The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: Grace Hingtgen

The Spatial Experience: Not having been to the Constans Theatre before seeing The Divine, I was very impressed that we had such a nice theater on our campus. The blue lighting outside of the building made it seem very inviting and the bright artwork on the inside made it a very happy environment to enter into. I was one of the first people into the theater and ushered to sit in the front row. I enjoyed sitting in the front because it allowed me to focus on the play rather than get distracted by all the other people sitting in the theater. The size of the theater didn’t really affect my experience since I was in the front row, and I think this shows that in seeking the “good life” we can’t let distractions get in the way of our happiness and enjoyment and that we should focus on the things important to us if we wish to attain this “good life”.

A picture I took outside the Constans theater when I arrived for the performance.

The Social Experience: I went to The Divine by myself so my experience was probably very different than most other people. Prior to attending the play I read the study guide and watched the introduction video, then walked to the theater by myself. About a minute after I got to my seat a stranger came and sat next to me. Although I’m not a shy person, I wouldn't necessarily say I’m outgoing so I didn’t say hello; however, after a few more minutes of awkward silence he introduced himself and we made small talk until the performance started. I was a little more comfortable now knowing this stranger’s name, but I would have felt a lot better watching the performance with my friends. This demonstrates how sharing your experiences with the ones you love is paramount in attaining the “good life”. It made me realize that in most cases the people you share your experiences with matter much more than the experience itself.

A picture of me outside the Constans Theater

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The Divine takes place in the year 1905 in Quebec City, which has historically been predominantly Catholic. It mainly dealt with social issues that were present at the time, some of which still occur in our society today. Such issues include: child labor, conflict between art and religion, and sexual/emotional abuse. I had learned a lot about this time period throughout my history classes in high school, especially the issue of child labor and all of the laws that have now been put in place to discourage it. I wouldn't say the performance necessarily changed my views on the subject matter, however it did cause me to rethink them a little bit. I realized that you can’t always know what’s happening in someone else’s life so although I was already against much of the issues brought up in the play, I came to the conclusion that i need to be more empathetic when issues like this do arise and try my best to help. Luckily I’ve had a pretty good life up to this point and haven't had to deal with any of these issues myself, however I do hear about them on the news a lot and from different student organizations on campus. One way I could help with these issues would be to join a club that helps spread awareness of the injustices in our society.

This is the play bill we received at the performance.

The Emotional Experience: Katharsis is a sort of purification which forces us to come to terms with our faults. The Divine was the perfect example of katharsis because the play itself was about issues which people prefer to sweep under the rug and not talk about. By so directly putting these issues in front of the audience, it caused us to acknowledge the fact that these injustices do exist and that it is up to people like us to bring them to light as Michaud did in the play. Sadly, not all people are able to admit these things to themselves and “come clean”, as was experienced by Talbot. Even after all he went through, he still refused to call out his assailant and instead lied about stealing the silverware in fear of the consequences that would follow for telling the truth. In the talk back at the end of the play, the actors discussed this topic and made the point that everyone thinks they're right and that their motivations are genuine. Although to us it may seem like Michaud was the one obviously doing the right thing, we have to respect Talbot’s decision to not come clean because it was what he thought was best in attaining his own “good life”.

A piece of artwork located just outside the theater.
Created By
Grace Hingtgen
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