The Spatial Experience
The Constans Theater is tucked in the side of the Reitz Union, so I was not sure what to expect when I arrived. When I entered the lobby, I was greeted by a carpeted space with tasteful art that helped put me in a calm state of mind to watch a play. The theater itself was bigger than I expected, but it was small enough to feel like an intimate experience. I sat toward the back of the theater along a side wall and I felt like this gave me a great view of everything that was going on throughout the performance regardless of where the audience’s attention was meant to be drawn. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I was excited yet relaxed. I felt like the physical aspects of the Constans Theater did a wonderful job preparing individuals to experience a performance.
A view of the lobby before entering the Constans Theater
The Social Experience
I went to this performance with my roommate and we went out to dinner before the play and then sat with a few other people in our row once we got to the theater. To get ready for the play, we cleaned up and went to eat beforehand to clear our minds of other worries and relax to better appreciate what we were going to watch. Attending this play with my roommate not only gave me a ride to the theater, but it gave us an opportunity to discuss what we were seeing during intermission and immediately after we left. We also read the informational pamphlet and we were able to discuss everything we were learning to get a better understanding of it all. I think that experiencing this play with a friend added value that couldn’t be achieved in the same way with just strangers and it was less distracting than going with a large group.
Leaving the Constans Theater with a friend
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt is set in Quebec City in the early twentieth century. It examined an array of issues including class, the abuse of power and manipulation of the weak. It focused particularly on a working class Catholic family working to push their son through seminary. The play highlighted the power of the Church as an organization and manipulation on an individual level in the case of priests and brothers within the seminary. It also touted theater as an intellectual outlet and an escape from the supposed tyranny of the Church. I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic school, so I knew quite a bit about this subject before the play. While it is widely understood that many scandals in the Church have taken place over its long history, I felt that portraying it as an enemy of the arts was odd. The priests and Catholic teachers I grew up with were always strong supporters of the arts in general and I even attended several plays with some of them. This play did not change my views on the arts or the Church, but it confused me a little regarding the basis of this accusation because throughout the history of the Church it has always been involved with the arts and is even responsible for inspiring many great masterpieces. I don’t think this play relates directly to anything currently happening in my life, but I will certainly do some more research on some of the topics in the play.
The Emotional Experience
This performance affected more emotionally more than I expected before I saw it. I found myself clinging to some anger and confusion as the play seemed to attack the Church that I have known to be a loving and caring entity. I felt some relief after the play during the talk back portion, however, when some of the actors discussed deeper themes. This made the scenes in the performance seem less like blatant attacks and more as vessels to convey a broader message. The message of respecting people regardless of social class and being conscious of how we use our power and authority is a universal theme with which I certainly agree. I think The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provided an excellent opportunity for katharsis because it incited self-reflection after demonstrating how easily we can patronize those less fortunate than us and take for granted the opportunities and gifts that we have been given in our own lives.
Outside the entrance to the lobby of the Constans Theater
"Sarah Bernhardt." Alchetron. N.p., 18 Jan. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. <https://alchetron.com/Sarah-Bernhardt-1176287-W>.
"SMG Theater Photo." Pantherparents.com. N.p., 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. <http://pantherparents.com/index.php/2016/08/29/smg-theater-back-for-year-2/>.