Good Life Performance: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

By: Hamza Elmohd

Picture of me taken by Seung Park.

The Spatial Experience

This performance was my first theatre experience ever and it definitely will not be my last. The entire experience was entertaining from getting seated to curtain close and i loved every minute of the experience. The Constans Theatre is very well designed and has an artistic aesthetic that enveloped me in a world of culture that I had never experienced at the movies. Once we were seated my friends and I excitedly waited for the beginning of the play hoping to enjoy a great story and even greater performance. I was seated on the right side of the theatre and close to the back which i felt was not the best seats, but the seats were very good for viewing the stage. Once the lights dimmed and the audience quieted down, I was enamored by the whole experience as I began to realize that all of the actors movements and lines were being performed right in front of me and not on a screen after months of filming and editing. The theatre made me understand that place is important in the good life as the place sets the atmosphere and can make an experience a good or bad one.

Pictures of sculptures found in the lobby of the theater.

The Social Experience

I went to the play with three of my closest friends and we met up prior to the play and went to the the theatre together. I dressed up for the performance in order to get the full experience of going to a theatre and noticed that many other people dressed up as well as my friends. The experience was exponential better with my friends as we laughed to the jokes cracked by the talented actors, held our breath as the tension escalated and mourned for the death of characters in the play. I also enjoyed the ability to talk to my friends during the intermission and discuss the many dramatic elements we saw executed by the UF School of Theatre & Dance. The good life is best experienced with others and sharing experiences with others amplified the enjoyment I had and made my first theatre experience a memorable one. I noticed that almost any activity can contribute to the good life as long as you partake in such activity with your friends and share great experiences together.

Seung and I enjoying the theatre before the play starts.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Seung, me, Edwin, and kunal waiting for the play to start

The central message behind the play that appealed to me was the conflict between the Church and the State and the growing secular ideals that arose during their time. In the play, the Church has almost complete power over the entire and populace and is opposed by none. This issue has been debated for years and continues to be a problem until this day in which the church still holds power and influences the decision made by the state. Although the play is set in the early 1900's it still discussed relevant issues except for the issue of underage child workers and the many deaths that occurred due to the harsh conditions. The performance made me understand the importance of art and culture in addressing major issues in society and combating the traditional views in order to help progress our future. I related to the issues between religion and popular culture since I have felt that my religion has conflicted with many cultural trends that have appeared in the new modern age. I believe that religion still holds people back from accepting new popular culture and gives to much power to the heads of religion.

The Emotional Experience

Seung, Edwin, Kunal, and me after the play.

The play provided a great opportunity for katharsis by addressing many uncomfortable topics that are not commonly publicized. The play addressed a major issue that was common at the time period that occurred within the Catholic institute where many priests were accused and found of guilty molesting young boys. I found that the play revealed this issue in a very dramatic delivery and had me sitting on the edge of my seat every time Michaud asked Talbot what happened to him when he was at the old school. The play brings katharsis for those who have been abused as a child and had harsh tough experiences as young boys in society. The play also address the issue of the dangerous workplace that young children were subjected to due to the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Nowadays child labor is considered illegal and very uncommon in industrial countries, but more primitive countries still use child workers as well as the growing problem of child soldiers in many third world countries leading to a high mortality rate for children. The play helps people come clean by showing how Michaud stands up against such injustices to achieve what he believes is morally correct.

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