The Divine Tatiana Arce

The Spatial Experience

Upon entering the Constans Theatre, I was surprised by how open it is. The modern architecture with tons of windows allowed for a lot of natural sunlight to radiate through. I especially liked the decorations hanging from the ceiling of the building.

(Sheng, Shan Shan Harp of Color 2003)

After my ID was scanned, I entered the large auditorium, and was seated in the right side. I enjoyed where I was seated because it gave me an overview of the stage. When the lights were dimmed and the performance started, there was a sense of anticipation amongst the crowd. Personally, I didn't know much about the play so I was excited to see what it would be about. I especially liked how the actors engaged with the crowd. Ms. Sarah Bernhardt herself performed one of her monologues near me, which was thrilling. By not restraining themselves to merely the stage, I felt more engaged and not just like a spectator.

I think the role of place in the Good Life is important because sometimes we go through life and do not recognize our surroundings. Walking into a building and taking in the visuals, architecture and colors is something people rarely do. It is important to live in the "now" and observe various senses.

The Social Experience

Initially, I was going to attend the performance with my roommate. I sent her the instructions on how to sign up for the play, but since she a junior and not enrolled in the class, she couldn't sign up. She was looking forward to going, so we were both bummed when she couldn't come. I went alone to the theatre and ate jolly ranchers while I watched the performance. Going alone to the play was dreadful at first, but I later found myself introspecting during the intermission and after the play. Although, it would've been nice to debrief my opinions about the performance with somebody.I also think social experiences are an important aspect of the Good Life because memories contribute to happiness. Sharing experiences with people create bonds like non-other, which enrich our sense of being and importance.

We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone. -Orson Welles
Picture: http://www.uff.ufl.edu/facilities/facilities.asp?id=97

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt encompassed a lot of themes like family sacrifice, poverty, and oppression from the church. I didn't know anything about the play prior to visiting Constans Theatre, but I enjoyed the surprise. Although the play took place in the 1900s, I think it still holds a lot of relevance. Sarah Bernhardt herself gets a lot of scrutiny from the media, which is something still happens with celebrities nowadays. Even back then, when technology wasn't as developed as it is now, journalists still pried for a juicy headline. The play also debates concepts like oppression from the church. The church held so much power and used it to control the media as seen when Michaud delivered the message from the high priest. Lastly, the play uncovers the central concepts of poverty and family sacrifice. Mrs. Talbot, Leo and Talbot work together in order to better their family's situation, yet they had to pay the unjust price of death. The family had to work under inhumane conditions and were exploited harshly by their boss.

My view from my seat at Constans Theatre.

The play didn't really change my mind on any of the central concepts addressed, but it did made me think about how these problems are timeless. Abuse of power and exploitation of people will always be an obstacle regardless of the time period. The play also addressed promiscuity of women and how it is looked down upon. This is something that, as a woman, we struggle with constantly. The double standard between men and women is overwhelmingly divisive.

The Emotional Experience

I think theatre is a creative way to express emotions, tell a story, or get a message across. The raw emotions the actors put themselves through is admirable. I think The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt did provide an opportunity for katharsis. Sometimes making something fictional and incorporating real life struggles is the proper way to confront social issues. I especially think the monologues the characters have with themselves play a vital role in the experience. It's interesting how actors but themselves in a vulnerable state in order to uncover certain emotions and make the performance as real as possible. The play allows us to 'come clean' about happiness because we empathize with the characters and then introspect the messages from the play.

The point of theatre is transformation: to make an extraordinary event out of ordinary material right in front of an audience's eyes. Where the germ of the idea came from is pretty much irrelevant. What matters to every theatre maker I know is speaking clearly to the audience 'right now.' -Lee Hall

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