The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By: Jonathan Dominique

As per requirement of the IUF1000 course, I attended the showing of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt at the Constans Theater. The theater's entrance is comparably small with respect to the building which it is in and the auditorium which is in it. However, the quaint and small entrance to the auditorium served quite well to create an aire of sophistication and conservatism for the show. The inside of the theater was made in a way that where we were sitting was almost encircled by accessible stage for the actors. In the opening scene, the actors walked about our encircled seating area, and, with the added ambiance of the lighting and sound effects, made me feel as if I were within the world of the play, onlooking as a outside bystander. Place plays a big role in the pursuit of the good life. Having front row seats in the show allowed me to experience the show in a more intimate and appealing way, versus say individuals who had to sit further to the back of the theater. In life, sometimes being in the right place at the right time can allow an individual to have insight into what it is that they need in their lives in order to make it a good one. Conversely, being in the wrong place, especially at the wrong time, can cause an individual to lose their sight of the good life.

Image provided by Foresight Construction Group

When I went to the show, I ended up sitting alongside a complete stranger who was friendly, as are the majority of people at this school. Attending the show alone I believe inhibited me from enjoying the show as fully as I potentially could have otherwise. I am the type of person who enjoys sharing experiences with other people and consequently partaking in this experience without any friends to share my thoughts or feelings with made this experience less memorable than it could have been otherwise. To get ready for the performance, I actually did not do much besides dress up nicely and play a few games of chess at the chess club. I can imagine that attending the performance with a friend would have made it more enjoyable for me. In the pursuit of the good life, shared experiences plat a key role. Almost no one achieves the good life without having interacted with other people, and certainly when the good life is achieved it is not kept to one's self but rather it is shared with others in the hope that they too may find the good life.

A photo of Jonathan Dominique standing outside of the Constans Theater entrance with a program in his hand.

During the play, there was a persistent theme of poverty vs wealth, and a motif of self-revelation, understanding what exactly each person wanted for themselves in their own lives. Personally, I didn't relate the theme of it very much to the culture that I live in today due to the fact that there is just an incomparable difference in societies between then (1900's Quebec vs 21st century America). However, one thing that it did make me realize about my culture is the disparity of wealth from one class to the next. Our nation's wealthiest one percent has more wealth than the other 99 percent of us combined, a rather daunting and staggering statistic. I was aware of the overwhelming size of the poverty stricken population in most major cities around the world and was aware of the system of child labor as well as the extent to which it ran and the dangers it posed to those who it affected. Watching the play did not necessarily change my views on the play but rather reminded me of the grotesque past that once existed in the world and potentially still does in less developed parts of the world. Fortunately, the subject matter of the play has little to do with anything currently happening in my own life. However, every now and again, I come across those less fortunate than me who are in positions even worse than some of the poorer characters within the play.

Image provided by British Broadcasting Company

Watching a play like The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allows us to see in a more intimate and a slightly humorous way the harsh and brash nature of child labor, as well as the poor circumstances of poverty and the means by which those in poverty had to survive. It can allow individuals to come to terms with their own flaws and shortcomings, as well to find the flaws within society and hopefully work to help change them. The play gives us an opportunity for "katharsis" by bringing to light the assumedly eradicated issue of child labor. However, if anyone were impacted enough to research child labor after viewing the play, they'd come to know that the issue is still at large in many parts of the world despite efforts to prevent it. This play allows us to come to terms with that fact that while we are making progress, we still have many trivial problems to eradicate, and must each take action to do so. In effect, the theater, much like many forms of entertainment, can be used to show society its true ugliness, and allow it to face it in its entirety. It consequently can also urge its audience to go out, take action, and make a difference for the betterment of the world.

A young victim of child labor who lost both hands by amputation due to electrocution in the Indian state of Gujarat (Image provided by

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.