During the play, I had many roles. I was supposed to get there at 5:00 every night to start making sure that all of the costumes were there. Some of the actors have 3-4 different costume changes. That was my role! To help with costume changes, hair, and any immediate repairs. This is my experience of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt.
My spatial experience dealt mostly with the dressing room. Rows of mirrors, makeup, and costumes is what i saw every night for 3 weeks. In my experience, this was such a powerful place to be because I got to witness and assist the actors in the transition from themselves, to the role that they were playing. In the dressing room, I was able to hear the play being performed in the theater, which allowed me to use my imagination as to what the actors were doing. As a crew member, the most exciting time was when the crowd would do things together. Whether that be silence, or laugh, or cheer, it was all so powerful in that it hyped the actors to do better, and even me to be the most helpful I could have been. For myself and the actors, the theater is a place where you can truly express yourself. Personally, I believe that being able to pursue your greatest desire (i.e performing on the stage) is the definition of the good life.
For me, I was able to create friendships with all of the actors. We now have inside jokes, pictures together, and future plans on hanging out with one another. I can personally say that I made great friendships with Cynthia, the actress who played Madeline, Tyler, the actor who played Leo Talbot, and quite frankly, all of the actors and actresses. In order to get ready for the performance each night I would start by checking in all of the costumes. Afterwards I would set the nightshirts on-stage for Diego (Talbot) and Jake (Michaud). Afterwards I would help Ms. Talbot with the back of her hair. Then I would help Naddya (journalism woman) with her hair. After that I would prep Cynthia for her wig by pin curling her hair, putting on the wig cap, securing the wig cap, and then putting on her wig. After all of the hair was finished, I would start assisting the actors in their costumes, doing whatever they needed to help. At this time it would have been around 7:30, and the play would have been about to begin. Personally, I feel the good life is using what I have to help others, which I feel was demonstrated by my help with the actors, and the relationships I developed with them.
The play helped me define the way I saw history, women's oppression, the arts, and the severity of becoming a priest. The play really dug deep into how the women felt, and the awful working conditions is sweatshops. The women in the Divine (as well as the children) were pushed to their limits and treated like crap. Within the span of the play, three children died because of the sweat shop conditions. In regards to the arts, it was clear that the arts were seen (to the priests) as a very awful, and almost sinful thing. To the audiences during this time, the actors held a special place in their lives. For example, the journalists truly cared about what Sarah though, and were appalled by what she said. The severity of becoming a priest also showed through in a different light for me. Before, I though that choosing that lifestyle was that, a choice. After watching the play, it became clear that some people (like Talbot) became a priest for the thought of a better future. The only truly thing that I could relate to my own life was how special it is to be pursuing a career in the arts, and how while it may be a challenge, it will surely be worth it.
For me, emotionally, the play made my heart hurt. All of the pain that was present during the play honestly made me look back and see how lucky I was growing up, and how even though my parents were divorced, I didn't die young like Leo, and I wasn't forced to work in a sweat shop. It also showed that speaking my mind, as Sarah did, can benefit me, but it can also hurt me. So I should be careful about the things I do and say in everyday life as well as performing. The play as a whole served as a way of showing its audience members the correct (and possibly incorrect) ways of "coming clean," or expressing yourself.