Spark Story of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By zakariya hassouneh

(picture above is the set of "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" at UF)

The Spatial Experience

Me in the lobby of the Constans theater

This was my first time at the Constans theater, I did not even know where it was prior to this play, but the moment I saw the large lobby made of large glass panels and filled with colorful decorations I knew that this was a place for creativity. When i first entered the building i had a sense of openness which was most likely caused by the large amount of open space and many windows which showed the moon light. As I entered the auditorium I was told where to sit which happened to be about row five which is was pleasing because directly in front of me happened to be a large walking area which later on in the show performers used to interact with the audience. As the lights dimmed people began to put their phones away and quite down, but something else also happened, I began to feel a sense in the air that something meaningful was about to begin. This sense was contributed by the hush of the audience, the glistening lights on the back drop, and the dimming of the lights. Although the auditorium was not massive it was large enough to get a sense of an audience that came to see a play that would hopefully do more than entertain them but also invoke their emotions. This was most likely caused by the lack of empty seats when the play first began. A place is very important in a good life because a place can determine what kind of situations you are placed in as well as how you react to those situations, which in turn very strongly affect your idea of a good life. For example in the play "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" Misho is in a seminary school, this very strongly affects his good life because we he encounters a difficult situation he turns to god, this may correlate with his idea of a good life, if he were not in seminary school he may not be strongly correlating with his idea of a good life. Place also can determine how comfortable you are, if we are somewhere dark and loud that may not be what we envision for a good life so it could make us uncomfortable.

The Social Experience

Me standing outside the Constans theater after the play

Unfortunately none of my friends could come with me to the play, so I attended alone. For this performance I dressed in business casual because I expected it to be of a fancier setting. I made sure to silence my phone turn off any distractions not only for my benefit but for the benefit of other audience members. Although I did not attend the play with my friends I did end up having a conversation with Dr. Birkner who sat on my right. It enhanced my experience because I had my professor sitting next to me which meant that I had to be on my best behavior and focus on the performance. Although I did not share this experience with my friends I do understand the importance that shared experiences play in the good life. Going to get dinner can be a typical routine task that we do every day or it can be a fun event that we look forward too. What causes this difference is who surrounds when we are at dinner. Going to dinner with a group of close friends you have not seen in a while gives us some excitement and fun that is not offered when eating alone. The people around us strongly contribute to our good life because they can make a situation fun and exciting or boring and mundane.

Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Cultural and Intellectual Experience "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" takes place in Quebec, Canada around the early 1900's. This play brings out some problems that are often covered up or not told for fear of persecution and isolation. The performance deals with corruption inside the church, it tells the story of a boy in Seminary school who was personally violated by a priest at a previous seminary school. At the beginning of the play the boy wants nothing more than to tell the truth to the world, but as the story goes on and the boys brother dies the boy decides to give in to the Church's wishes and cover up the entire situation in return for a good job. This addresses the strength of the church and the power it had over people and even government back in the early 1900's. Prior to attending the play I had a previous knowledge that there has been corruption in the church and that at times it was covered up, but i also know the overwhelming majority of the church does not fit in the mold. The performance did give me a better view at what victims of such persecution face and it gave me a better idea of the power the church had back then. The subject matter of the performance does not have a relationship to my life but I can understand how it may relate to victims who have gone through similar experiences.

The Emotional Experience

It is very easy to see how a the topic of social injustice and corruption in church that was presented in "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" could be seen as controversial and radical especially for the time written. At the time it was unheard of and possible dangerous to speak out against the church. Although the topic the play focused on was probably uncomfortably for many it does not change the fact that it is a part of life and unfortunately there are many uncomfortably parts of life we have to face and discuss. By bringing such an uncomfortably topic to the stage it in somewhat grants us an opportunity for katharsis. It allows us to purge or purify our uncomfortable truths by watching a play on the societal injustices. For all the times that we see social injustice happen it feels like we're just shoving the wrongs under the run, but with this play were granted to opportunity to "come clean" and attempt to make ourselves feel better by removing some of the guilt.

Created By
zakariya hassouneh


Photos taken at the Constans theater at the University of FL

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