE:

This play dealt with some pretty controversial issues such as clergy molestation and child labor in the early 1900s. There were times during the play that the atmosphere felt tense among the audience and the stars of the theater later revealed that feeling was essentially deliberate. I was aware of the child labor laws that rose to fix the atrocities that existed in factories at the time and seeing it before my eyes made it much more visceral than I expected. These were atrocious acts but I realized it was important to realize that this occurred in the 1800s during the industrial revolution and demand for factory-produced goods would have incentivized most capitalists to engage in this activity so it is difficult to outright place blame and important to recognize the state of the period. My friend, Danilo, disagreed as he felt the issues were objectively morally wrong though it provided a fresh perspective.

The Emotional Experience

The power of theater is that it ultimately makes us reflect on ourselves and society. There is no "pure entertainment" as theater is meant to provide some critique of modern life as that is how it is most effective. In this play, our values are questioned both religious and moral. It is safe to say halfway through the play that the audience did feel very affected by what was revealed about Brother Talbot. We are presented with the opportunity for catharsis in developing our own opinions of the controversies in the play such as the child labor and the clergy molestation. We must confront these issues as an audience and internalize them to our best moral inclination, which is not easy. After the play, during the "talk back" with the actors, the actress who played Sarah Bernhardt stated with stunning accuracy "if you're comfortable, what's the point?"

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