The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt Good Life performance


The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is a critical musical performance about coming of age and accepting your lifelong path towards a just and rewarding provincial life. Set in Quebec City 1905, the story of an observant yet indecisive priest, Michaud, unfolds as he struggles with expressing himself artistically on the theatrical spectrum, or abiding by the morals and predetermined paths of the church. Along the way the friendship he develops with Talbot, a likewise struggling youth new to the school, sets the stage for his play, adapted only by the glamorous Sarah Berndhart; a testament of speaking out against conventional norms and outdated biases in an environment of oppressive theological jurisdiction.

Before you is a photographic story, thematically representative of the conservative black-and-white shortcomings of the urban society portrayed by the otherwise colorful theatrical showcase that is The Divine: A Play for Sarah Berndhardt.

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Spatial experience

As the audience gradually got louder in anticipation of the start of the show, an unassuming falling of snow began in the front of the stage, mysteriously center and from an unknown source. The silence of the crowd begged them to begin.
The size of the auditorium was moderate, not too many seats but the area surrounding them was large and sweeping. The rows extended comfortably, horizontally filling the spacious cavern of soundproof walls and curtains. The stage was lined with columns of painted steel, with 3 beds on two sides of an otherwise empty lodge for the young priests. The dark background was by interrupted by a narrow arc tower of stained glass; this was the main scene layout throughout the play.

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The overall atmosphere and density of the auditorium was accommodating, an unobtrusive afterthought when properly immersed by the actions on stage. It is clear through the play a familiar background and feeling of comfort is secondhand to the concept of "place". For Michaud and Sarah, the stage and Paris itself expunged greatness and galvanized artistic inspiration. The priests were condemned to renounce a space and devout themselves to God by subjecting themselves to a rigorous school life, a limited household place, and restricted to the outside world. For many the seeking of a Good Life is tied strongly with the idea of securing oneself with their own place of comfort, stability, and inspiration.

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Social Experience

I attended the play with my roommate Morgan, both of us passive admirers of the performing arts and readily persuaded for a laugh. It was an enjoyable social experience joking around with the surrounding audience members, all roaring in unison in accordance with the over-dramatic comical acts of Michaud.

Surely like Michaud and Talbot both objectively noticed, the role of friends in the attainment of healthy and good life is major component towards the overall well being of an individual. Through friendship, camaraderie, and the general faith in good people and good acts goes a long way in establishing good relationships and habits among a free community.

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Cultural/intellectual experience

On the same page as Sarah

The cultural implications of society expressed by the conflicts of the play allowed me to further analyze my own thoughts and feelings of individuality. I was forced to consider how other people were deprived of the simple liberty of being who they are, seeing life in their own subjective perfection, developing their own notions and wants as a product of an equally open and receptive society.

Seeing that certain freedom lacking in the culture of a secular Quebec, I am reminded of the similar impediments imposed on certain minorities and misrepresented groups in our own society, both politically and socially. The discrimination and imprinted customs of the past cannot be repeated or further ignored solely for the benefit of those put in power to command desperation with fear. Whether its a Church dis-communicated from the wants of its people, or a reality-tv executive office bordering on unconstitutional bigotry.

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Emotional Experience

The main emotional appeal behind the Divine is the ability to confront those controversial, sickening aspects of life most don't find themselves exposed to in their own lives, and in the world of today. The opportunity to see the affects if adversity we would never imagine being part of, let along experiencing first hang, is the most plwerful sensation of that emotion second to actually going through it. It puts you on a personal level with the characters, establishes an empathetic tie, not of character and audience, but of person and person. The troubles and conflicts seem more life a telling of events that happened, could happen, and are happening, rather than remind them of an exaggerated story of humanities unsettling nature.

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Cited work:

Reference: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Playbook, Florida Theatrical Association Production Team

Intro Image: Felix Nadar, Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, 1864, The Redlist, Accessed 02|05|17

by German Dominguez, University of Florida

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