The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt By: Angello Rennella

The Spatial Experience: I entered the Constans theatre through the side doors of the Wayne Reitz Union. The walk up the ramp and the dim, yet brightly colored lights felt like I was walking backwards in time. It was an eerie sensation that lingered through the play. Once inside, the ample space inside the lobby area made me feel small and unsure of what was about to happen; an addition to the eerie sensation from before. Once inside, the actual theatre felt smaller than I expected, but my seating location was near the middle, giving me a huge area of vision. This enabled me to fully immerse myself in the journey back in time. I believe that in The Good Life it is important to take into account where you are because your surroundings have an immense effect on your experience/journey to The Good Life. My seating location gave me a wide vision range, the dim of the lights gave me an eerie, back-in-time sensation, and the outside environment was intimidating enough to make the inside that much more grandeur.
The Social Experience (picture taken by student Emma Johns who chose not to be pictured): I decided to attend the play with a friend of mine. Before going, it took me a while to determine what "appropriate clothes" were but while thinking, I realized I was running out of time so I threw on a jacket and left. I chose to wait for my friend at the entrance and knowing girls, I ended up waiting a long time for her. During this time, I was able to interact with other students who were on their way to the play. It was surprisingly enjoyable to talk about our expectations of the performance and it made the play that much more enjoyable seeing each other's predictions come true! In The Good Life, shared experiences enhance the emotions of the individual. Humans are social animals and being able to indulge in memories and connect with other people about each other's Good Life makes the individual's experience more enjoyable and fascinating.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: I knew nothing about the play aside from the small synopsis I read before the performance began. The time and place were confusing at first, but I quickly was able to understand their effects on the plot of the story. The central issue transitioned from "Who is Talbot and what is his story?" to "How will Michaud reveal the play to the public?" The fact that the play was set back in time made lots of sense because religion played a much bigger part in politics and daily life. The performance opened my eyes to the debilitating effects of sexual abuse. I have never had any first hand experience with the subject at hand but I have been educated enough on the subject to understand the victims. However, seeing the play also made me realize how hushed victims were forced to stay because of the authority religious figures had at the time. It was both jaw-dropping and depressing.
The Emotional Experience: The play provides us with a view of the process of "katharsis" because the character of Talbot has to come clean with his past. The scene in which he, in a rage of emotion, declares his past of sexual abuse by a priest to his fellow church brothers was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Not a dry eye in the theatre and even less of a sound was heard. It is this kind of socially uncomfortable topics that Dr. Pagan describes in her lectures that make the theatre a sight to see. Seeing that kind of passion of emotion being expressed through a release of bottled up feelings puts the audience at an uncomfortable place, but a place in which they realize how human everyone is, and how the road to The Good Life may involves less than optimal experiences. I was able to understand this and realize that my road to The Good Life won't always be a walk in the park but it will be my Good Life in the end.

Picture of Sarah Bernhardt obtained through the free-sharing website "Alchetron.com." URL: http://everydayexploits.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SarahBernhardt.jpg

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Angello Rennella
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