The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt through the eyes of Leann Browning

"The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" is a theatrical play written by Michel Marc Bouchard and depicted in the early 20th century. I love watching live performances and actually dream of being on broadway one day so I was really excited about attending this performance. I attended the performance on wednesday, feb 1st, at 7:15 p.m. I had a class before the performance so I drove my moped to the theater and met up with some friends who were already there. The great thing about the good life class is that it gives you an oppturnity to meet other freshman and have relatable topics to discuss- like this class! it was a little chilly that night after the sun had gone down and it started to drizzle when I was driving to the theater! I had to bundle up in order to stay warm on the moped. It was not a fun ride i can assure you that! Once I got to the theater I had to find a place to park and make sure I got in there on time! It was a little bit of a walk from the parking garage to the theater but I enjoyed the exercise.

This was the first time I had been to the Constans Theater and I was very excited. I had high expectations, expecting the theater to be really upscale and the acting up to par. I was not disappointed. The theater was big and beautiful, and the art displays inside added an interesting distraction while waiting to enter the theater. I was sat toward the front on the very end and it just so happened that a couple scenes of the play took place right in front of me. There was about 3 or 4 times that the actors/actresses were performing only a couple of feet away from me and during the performance Sarah Bernhardt even shook my hand as part of the act. It was amazing having that feeling of being involved and interacting with the cast. It made me more interested in the play and feel like it was real life that I was apart of rather than scripted fiction. When the lights finally dimmed everyone immediately got quite, the anticipation building for the beginning of the play to begin. Not a single whisper could be heard throughout the auditorium. Place is a very important factor when it comes to the good life, however I want to believe its possible to reach the good life no matter where you are. Although, at UF, watching this play unfold before me, its not hard to see why this place would be my definition of the good life.
I attended the performance with my two friends, Katie and Kelly. Not only was it fun to sit and enjoy this experience with my friends, it was nice to be able to talk about the play with them afterwards. We were able to hear each others individual reactions and reviews of the play. This was helpful with gaining a wider perpestive of the play and also helped us understand the play better if someone mentioned something that you had missed previsouly. We were able to stay for the talkback together and walk back to the parking garage together. Like I stated earlier, I had a class prior to the performance so I didn't have time to really get ready for the play or dress up, which was unfortunate considering how many pictures/selfies this project requires (lol)! Its important to share experiences with friends and family because that creates memories and ties that build relationships. If there's one universal about living the good life, it's that it's not going to be a good life unless you have people to share it with.
The time period of the play was the early 2oth century where social influence ran high in people and their local reputations counted for a lot. This sometimes led to people following social customs or norms that they didn't always agree with. One of the main issues of the play was the topic of poverty. The trials and tribulations that families in poverty have to go through were dicpicted through the roles of Talbot and his family. His mother and little brother were having to work long and hazardous hours in order to keep their family afloat. Obvisouly I have some knowledge about poverty but I can honestly say that i have never experienced what it is like to be in true poverty and i don't think one can understand whats its like until you are in those shoes. However, during this time period, there was a lot less government aid and relief programs to help out families in need. Therefore, families had to do things to make ends meet like work dangerous jobs or even work illegally at young ages. One line during the play that really jumped out at me was when the factory owner was trying to pardon himself from the crime of employing underage workers. When he said something along the lines of "don't put all the blame on me, you should be blaiming the parents who beg me to hire them!", I realized that he was right. That was a two way street and it connected a dot in my head because throughout the play Talbots mother relentlessly made sure the factory owner was happy with Leo in order for him to keep his job. Although it was illegal and wrong for the owner to hire the young boy and put him in the dangerous situation, the mother wanted him to be working there, needed him to be working there, in order to help support the family! Its opens your eyes to some of the unfortunate circumstances that poverty forces people into. My mother was a single mom so when I was little times were hard. She worked two jobs just to keep food on the table for the both of us. Although she had an established career once I was a little older, she knows what it means to work your way form the bottom and that has taught her and myself to not take things for granted. We are not entitled to things in this life, we are simply blessed and lucky to have the things that we do. This play definitely helped me put into perspective how poverty has changed over the past century and how people who live in it find ways to cope with it.
Not only does "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" project Katharsis through its portrayal and focus on poverty, it also addresses issues people have with church institutions. I am a christian but I know that some people follow faith blindly and that was a more apparent occasion during this time period. If you weren't a person of faith, society looked down upon you. This strict relationship with the church allowed some issues to be overlooked or swept under the rug because the church has so much authority. This play voiced some of the terrible things the church had been trying to cover up for years and the pressure that the victims felt to not speak out about their abuse. This play highlights the more negative aspects of society but went along with a rising theme of realism in the theater. This play depicts real life problems instead of fiction that has no depth to it. People can relate this play to their personal lives which is why it is so impactful. Michel Marc Bouchard didn't try to hide the problems of the world but rather shine a light on them in hopes of making them seen and encouraging needed change. Its plays and ideas like this that spark social awareness and revolution.
Created By
Leann Browning

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