The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Ashton Holderness

The Spatial Experience: What is it like to experience the physical setting of the theatre for the first time? For me, I have seen many Broadway plays, so the experience of initially walking into the Constans Theatre was not as satisfying as other plays I have seen. The initial vibe I received when I walked in was the same if I walked into an auditorium. There were not many decorations, and the environment did not remind me of a normal theatre. It may not be fair to compare the Constans theatre to a Broadway theatre, but those are the only other plays I have attended, so I can only compare it to those experiences.

These are pictures of the interior of the Constans Theatre.

After touring the lobby of the theatre, I checked in and got my ticket. Once inside the theatre, I was directed to my seat, which was three seats from the aisle on my left, and about fifteen rows from the stage. In all, I had a good view of the play throughout the performance. My seat was a positive addition to the experience of the play because it didn't hinder my ability to take in all the elements of the performance. During times in the performance, characters walked up and down the stairs, and directly in front of me, which experienced the realism since I was close enough to reach out and touch their hands. My first impression when sitting down and seeing the stage before the performance was interesting. The stage consisted of purple glass pane windows, with a large glass pane circle hanging from the ceiling. When the lights were first dimmed, I was curious to see how the current setting with infirmary beds would start the performance. The size of the auditorium did not affect my experience at all since I have been in larger auditoriums, as well as smaller ones. The sound acoustics were well balanced, as well as the lighting, so that was a positive. The role of place contributed to the good life because the setting was comforting and relaxed. The physical setting of the theatre was quiet and peaceful, and the setting in the play encompassed a laid back life. The setting of a missionary school truly proves that the only way to achieve the Good Life is to believe in the physical and spiritual self, whether that be god or something else.

A picture of myself before entering the theatre.

The Social Experience: I attended the performance by myself. When I first sat down in the theatre, I was put next to strangers. If I went with friends, the experience would have been enhanced because I would had been able to enjoy the play with others who shared similar interests, as well as discuss my thoughts. To get ready for the play, I researched background information to try and get a better understanding of the time period, and the plot of the play. I did not want to go into the play without any background information, so i would not be lost at the beginning. The role of shared experiences in the Good Life is very important. Just like any experience in life, it is more enjoyable to spend new adventures with others. The reason the Good Life is enhanced through the social experience is because it allows you to connect with others and remember fun, enjoyable experiences you had with friends later in life. Memories are more memorable with others, so it is more likely you will enjoy and remember them if you experience them with important people in your life.

Picture of myself next to the Constans Theatre box office sign.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The performance was a great insight to the different perspectives of the working class and the wealthy. It was insightful to see the different lifestyles, and how they connect to our culture. Even though the play was set in a different time period than the present, it still portrayed the struggles of the poor, and the willingness of the rich to help. Throughout the whole performance, one of the main issues was money and child labor. Working in a factory, especially as a child, is very dangerous and abusive. In the play, there were many deaths of children who were too young to work in the factories, but did so anyways to support their families. Additionally, the tone difference between the two classes was portrayed. The working class always pretended to enjoy their jobs, while the rich were actually happy with their careers. For instance, in one of the last scenes of the play, the brother from the missionary school, and the factory manager fought over the realism of working in the factory. In this fight, it was seen how the son of the mother died from being forced into an unsafe hidden area. The way the manager treated the workers inside his factory, as well as his guests, exemplified the lack of respect the working class received in that era. Before attending the performance, I had learned in high school about the social difference between the rich and poor, and how unfair the poor were treated. Also, I had learned how unsafe the factories were for women and children, and that was shown in the performance. I think the main impact the play personally had on me were the emotions the working class portrayed. No matter how much I learned in history class regarding the social differences of the poor, seeing the physical emotions of those in pain and suffering made me feel sorrow. One similarity I see from the social injustice in the play relatable to my life is bullying. In a way, the working class were bullied by the superior into doing anything because they had no choice. The only difference is bullying is not as severe, and could be prevented more easily. The reason for this is because bullying could be stopped by punishment, separation, superior figures, etc. whereas social injustice in the work force affected your ability to survive. Furthermore, I believe it is important to understand the lives of others in history and apply their experiences to our personal lives to learn from their mistakes; making it easier to achieve the Good Life in our personal life.

The end of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt in the Constans Theatre.

The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allows society as a whole the opportunity for katharsis by examining different aspects of life from an outside perspective. As viewers of the play, we have no first hand experience into the time period portrayed in the play, or the characters and their backgrounds. Therefore, we as the audience, must come into the play with an open mind, and think about the significance of the aspects of the performance. The play therefore allows the characters to come clean about their personal feelings towards the subject of matter without any bias from the viewers. The unbiased ability for the play to come clean prevents judgement towards anyone who disagrees with the ideas in the play. The play also portrays a down-to-earth character perspective, which allows the audience to personally connect with their emotions and feelings. Hence, the play allows the viewers to imagine living the life of the characters in that time period. Thus, the unbiased third party audience allows the characters to achieve katharsis and achieve the true meaning of the Good Life.

Disclaimer: All images were taken by myself, and were not taken from any third party sources. All objects in my pictures are property of the University of Florida, and the Constans Theatre.

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