Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Bianca Gavaller

Constans Theatre, University of Florida. 2016

Upon entering The Constans Theatre I was actually shocked because I didn't even know there was a theatre in the Reitz Union. It was pretty basic outside of the auditorium, but when we got into the auditorium, it was a different story. The atmosphere was very relaxing. The lights were mellow, the seats were comfortable, and I liked how the seats went down to the edge of the theatre where the stage started. My seats were located about halfway down, and it offered a clear and up-close view of the performance which I liked. When the lights dimmed and audience quieted, we knew the play was about to start, and while I'm not a huge fan of plays, I had a bubble of excitement in my stomach. The setting was finally set for the play, and I would soon be immersed in a different world. The size of the auditorium enhanced the experience of watching the play because the acoustics were amazing. The sound reverberated really well and everything was heard and felt to the fullest extent. This shows how the setting/place does contribute to the Good Life. It can enhance your experiences as you discover yourself through things such as plays and musicals, where your beliefs are challenged and possibly changed.

I attended the performance with a friend from class. I think it was much nicer going with a friend than by myself because I had someone I could share small tidbits of thoughts with throughout the play. To get ready for the performance, we did not do anything special. We both just showered and tried to look nicer than usual, because when you go to the theatre it is a more polished and sophisticated atmosphere. Sharing this experience with a friend, and just sharing life experiences in general, makes for a Good Life. When you have people in life that you have common experiences with, it creates a bond between the two of you. You can attain a sense of comfort through these shared instances, which makes you feel as though you are a part of something; you do not go through life alone.

The performance dealt with a lot issues; one that stood out most for me religion's censorship vs. free expression of the theatre. The Church in Quebec, namely the Archbishop, was trying to censor Sarah from performing her plays that praised "adulterous love", and Talbot's experiences being sexually abused. Before this play, I somewhat had prior knowledge on this issue. I knew that back in the day, the Church would often condemn things as being sinful or adulterous, and it had a much larger impact on the public than it does now. I did not know, and truthfully I still don't now, whether sexual abuse was prominent in the Church. The play, while it did highlight the extreme conflict between censorship and freedom of expression, did not change my views, however. If anything, it just angered me to see the extent the Church was going to try and cover up its own sins and the free expression of other people. The only connection to my life I can think to make is with the current president. Lately, Trump increasingly seems like he's trying to control what the media says about him; he only wants them to highlight his "good" qualities. This parallel the Church's attempts at censorship.

The play provides the audience with opportunities for katharsis. As we go through the journey alongside the play's characters, we can experience this release with them. Finding out about Talbot's abuse was a big moment in the play and a big opportunity for katharsis. It shocked me, yet at the same time, finally finding out what this big mystery was felt like a huge relief. The build up of emotions and anxiety over what Talbot could be hiding was so great, that when we finally found out his secret, the emotions spilled over. I felt immense sadness, anger, confusion, betrayal, the need for vengeance, but at the end of it all, there was a relief that came from not having to carry the burden of not knowing anymore. We, the audience, were cleansed of our anxiety, at the same time Talbot was cleansed of his secret.

Constans Theatre, University of Florida. 2016
Created By
Bianca Gavaller


Created with images by annca - "popcorn cinema ticket" • dominique Bernardini - "church"

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