The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Daria Bulatnikova IUF sec. 083H

A theater in my hometown, Yoshkar-Ola. Link:

What is the role of place in the Good Life? My experience at the Constans Theatre was rather satisfactory. The atmosphere was very welcoming, but, unlike Russian theaters that developed my appreciation of theatrical art, lacked architectural beauty: the modern design served its purpose offering space and a comfortable seat to please the physical desire for comfort while I would also like to see patterned molding, columns, paintings, sculptures of Greek muses and curvy staircases to also please my desire for aesthetic satisfaction. My seat was in the second row which may seem a bit too close, because actors' voices were sometimes too loud and their gestures too amplified, although it allowed to observe their facial expressions and each part of the stage in a great detail. As far as the audience concerned, I was lucky to seat around people who came to enjoy the play instead of just 'completing their assignment'. It was disappointing to see people leave during the intermission or complain about the length of the play: I wish my generation learned how to appreciate classical forms of performance more.

I watched the play with my friends from both the section and other classes. I was glad to go with them because we had a chance to discuss and communicate our impressions after the play ended. Moreover, It was very interesting to see how differently everyone dressed up. To me, theater is a social event that requires certain etiquette. It is unacceptable to attend a performance in jeans or flip flops, therefore I wore casual pants, a blouse and a blazer. Overall, it was a very interesting comparison of two cultures' attitude to 'the theater' as a social and cultural event. Sharing my own view and experience with others has definitely helped to outline my own an others understanding of it better.

I found the play to be an accurate emotional and societal reflection of the early 1900s in the United States: developing power of art, controversial role of religion, oligarchy v. poverty, redefinition of 'self' as a citizen, as a human being. I was quite informed of the context and that allowed me to explore an emotional depth of the play and unique conflicts between and withing characters. Two biggest central themes in which I found my own reflection were religion and the problem of addressing social and else issues through art. I would not say that my views were changed but I was definitely reminded of my own values and morals. It was especially interesting to see how Michaud's desire to write a play was not approved by his religious master because Michaud's idea was scandalous and against the societal norms. I guess it is something I often battle within myself: whether to be orthodox and please the majority or choose a different path of action and self-expression that will offer an alternative view.

In my opinion, The Divine is a good opportunity to look at yourself and the society and ask a question "Am I perfect? Am I treating everyone fairly? Do I know enough to make judgments? Are we as a humanity sane?" The play makes one uncomfortable multiple times, but this discomfort comes as a sharp shrieking portrayal of truth we often hide behind the curtains even today, in the 21st century. The play also makes one uncomfortable as a form of art: sometimes too exposed, too fake, too many times recited, so it looks unnatural, yet presents us with a chance to appreciate the art of movement, the art of words and the art of literature. It was cathartic to realize that I'm experiencing 'Ah!' to certain words, facial expressions, plot twists just because I am exposed to it on purpose; what prevents me from appreciating it in everyday life? It challenges they way one looks at life, at issues that we often see irrelevant to our own selves. The play for me became an unspoken confession of my own silence to what I see around and yet do not react. it was truly beautiful and inspirational.

The photo i posted on my instagram after watching the play with a caption "Reconnecting in solitude with the World and self"
Created By
Daria Bulatnikova

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