The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt A Story of injustice, ADULTERY AND Morality

The Spatial Experience

Constans theatre entrance and lobby

Upon arriving at the theater my first impression was influenced more by the people than by the place itself. Seeing everyone dressed in a semiformal manner gave the theater a more genuine and serious feel. The various sculptures and decorations outside the theater also help set a mood of formality while at the same time expressing its cultural and historical background. After entering the room, I was fortunate enough to sit right in front of the left wing of the stage, giving me a much closer look of the action. This became especially true at the very beginning of the play when Sarah Bernhardt suddenly appeared from the door right next to were I sat followed by a crowd of journalists and photographers. At times I almost felt like I could be part of the play as if I could just confer with the characters. The broad yet inclusive scenery that the theater offered made my experience a very enjoyable and engaging one.

The Social Experience

Priya Behera and Christal Odum granted me permission to use their pictures.

I first arrived at the performance with my friend Priya Behera, who also helped me dress up for for the occasion and search the prompts that we needed to follow for the assignment; however, right before entering the theater I encountered one of my fellow crew team members, Christal Odum, who was also on her way to see the play. Having this pleasant surprise, I was not only able to enjoy the performance with them, but also hear their different opinions about the plot line of the story after leaving the theater. When it comes to achieving the good life, one must first have good company to spend it with. Social interactions play a huge role when it comes to the enjoyment of either a play, movie, sport etc. For the most part, even though everyone has different preferences, it is always more pleasurable to experience a special event when one has the right people at one's side.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Situated in the 1900's in Quebec City, then one of the most crowded and industrialized cities of Canada, the play embodies many of the challenges and cultural aspects of the region. Its early settlement of catholic missionaries made this the main religion of the city; therefore, the city's values, legislations and even its books and plays were controlled by its catholic faith. In addition to this, as a direct effect of the rapid industrialization, the invention of the first wireless radio broadcast and construction the second transcontinental railway, Quebec city began to experience the arrival of foreign influences and immigrants from other provinces as well as countries. Having the knowledge of the city's background in mind, the play's main themes deal with the influences of religion on a community's morals and values along with the social inequality that surged from the vast discrepancy between the rich and poor. Talbot's character as a seminarian and victim of sexual abuse, displays much of the hypocrisy of morals that the play emphasizes. Being a culprit of a much heavier crime, Talbot's abuser is not even punished by the city in comparison to Sarah Bernhardt's play. The lack of regulation of working conditions and the ceaseless industrialization are other factors that show much about the ethicality of the play. The factory owner, having been indirectly the murderer of several children in the play is also disregarded by the uninterested views of a capitalistic and consumerist society towards its workers. In a way, our current society still experiences these kind of problems. The majority of products are fabricated by very low resourced people who experience the abuse of multi-million national companies. Moreover, the unreported and unpunished cases of sexual abuse done by either religious institution or human trafficking gangs is an omnipresent issue that few acknowledge in their day to day lives.

The Emotional Experience

A mix of melancholy and despondency overtook me after watching the ending of the play.

The ending of the play deeply overwhelms its audience with a river of emotions that range from dismay to gratification. In spite of all the terrible tragedies and sorrowful tales that each character presents, there is a glint of hope to achieve a better society. The death of Tabolt's younger brother and his decision to rip the letter that Michaud had handed to him to alert the authorities of his abuse situation created a great sense of discouragement to the viewer. In a way, the audience is fully represented by the character of Michaud, who constantly views Tabolt as a hero that will avenge not only his family, but also himself; yet, as the story progresses, Michaud only finds disappointment when his thoughts differ from Tabolt's actions. Nevertheless, Michauds decisive act of quitting the seminary and handing in his letter reporting Tabolt's case of abuse provide the moment of katharsis that cleases the audience from part of the negativity and unfairness that Tabolt's character and his family receives, while at the same time denouncing the church as a corrupt institution and its immoral actions.

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