The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Lauren Ravelo

The Spatial Experience

As I walked up to the theatre, it was a very overwhelming and exciting experience. This was my first time experiencing a real play, so I didn't know what exactly to expect. At first glance, the size of the theatre is very intimidating because of the large stage; I just felt lucky I wasn't the one performing. The auditorium was quite small compared to pictures I've previously seen of theaters, but this worked to the actors' benefit. It would give a very intimate experience. I sat on the right-most side of auditorium, very close to the stage, and where the actors would enter. Being so close to the actors gave the performance a very personal experience. The lights dimmed, signaling to the audience that the performance was about to begin. The audience quieted down. There was a sense of stillness in the air. The audience's silence was a sign of respect to the actors' handwork and dedication towards their art. The role of place in the Good Life gives one perspective of where one is his life. It allows one to reflect on how far he has come, appreciate where he is, and realize how far he still has to go his journey.

The Social Experience

Before the play, I read the study guide for the Divine, so I had some background knowledge about the play, so I could follow along and not feel completely lost. I attended with a fellow classmate, having a friend at side took away my anxiety. I think going to the theatre with friends is very beneficial to the experience because it allows you to exchange comments and spark discussion on your thoughts about the play. I find it fascinating that an auditorium is filled with people who are just as engaged and ready to be taken on a journey. The social experience is essential in order to achieve the Good Life. Friends accompanying you on your journey makes pain more tolerable and introduces a new perspective that you could not see otherwise.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The play took place during the early 1900s in Quebec City. A time period when the church was very powerful (at times more powerful than the government). Also during this time period, there was a strong division between the very poor factory workers and the higher class, consisting of factory owners and actors. The strong hunger for money and fame blinds those of harsh social treatment of the lower class. It is revealed throughout the play that everyone puts on a facade to hide their pain. For example, the main character was labeled troubled early on, but his devious behavior was only to cover up his tainted innocence due a corrupt priest. Sarah, however, struggles with maintaining her illusion of a glamorous style but feels her talent is fading. I feel the theme they exemplified is still relevant to this day. The church is still trying to deal with abusive priests, there is a large divide between economic classes, and those in power continue to corrupt the innocent. I'm quite familiar with the subject matter due to history about the power of the church and the oppression faced by factory workers. This performance truly humanized the factory workers because it highlighted their struggle to obtain the "American Dream." I feel the subject matter of chosen ignorance is relevant to my generation because many times kids find it easier to disregard the oppression others face and choose to live in their own bubble.

The Emotional Experience

The Divine touched a very sensitive subject about sexual abuse from the Church. These socially uncomfortable subjects are important because they spark a needed conversation. Conversation allows us to think of ways we can better society. These socially uncomfortable subjects give a true insight on the entire human experience. Everything is not perfect all the time. We all struggle with our inner demons and try our best to mask them to achieve the best version our ourselves. It humanizes the characters in the play. During the Talk Back, the actors discussed their method of acting, like doing research on the various subjects regarding abuse in the church and the hardships factory workers faced, even reading personal stories of victims to truly capture genuine emotions of suffering and pain. They wanted the audience to empathize with every character because each character was facing his or her own struggle. I think they were successful. Any form of art is essential to society by providing an emotional catharsis and shedding light on all aspects of humanity.

All pictures are taken by Lauren Ravelo


Lauren Ravelo

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