The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt bY JEsse Cabauy

the spacial experience

There was a general moan coming from all directions: people searching for a seat near the front, but not too near, and some conversing about their anticipations of the play that was about to begin. The time had hit when the show was supposed to start, and dozens of pairs of eyes drew slowly to the center, to the star - the catalyst of art in its dramatic form: the Stage. Lights slowly dimmed and the murmur lowered until the last few noises were quelled by a subtle shush. The darkness sort of enveloped me, and though I was surrounded by scores of people in a large auditorium, it felt as if it were only me and the stage. Not realizing I was still standing and staring, I quickly grabbed a seat in a row toward the back, stage left. Everybody stared intently at the center stage, enthralled by the long, winding wooden arches and tall, towering pillars held between beautiful stained glass. It was atmosphere at its finest, the place was perfectly set for the play - like the warmth of a fireplace while reading a book or the sound of raindrops before taking a nap. The setting and mood of a place changes everything about the experience, be it a theater to a play or a home to the Good Life.

pre-show anticipation

the social experience

I didn't come alone. Cameron, my roommate, had his ticket for Sunday, but I was able to convince him to join me on my Thursday showing. Together we sat in a further row next to a few strangers, particularly one who was rather tall and had an abnormally large hairstyle that obstructed my view whenever he'd shift positions. But it served to remind me that it wasn't only I taking in this story, but also dozens around me who would share my same experience, yet it would affect them each differently. Maybe the girl on my right knew how it felt to have an overworked mother, like Talbot - or perhaps the tall man in front of me knew what it felt like to leave home to study at a university at the expense of his close relatives. Whatever experiences we had, we would all take it in differently. And this is why shared experiences are essential to the Good Life - the people around me have gone through lives radically different than my own, and our collective experiences can provide insight to one another that can bring help in times of need or solace in times of hurt.

entering the Constans

the cultural and intellectual experience

I grew up in church. In fact, my school and church were one building - I practically never left church except to go home and sleep a few hours. Some people's experience of church as a child were legalistic, boring, or even judgmental, but I loved mine; there were a bundle of families that loved me like I was their own son, and there were friends there that I knew I could share anything with. When the play introduced Talbot and Michaud as Seminarians, I was delighted. It was just like home. However, as the play went on, the inadequacies of the church were exposed, as were the faults in the clergymen. When there was a scandal and Talbot got into a fight with the priest, I also knew how that felt. My church back home was full of inadequacies, full of scandals - it was inevitable, because it was a building full of humans. Going into the play, I knew nothing of the content, but its themes hit home for me, as I could relate to them with ease. The performance helped me realize that I was not the only one who felt disillusionment by the faults of humanity - it runs rampant through everyone's lives.

Michaud and Talbot

the emotional experience

Leaving home to come to the University of Florida was no small thing for me; I was the first of my family to actually leave, since my parents, brothers, cousins, and grandparents all stayed in Miami for school and work. I had a particularly strong relationship with my little brother, whom I still regret leaving to fend for himself in a brand new middle school. When Talbot had to leave his family, and particularly leave his little brother at a factory so that he could attend the seminary, I knew how he felt. And it was obvious that the parting was not a stream of rainbows and butterflies: there was obvious contention within the family - almost irreconcilable differences. I was no stranger to that; my family has an extremely strong bond, but there are always taints of strife and conflict in any family. Feeling the pain of leaving, but also the catharsis of beginning fresh - a new life, new friends, and for the first time detachment from family - was invigorating and liberating, yet tinged with sadness. Though I did not experience Talbot's caliber of separation from his brother and contention with his mother (and I never want to), I felt the emotional state of limbo that he was going through. And in seeing that same emotion in Talbot's life, I felt as though I came clean.

Leaving the Theater


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