The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Abigail O'Donnell

Theater entrance

Spacial Experience: Since most of the students entered through the Reitz union, I think some of the grandeur of the Constans Theater was lost. I went to find the bathroom before the show and got to see the main entrance. SO pretty. There was a good energy coming from the ushers and everyone was friendly and welcoming. I had a front row seat which was cool but they put seats down in the orchestra pit so we were below level with the stage. I felt this made it hard to see everything and I prefer to sit higher up so I can take in the whole picture. The set was amazing and so versatile. I especially liked the stained glass windows that made up the back drop and how the beds converted to the sewing stations. The anticipation definitely increased when the lights went down and the music started. Everyone got quiet and still, waiting for the action to start. This is always one of my favorite parts of a performance. I also liked the smaller size of the theatre. It allowed for a more intimate interaction between the performers and the audience. Overall I was happy with the space and the atmosphere. The arts have been a part of my life since a young age and going to a show is such a prominent part of my good life. I love sitting in a theater and being surrounded by people who love a good show as much as I do.

Social Experience: I attended this performance on my own which was just fine. It was fun to go out and do something social rather than just stay in my dorm and watch Netflix. The audience was very polite for the most part, which isn't always the case. However there was some texting and other phone use which was distracting, not to mention rude. But as I say, for the most part, the other audience members were enjoyable company. Being able to go and be surrounded by people and experience a live performance is really something I enjoy and made my evening fun and special. Sharing experiences, especially emotional ones, with other people makes me feel like such a part of the human race, like everyone watching is connected.

Quebec City 1905

Cultural and Intellectual Experience:This portrayal of early 20th century Quebec illustrated a number of sharp differences between the lifestyles lead by people today and back then. Especially the depiction of the lives of factory workers. During this time, North America was in the midsts of the Industrial Revolution and people were flocking to cities to find jobs in factories like the one Talbot's mother and brother work in. The horrors of such dangerous and menial employment and the impoverished lifestyle many of these people led were well demonstrated in this production. The deaths of Leo Talbot and the unnamed little girls were both dramatic and representative of true events that claimed the live of countless children during the rise of industry. Also the incentive Brother Casgrain was giving Talbot to lie illuminated another facet of the time period. In this era, education for children was hard to come by. Many youth worked to help provide for their families. Talbot was willing to to cover for his abuser to secure a proper education for his younger brother. In contrast, attending school is compulsory in today's world and child labor laws in many countries are strictly enforced to prevent children from being endangered. Another aspect of 20th century culture that was brought to light was the power and corruption of the Catholic Church. Brother Casgrain spent most of his stage time trying to convince Talbot to give false testimony about his sexual assault experience. Rumors of this dark side of the church have been going around for centuries and have only recently been addressed head on. Plus the power of the church has become much less political and economical than in the days of Sarah Bernhardt. The subject matter covered by this play is particularly interesting to me because it takes place in the time I am currently learning about in my U.S. History class. It was fascinating to topics like the Knights of Labor brought to life and woven into the lives of ordinary people.

The Emotional Experience: I have attended many a theatre performance in my life and I throughly enjoy the whole theatre world. In all of the performances I have seen, never has there been so much heart wrenching drama as there was in "The Divine". The plot was full of complex storylines interweaving to create a web of tragedy and heartbreak. Death, rape, drugs, sex, theft, the list of twists and turns goes on. Talbot is such a tragic hero who has been traumatized and abused from an early age. My heart ached for him as he told of his horrible experience in school. My heart broke for him when he lost his brother to the factory. But my heart swelled for him in the end when Michaud brought the truth of many people's suffering to light and brings their assailant to justice. I left the theater with tears in my eyes and a conflicting tide of sadness and joy in my heart. To me, the true magic of the theatre lies in its ability to draw someone in from the audience. Draw them into a world filled with lives completely different from their own, yet somehow the same. We feel the sharp stab of grief and loss, the yearning for companionship, the relief of friendship and the safety of family. I personally was so drawn into the lives of Talbot, Michaud, Sarah and the rest that sometimes it felt like I was there in the moment with them. Though this play was sad and sometimes hard to embrace, I am so glad I saw it and feel like I have a better appreciation for the goodness of my own life.

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