The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Shelby Neal

The Spatial Experience

Upon entering the J. Wayne Reitz student union, the gateway to the Constans theatre was evident. The wood paneling of the doors and the silver lettering added a nice aesthetic and set the viewer up for the beautiful interior of the theatre. In order to create the proper overall experience, we were asked to check in our backpacks, and then we were through the doors and inside the actual theatre. The already dim lights, set a tone of mystery and anticipation. The stage was already furnished and the majestic stain glass backboards were a stark contrast to the pressed white beds. I ended up sitting on the left middle of the audience and my view was entirely uninhibited. In most theatre performances, the lights are flickered or prematurely dimmed to announce that the show was about to start. However, for this play, first a trickle, and then a stream of snow was projected along the backdrop of the stage. This gave the viewer a sense of awe and pulled them in before a single word could be said.

The Social Experience

I attended the performance with four of my freshman friends. I had just finished attending a workshop, so we all met up in the lobby of the Reitz. Three of us are in the same good life class, so it was interesting to see how our lectures applied or could be related to the play. The unique thing about this show was that almost everyone in the audience was in the same position as me. The majority of us being freshman students at UF, it was interesting to be surrounded by intelligent peers in the same area of life as me. Hearing their conversation during intermission and after the play was stimulating and like-minded.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Being in theatre in high school, I am used to many types of plays. However, historical or historical based theatre is not something I am familiar with. Therefore, I enjoyed experiencing something new. It was also interesting to get a glimpse of the church's perspective of theatre in that time period. In terms of Sarah Bernhardt, it was entertaining to hear about and see the lengths to which an actress, even in that time, would go to be seen and be a unique and envied figure. Below is a picture of the playbill/advertisement for the play.

The Emotional Experience

Throughout the whole play, I was drawn in by the character of Talbot and his seemingly mysterious and dark background. His ability to question and expose the church was an uncomfortable but revealing perspective. This play had many notes of religion and corruption within it, which is a highly controversial subject. Not only were Michaud and Talbot given a job to undermine a supposedly irreverent play, but underneath that, the actual plot of the play was very religiously disrespectful. This type of questionable theme actually spurred many interesting conversations from my friends and me. However, in the midst of all the controversy, a feeling of Katharsis is evident. Though Talbot is pulled left and right with his choice between bringing his family wealth or telling the truth, in the end you are left with a sense of purity and light. All is well in the world at least for a single second.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.