The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Megan Bohan

The Spatial Experience: The Constans Theatre is located in the Reitz Union. It doesn't allow the simple person who passes by to get a glimpse in, but this is what adds to the magic for the first time walking in. I have been in once before with my sister, to attend a West African dance recital. However, when walking into the theatre I couldn't help but feel excited all over again. There is a certain relaxing, yet exciting atmosphere when walking into the dimly lit theatre and seeing the set for the first time. My two friends and I were directed to sit on the far left side. We felt as if this was a bad thing at first but it proved to not be an issue. The theatre is designed so that every person gets the same quality of performance, no matter what seat they're in. When the lights dimmed, I was excited and eager to see what would happen first and how a student play would be. The size of the auditorium was not noticeably small or large. I have been to other theaters that have been way larger and way smaller. I felt as if it fit the size of the crowd well. Place has a lot to do with Good Life for some places, like the theatre, just have an awe-inspiring affect on you. You can't help but feel subject to the grand atmosphere around you and for those 2 or 2 and a half hours you are immersed in a different world.
The Social Experience: These are my two friends that I attended the performance with. My friend from high school, Reo, is on the left, while my roommate, Lorea, is on the right. To get ready for the performance, Lorea and I just put on nicer clothes and shoes. We also did the required "before going to the performance" section of the assignment. It was much more enjoyable to attend the performance with my friends because we were able to talk about the play during intermission and after the show as well as make it a fun social outing rather than an assignment. Shared social experiences also plays a large role in the Good Life for being able to make new memories with my friends is a direct path to happiness. My experience with the play and the general outing was greatly enhanced by the company of my friends.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The play takes place in Quebec City in December of 1905. Michaud, a young, bright-eyed seminarian, writes his first play and dedicates it to his role-model, Sarah Burnhardt, who happens to be visiting his city. The central issue of the play revolves around Talbot, a troubled seminarian. Michaud writes much of his play off of Talbot's troubled past for it is juicy and golden for the theatre. However, revealed information about Talbot proves to become too much for Michaud and he begins to realize that he must to more to help than just write his play. Discovering Talbot's big secret, that he was sexually abused by a priest, marks a shift in Michaud's character, and changed my view on the issue at hand. All of a sudden it became very important to help Talbot deal with this situation and the weight fell on Michaud's shoulders. Michaud realized that there is corruption in the world and that it is often times not talked about and can be closer than you can even imagine. I did not know much about subject matter like this before the play for I have never experienced, or had anyone tell me they have experienced something like this before.
The Emotional Experience: The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt absolutely supports Dr. Pagán's claim that "theatre presents topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, or culturally radical" and allows the audience to come clean, or experience "katharsis", and examine themselves. This play is centered around a seminarian who was sexually abused by a priest. This is why he doesn't wish to become a priest, however he doesn't know how to say no for his mother and little brother have worked so hard to be able to send him to school in hopes that his holiness will bring their family some purpose, relief, and dignity. Topics such as sexual abuse are socially uncomfortable, especially when it is within a religious setting. Likewise, there is political tension for Sarah Burnhardt's visit to perform her show is forbidden by the Grand Priest, raising tension within the people of the town as well as Sarah herself. People want to go see her perform, but the church will now allow it due to its nature. All of this allows a level of katharsis, or coming clean, for the audience for although we might not be able to relate directly to the issues at hand, we can all recall a time of tension when we wanted to do something that was against what our respected mentors told us was acceptable. Or a time in which a humiliating event was kept a secret simply because it seemed to be more trouble to share than to just forget about it. This play exposed an element of human nature that we aren't necessarily proud of. However, allowing the viewers to watch and relate to the play at least helps them become aware of this nature and allows a sense of katharsis.

All images taken by Megan Bohan, or saved from Google Image searches for "theatre" and "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt".

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