The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Shannon Murphy

The Spatial Experience

Upon reaching the Constans Theatre in the Reitz Union, I really had no idea what I was about to be experiencing. The title of the play, The Divine, could mean several things, so I really was going in very open-minded. I attended the show with a friend of mine and we were seated all the way on the end of the left side of the theater and near the back as well. Luckily, this awkward seating had no negative effect on viewing the performance. When the lights dimmed and the audience finally quieted I knew I was in for a long, but hopefully very enjoyable performance. I was excited to watch it play out. The auditorium was much larger than I expected; I hadn't even known this large room was even in the building. I think the role of place is important in the Good Life, if you are in the right place at the right time good opportunities may present themselves.

http://theshakespeareblog.com/2013/10/state-of-play-audiences-and-actors-in-the-uk-theatre/

The Social Experience

Attending the play The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt with a friend made the experience much more enjoyable. I went with a close friend of mine, Vicki Li. Going into the play, we had both heard positive ratings about the performance and were excited to see it. Going with an old friend made the entire event better because to me, hanging out with a friend is always better than doing something alone. We were also able to discuss the plot, actors and our favorite parts of the play afterwards. Sharing an experience with something is one of the best things you could do in life. Life is about creating happy memories and attending this play certainly counts as one.

the cultural and intellectual experience

One of the major issues addressed in this play is that of moral and ethical obligations. For example, Michaud struggles between continuing on his path to become a priest or following his true dream and entering the theater. Another character Talbot struggles with the shame of his past sexual assault and the economic struggles which his family faces. The play really emphasized all the struggles each character faced and how tried to show how they should be solved as well. The performance of the characters was so genuine, I could really feel the emotion and feeling they were trying to express to the audience. Like the characters, I too sometimes struggle with moral obligations. I think mine are different in the sense that I know I either need to do something or go somewhere, but at times its easier to ignore those obligations and switch you focus to something else.

The emotional experience

I think The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides for an opportunity for katharsis because it brings up the politically hot topic of social class. There are two drastically different social classes in the play, the upper class, including Sarah Bernhardt herself and the lower class, which includes the Talbot family. I think this play is a way to "come clean" about the atrocities that occurred in the lower class lifestyle. Working conditions were terrible; children were dying in factories because child labor existed. I believe this play presents this as a way to try and understand why these things were happening and how come no one influential helped step in until much later.

The first image from the introduction page is from http://www.performingarts.vt.edu/events/view/divine. The third image is from http://theshakespeareblog.com/2013/10/state-of-play-audiences-and-actors-in-the-uk-theatre/. The rest of the pictures were either taken by myself or Vicki Li.

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