The Divine: A Story for Saran Bernhardt Reflection and analysis by Mary Alice Klenk

The Constans Theatre is beautifully built, and strategically placed in the center of campus for ease of access. Before entering the building, we passed by a dance studio filled with hard working dancers. The floor to ceiling windows allowed passers to take part in the beauty of the art taking place inside. The Constans itself is inviting, and easy to navigate. Upon entering the theater, I was greeted by colorful art that sits near the front windows (if you enter from the street). The auditorium is bigger than I had thought it would be. Overall, it's a warm atmosphere. The dark colors of the stage, walls, etc. give a relaxing tone that allows viewers to feel comfortable in their seats. I was surprised how close the seats were to the stage. They had all of the students fill the front rows first, and even though I was four or five rows back, I still felt like I was nearly on the stage. During the performance this made me feel fully immersed in the narrative. At some points of the play actors and actresses went between seating sections, which actually took me out of the immersion, because they were behind me. The quiet, dark setting builds anticipation, and almost makes it feel like you're alone in the theater. For some people, happiness is tied to a place. Often times, this place brings them joy or reminds them of a particularly nice time of their life. By going back to this place, an individual can access the emotions that they original had there.

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I attended the play with a friend of mine. Neither of us regularly attend plays, or really ever attends plays, so we were unsure what to expect. I felt that the best way to absorb the play was to have some background on it before seeing it, so I read the study guide, which gives an overview and character analysis. This was actually extremely helpful, because in knowing some of the characters beforehand, I was able to focus on smaller details that often get lost in the first view of something. By attending the play with my friend, I was able to see his initial reactions to the scenes. During intermission, we were able to discuss the first half of the play, and it was interesting to hear his take on it. It's a beautiful concept that everyone can watch the same thing and have different perspectives on it. This concept applies to all aspects of life. Through sharing experiences, we can mutually feel joy. There's a sense of safety that accompanies community, and it's clear that humans need that connection with others to live happily. Even the most "successful" people often say that human interaction is what gives them strength.

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The play itself was extremely thought provoking. The first half is basically set-up which leads to the climax that occurs in the second half. There are many issues addressed in this play. Talbot, one of the main characters, is the victim of child molestation by a priest whom he trusted. He has to decide whether or not to tell the police and be a victim for the rest of his life. The Church authority in Quebec City dictates what people think by banning books, plays, and other forms of art. It stunts creativity in the area, which Sarah Bernhard points out near the end of the play. Through Brother Casgrain and the archbishop, the church is trying to silence Talbot by offering a better life for his family, who are relying on him. They say it's his duty to protect the image of the church, and throughout the play Talbot struggles with what they're telling him to do. He does everything that he can't do as a priest (sex, drugs, gambling) to fight the choice that he eventually makes (to lie). The play also criticizes child labor, and consumers not asking questions about where their products come from as long as they're cheap. While doing this (the scene where the adults are sitting in the factory), the play is criticizing the futility of talking about an issue while it's occurring (they're talking about how terrible child labor is while a boy literally dies beneath their feet). By seeing these situations play out before me, I gained perspective on them. For example, I looked at the injustice of oppression and power, which had only been a foreign concept to me beforehand.

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This play is rich with social commentary and character development, which could be discussed for hours, and that's exactly the point. A play is successful if it is discussed and analyzed and remembered. If a play can teach us something, while keeping us engaged, it has done its job. This play discusses many less than happy situations, and yet we enjoy it as much as any happy ending, because it is eye opening. Sarah, who originally comes across as self-consumed, actually turns into an inspirational character who gives Michaud perspective. We, as viewers, parallel Michaud's journey of naivety to understanding. We feel his emotions when he finally realizes what the truth of the world is, and we, like him, leave when the play is over and decide to be different, to question more, to look at life a different way.

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