Fresh dressed and ready for the show. If you like a sophisticated night out, filled with killer set changes and a touch of drama, the Constans Theater is the place for you. If you are lucky, you might be able to catch a showing of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. This play features a world famous actress, Sarah Bernhardt, that visits an american town for a performance in a play. The town is very excited to see this play until the Priest forbids her to perform her lines. Though two seminary students, the experience of the big star coming to town is told.
The Spatial Experience: The Constans Theater has a warm and modern entrance. I think this kind of opening sight gives the performance a sense of professionalism with a heart for the arts. The Constans Theater is not as big as I thought it would be, but I am glad this was so because it seemed like everyone had a good view of the play. Where you sat did have one affect of the experience of the play. During the performance, the actors would walk off stage into the isles and continue their monologues. Those in the near seats were able to get up close and personal with the actors during the performance. When the lights dimmed to begin the show, I felt as if I was the only one in the Theater. This is because the place was pitch black and had no distractions. The audience was silent so it felt like no one else was there. I think this aspect can attribute to the good life because I was able to experience the play for my own and let my mind grasp the play and its meaning without any outside influences. This allowed the play to speak to me and for me to understand what it was trying to portray.
Socializing in the lobby.
The Social Experience: I attend the play with two of my friends. One I met at UF and the other I went to high school with. I enjoyed sitting with them and reflecting on the play as we walked to our cars. My friend I went to high school and I compaired the play to some of the performances he was a part of in the Thespian Society. I like how plays include an intermission period. I feel that this allows the audience to interact with each other. During this time, people can discuss the play with each other and make predictions on what is to come. The talk back feature was unique and something I haven't experienced before. Being able to hear the thoughts of the plot of the play through the people who know the play in and out provided a different perspective from that of just watching the performance. To prepare for the play I read some reviews about the performance. I also did some research on Michel Marc Bouchard. Shared experiences are important for the good life because they allow you
Playing a few songs while waiting to be seated
Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The play brought to light how the people of the theater were seen in Industrial Revolution. I did not know that some people thought that they were just people acting to be rich and prestigious. My view of the theater has always been of people displaying stories. I figured this was the same view of the general public but this is the first time I have heard of someone bashing the performers for people who act like they are rich and prestigious in their plays. The issue presented in The Divine was one of social class. The play highlighted the rough conditions that factory workers had to work in. Many of these workers were also children. The play projected the great divide between the life of a poor man and a rich man. The poor factory worker had to labor around unsafe equipment while the factory owner collected the majority of the profits. Factory owners had no regard for their workers and seemed to talk down on them. I knew there was an issue with the long hours and working conditions of factory workers in the industrial revolution but I have never seen these horrors through a real life story. In the play a worker loses her niece to a price of equipment that caught her hair. The factory owner gave very little sympathy to the worker and did not bother to make the machine safer for the workers.
Another cultural issue presented in the play was between the church and pop culture. The Pope forbids Sarah Bernhardt to profess her lines in her play because they are against religious views. After the Pope's declaration, more than half of the people in the town decide not to attend the play. This shows how powerful the Church was in this time. Although the united states is still "one nation under God", it has became more secular in the past 50 years.
A few pieces of art on display in the lobby.
The play did not change my views on any of the issues presented. Before and after the play I felt that the factory workers deserved better treatment and higher wages. As far as the Pope's decision to forbid Sarah Bernhardt from performing, I think that he has a right to warn his congregation of things that are not of God in the world. I think he should have just told his congregation this instead of sending her a letter. The Pope, in my opinion does not have the right to forbid her from doing anything.
The only way the subject matter connects with anything in my life is that I hope to be an entrepreneur. I never want to be the kind of leader that the factory owner was. I want to be someone that my employees can look up to and come to with any type of issues. The play allowed me to see an extreme case of how not to treat your employees.
The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is able to achieve catharsis about the social and religious issues in society. I think that a play is able to address these issues in an efficient manor because they introduce these controversial topics in the form of entertainment. The play writes are able to hint at these topics throughout the play so that the message does not just hit the audience in the mouth, which may happen in an argument between two people with differing opinions of a subject. The Divine is able to "come clean" about the real life of a family that works in a factory. The play displays how the factory owners try to hide the real conditions of their work place and make it seem like a happy place to work form the outside. But in reality, the workers are vary unhappy but they cannot do anything about the conditions. This is because they really need the money to support their family. Because of this, they put up with the lousy conditions. The play also touches on the point that justice needs to be served. This can be seen with the factory owner's conditions being exposed to the public and also by the priest admitting to molesting his students for many years. These two issues connect to an overall theme of people having to accept their state of being because they have no power. In the case of the workers, they needed their jobs to put food on the table. In the case of the students, they did not want to be thrown out of the seminary school. In both cases, the victims were denied justice because of their position in society.
Headed home after a good night at the Constans Theater
All photos were taken by me, Jennings Jackson. I also received consent to use the photos taken.