The 'Divine' Performance By laurel Swiderski

The Spatial Experience...

Standing outside the Constans Theatre post-play

Having plenty of friends majoring in theater here at UF and having gone to many plays elsewhere in the past, I was rather unfazed by the theater's space and outlay. I was not overwhelmed or shocked by any means by the actual theater itself, but I did find myself drawn to the beautiful stained-glass background on the stage for 'The Divine' specifically. It added a depth to the theater, and the wooden frame along the curtain-line helped contribute to the rustic feel it also brought to the theater. Seat location wise, I had little idea just how important our seats would be when I chose them. My friend and I were given the option to either sit in the normal rowed seating, or in the front off to the left where we would have no one in front. Since I am short, I went for the seat in the front without question. However, the seat provided more than simply a clear view. The actors and actresses occasionally came out from the door to our left and would perform right in front of us, allowing me to see their costume design better and feel more connected with the play. It made the play more real and tangible to me. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I originally felt ready to simply get the play over with, considering I am more of a musical person than serious play watcher and had lots to do after the play's end. However, I found every time the lights would dim and then relight as the play went on to be far more significant. They seemed to mark how much further I dug into the plot, and how much more I grew to love the play and ignore what I had to do later. In terms of place in the Good Life, I believe that place is what sets the stage for how we create ourselves. Your environment controls how you see the world and how you feel you should act to fit into it. The space around you can lead you to act in certain ways and influence your decisions based on matters of convenience and safety. In the case of 'The Divine', the place the play was held called on the audience to respect the art form presented to them and listen to the words being spoken. Place grabs attention to matters of importance, and when the Good Life search consists of having to find yourself and what makes life meaningful, it is incredibly key to be able to be in tune with your surroundings so that you can grow personally from the benefits they offer.

The Social Experience...

Kayla & I before the show!

The idea to go to the play on opening night was a joint effort between my friend Kayla and I. We wanted originally to quote 'get going over with' so that we could go to the Florida Museum of Natural History and The Harn the next day without worry. We made a night out of it, going out before the play to eat so that we could not be hungry during it and get distracted. While we went in to basically support each other through what we were not sure would be a good play or not, we realized that going together actually provided the ability for further discussion of the play. In between acts and scenes, Kayla and I would discuss what we saw, clarify anything we did not understand, and also make jokes about anything we found funny. Also, going with Kayla turned out to enhance the comedy of some of the jokes about the Catholic Church, as we both went to Catholic School our entire life and picked up on certain jokes that would never have been laughed over if I were to have gone with a friend who had not experienced that as well. All in all, going with a friend like Kayla made the experience an enjoyable event that I fully understood and could discuss after the play's end. Shared experiences have the place in the Good Life as a way that we as people are able to not only form bonds between others, but also gain better ideas of who we are as individuals. For example, Kayla and I bonded over the Catholic jokes and the experience of going to see the play in person, while I learned from her and she learned from me the different ways we perceived the messages of the play. By sharing an experience, you grow attached to those sharing the experience with you and allow the others to help shape the person that you are through interactions. Shared experiences allow us to see the Good Life through the perspective of not just ourselves, but also through the perspectives of others.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience...

Kayla & I with some of the cast on opening night!

I like to believe that plays serve as cleverly disguised mirrors of society that stand the test of time. The main issue focused on in this story in my opinion was the withholding of the truth to maintain status. While there were many issues presented in the play such as the covering up of priests molesting young boys, the terrible working conditions of women and children in workshops, or the strife of actors/actresses, they all tied back to some withholding of the truth made necessary to maintain ideas of status or success. Before attending the performance, I knew little to none about what the play was about. After seeing it, I sadly could know for sure that I was not unaware of the issues presented. Being Catholic, I remember all too well hearing about the corruption of some priests or even higher men of faith mistreating young boys and covering it up. Being a lover of history, I also knew a lot about how factories were horrid places before regulations were put in to protect the workers. Lastly, being a lover of the theater with theater friends, I knew fairly well just how theater can move an audience, and how much work goes into having to put on a performance of worth. The play did not really change my views on any of these subjects, but rather strengthened and intensified them. The play made me more aware of the corruption within the Church's past and the need for such men of faith to not let their 'power' lead them away from their duty to act as Men of God. It made me more saddened by the old conditions of past workers, and concerned over whether or not such hardships still go on today unjustly. It made me see even clearer how important theater is as a medium, in terms of enjoyment value and in terms of conveying a message to society. Lastly, this play ultimately made me realize even more fervently how important the maintaining of the truth is to allowing change and progress to be made. The subject matter unfortunately does have a relationship to something happening in my own life. I see all over the media today the rejection of the truth in the forms of 'alternate facts' and unfound calls of 'lies' when someone does not agree with a fact presented to them. I hear from our president that the media is not to be trusted, and that any media not praising every thing he does is a farce meant to sway people to dislike him. I am a Public Relations major intending to be a social media manager, so I generally keep myself very up to date on both media and facts, as the upkeep of such directly affects my ability to do my job properly. I find myself when I hear the dismissal of truths by the president much in the place of Sarah Bernhardt when the Church told her to not perform in their city. Much like how she was being rejected because they simply did not feel her words and performances were good or 'wholesome' enough to have any place in their city, I feel sometimes like the truths that I come across or the media platforms I have come to research and master are simply rejected because they do not always say what the president/his supporters like to hear or agree with. I simply, in the way Sarah wishes to see the theater in all its glory and truth, wish to see the truth portrayed in all fashions on media to its full extent, without outside pressures trying to keep the unflattering or unhappy truths hidden.

The Emotional Experience...

Examining the program before the play

As I sort of mentioned in my previous response, The Divine provided a good way to get out the frustration over injustices such as withholding/disbelief of the truth, molestation of young boys in the Church, and unfair/inhumane working conditions. By portraying all of these injustices in such a blunt, raw, and emotional way, The Divine allowed for audience members to come face to face with what we only pretend doesn't exist or what we push to the back of our mind because it makes us uncomfortable. The play brought the ugly truths to the forefront and made us, like I said in my previous response, view ourselves and our society through a cleverly disguised mirror. It shoved our flaws in our face and showed the consequences so as to leave us with a choice: continue ignoring our problems and face similar gruesome fates as presented in the play, or take action and make changes for the better to prevent such injustices from leading to such tragedies.

Created By
Laurel Swiderski

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