The Divine: A play for Sarah Bernhardt good life in the theatre

upper left: photo credits to A.D Morgan; bottom left: photo credits to Wikipedia. (Since there have no name of photographer and title of the photo, I cannot make it in the MLA citation )

At around 19:00 on 21 Jan, I arrived at the constans theatre with my friends. As i waited in the line of check-in I even could not stop feeling excited and surprised. For the sake of consuming time, I started to observe the outlook of the auditorium. Needless to say, it is exquisite and refined. The portrait paintings hanging on the yellow wall with the appropriate lighting are not only for decoration, but also for physical function. In this case, the warmer tone just appeases me a lot, stoping me from the excitement and gradually leading me to the setting of the story. Time's up! It's our turn to enter the auditorium. As we came in, the room was almost packed, with only several seats left on the back. Fortunately, we were arranged in the centre seats on the back, which provides me a great position to take a look of the panorama of the auditorium and allows me to better engage in the scene later. The setting on the stage was pretty delicate. The blurry pattern on the circular glass in the middle flanked by two bullet-sized windows reminds me of the rose window that is frequently found in the Gothic architectural style. To avoid separate distraction, the focal point designed by the light was located in the middle, especially on the area in front of the rose window. Relatively darker and weaker, the light on stage was also handed out to both sides of the stage, further enhancing the effect of the stage. As the light got dimmer and dimmer, all of the sudden, the crowd of the viewers that were previously heated went into the groove. The only light we could see was given to the stage, making it more narrative. At this time, my scattered thoughts and views suddenly gathered, and then shifted to the stage. Completely divorced from exhilaration, I slipped into an unpredictable calmness, and then fully involved in the story as the first actor went out into the stage. In terms of the effect of the size of the auditorium, before the lights dimmed, the size of auditorium that is 45000 sq, ft can easily be seen. The slopped floors helped to offer the sightliness from the audiences to stage, enabling every one on the seat has a chance to see what happen in the stage. Also, the distance between the last row and the next row is designed properly, and thus everyone will have a cozy place to put their feet and arms. When the lights turned off, the effect of the increased system got more evident, as it vary with the development of the story. Since there only has one stage, the switching of the places plays a important role of displaying good life in the show. The setting represents more than a place, indeed, it labels the different identity and different historical meaning, referring to the diverse meaning of good life. From church to factory, and then to dressing room, the place as a symbol indicates various personalities and identities, forecasting the upcoming events of the story.

My friend (left) and I (right)

I went to the performance with my friend. Currently, we live in the same building of the dorm, so it was quite convenient for us to schedule the performance. Before we set out to the performance, we did a couple of researches. I first skimmed the syllabus of the good life performance which is strongly informative. Meanwhile, she used the google map to locate the theatre. After 5 minutes preparation, we departed to the theatre in Reitz Union. Before the official start of the performance, we rechecked the syllabus again and made sure our phones were muted and everything were set. In terms of the effect of attending with friends, personally, I felt like the companionship with friends provides me a sense of security. For example, checking the information together further secures the journey. With notice of the information from each other, we were less possible to break the rules. Also, after the performance I could discuss with her about certain scenes that I initially didn't understand. Shared experience significantly matters in the Good Life. On one hand, the double understanding of the performances let me realise the multiple perspectives of the same thing, reducing the possibility of "narrow-minded." Similar to the definition of good life, every one has its own definition of good life and there are no standard of having a good life. Shared experience just enables me to understand various possibilities of good life.

upper left: photo credits to UF college of Art (http://arts.ufl.edu/in-the-loop/events/the-divine-a-play-for-sarah-bernhardt/ ); upper right/ bottom left and right: photos credit to Stage-Door.com (http://www.stage-door.com/Theatre/2015/Entries/2015/8/7_The_Divine__A_Play_for_Sarah_Bernhardt.html )

The story took place in December, 1905, when the industrial revolution started to spread to Quebec City, Canada. The central issue is to challenge the authority, unveiling the truth. Finally, Bouchard, the writer, has Sarah Bernhanrdt as a controversial actress spoke out humanity and truth. Before I came to the show, I knew very little of the performance. The only impression I had was that this is a story of a somewhat infamous actress. And then I guessed it was a story served as a bibliography of an actress and linked to the representation of good life. The entire story is very engaging through the performance of these excellent characters. What impress me the most is the various personalities of different subject matter. In the performance, no one is absolutely right or wrong, even including Michaud, as they all have very lively characteristics. It is actually really hard to point out which certain part alone change my views about the issues the most because my views got shocked only when the entire story connected together. Each character in the performance has its struggle and pressure. Initially, when I saw Meyer, the manager of the shoe factory, oppressing his labours, all the blames went to him, while later Meyer argued that he also has no choice to do so because of the pressure given by those upper class customers. Similarly, Brother Casgrain, the representation of authority at that time, should have played as a righteous role, commanded Talbot to cover the reason why he fought the priest and then lied to the public, otherwise he would ruin the life of both Talbot and his brother Leo. These scenes all change my views to the issue displayed in the performance, making me doubt what the truth look like indeed and think over the relationship of cause and effect. The performance allows me to connect it with my own life. Should I be Sarah Bernhardt in any case? Should I speak out the truth all the time? Well they are debatable, at least for me. Sarah Bernhardt in the performance actually gives me strong inspirations more than whether one should publicise the truth. That is, she is always playing herself. No matter what she looks like and what she does, she is in charge of her personality and belongs to herself. What has struggled me the most so far is whether I should be myself although somebody else might not like it, or whether I should fit myself into others' expectation for which I don't want to be. To answer that, I am encouraged by Sarah Bernhardt. I can be whatever, if I feel more comfortable with acting the role others expect I can be that because it is also my willingness, but if I want to do myself I can also be like that. Either is my true identity.

right: credits to Eric Scobie (https://scobonixxx.blogspot.com/2013/07/interview-with-brian-from.html)

Theatre originates from ancient Greece and serves as a platform for collection of roman culture. It is not hard to see that historically, theatre is part of the culture that includes festivals, politics, and religion beliefs and sort. In my perspective, one of the reasons theatre can be well developed during the long history civilisations is that theatre has been a mirror for people, reflecting themselves in an artsy way. At least for me, I can always find myself in the characters in theatre. Another is that theatre is a place to release emotional tensions. Either way can be understood as a Katharsis, which is both physical and mental purification. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is a great example of katharsis. With the chance of Good Life, I decided to spend the weekend that I would usually choose to lie down going to the theatre for a performance. This performance is meaningful for me in two ways. On one hand, I am able to escape from the busy life and sit in the auditorium to relax myself, getting relieved through music and art. The hours I spent in the theatre are worthwhile, I not merely immerged myself in the historical story of the play, but reflected on myself on it, which is the other reason why this play can be taken as Katharsis. In this play, I saw several traits that human beings have, such as Meyer's greed, Madeleine's innocence, Michaud's justice and so on, and their consequences accordingly. This play not merely visualises the history, but also looks forward into the future. That is, the spiritual cleaning.

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