The Divine: A Play for Sara Bernhardt Project by kelsie Walker

The Spacial Experience: The theater was small and intimate. The contrast of the dark lights and red velvet seats and curtain imposed a comfort to me. I felt a warm swell pass over my body. I love the theatre. I sat in my seat on the far right just watching the room fill with bodies. My view of the stage was excellent, not too far and not too close, although at times when the actors that appeared on the left of the stage there was a short disconnect but it was never long lasting. When the lights dimmed, my heart skipped a beat and I got tunnel vision as if I was the only one watching the show. The stage wasn’t massive which made the theatre seem cozy, but I like that and it made the theatrics of the characters more dramatic and intense. I had to constantly remind myself I wasn’t alone in the room, that there was other people surrounding me. Each person was watching the same thing I was except we all saw it differently just like we all are living but experience and see it all differently. Place is essential to the Good Life because it gives perspective and diversity. We have to appreciate what we are seeing in life and also appreciate how others see it as well, this gives diversity to the human race. We also have to recall that places are always temporary, we are changing and moving from one place to another by steps or by miles. There may be places we don’t necessarily love and there may be places you never want to leave. We grow and discover parts of ourselves when we find these places.

The Social Experience: An hour prior to start time I pulled clothes out of my closet, threw some on my bed, tried on at least five other outfits until I found one I liked, painted makeup on my face, slipped on my heels, and started to walk out the door. I went by myself, it wasn’t intentional I’m just independent and honestly I wanted to go by myself. Going by myself I was able to give my honest opinion about it and not have to worry if my friends didn’t understood my love of the performance or ask me to leave when I really wouldn’t want to. It let me be me and experience it on my own accord. When I sat down I automatically began to talk to the guy next to me and ironically he was good friends with one of my friends from my small hometown. That put me more at ease, knowing I wasn’t sitting next to a complete stranger the whole play. It also intertwines the idea of sharing that experience of the play. The role of shared experiences in the Good Life adds meaning to your life because you’re not going to always remember what you were doing but who you were with. Half of the things I have done wouldn’t have been nearly as funny if I had done it by myself, but it the blue times of my life I wouldn’t have been able to smile as much without my friends. ‘Doing life’ and sharing experiences with people allow us to not feel so alone, celebrate big, and laugh so hard you almost pee- those are the moments I will cherish the most and that’s what makes the ‘good life’ remarkable.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: Throughout school, my history teachers have always said that they teach what they teach so people don’t forget, so they don’t forget what real people experienced and so that it doesn’t happen again. The play was just another way to teach that exact lesson; the performance exposed the unregulated child labor laws as well as domestic sexual abuse, class-ism, importance of the arts, and passion. I knew about the 1900’s and the hardships that America had experienced because of the transition from World War I and the rapid growth of industrialization, so I knew the general idea of what the play addressed. However, in history you saw a picture and read about a first hand account someone had experienced or a famous person who was able to overcome and fight for these issues, but we never saw the event unfold in front of our eyes. The performance enabled me to associate emotion to these people rather than just a sympathetic attitude because I knew it was a terrible thing that happened to them. Pictures from the textbooks came to life and took the form of real 3-D humans that had emotions, dreams, tears, and experiences that I finally could see. I realized these are the people that we want to remember, we don’t need to just remember what happened to people but who those people were in those times. The subject matter doesn’t necessarily remind me of a certain instance at a time in my life but I think every so often I think about the importance of passion and having to fight the battle of not just doing something because you should or because you’re told to, but doing something that is important to your heart. Anything that drives you and inspires you is going matter, so what you do does matter. Michaud struggled with this, his choice between seminary and his passion for play-writing. Ultimately, he followed his heart and ran with it.

The Emotional Experience: There is magic in the theatre. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt strips down the bias and superfluous societal views, and we are able to breathe something new, something that’s not out of a textbook, something that’s not just being told to us, but to have consciousness along a journey that’s before our eyes. The magic is the feelings we get from seeing the scenes disentangle: the gut wrenching feeling of knowing what happened to Talbot, the heartbreak of unreciprocated love of a mother, the dramatic irony of the death of a brother, and the powerlessness we have over the ignorance of society to ones in need. The performance didn’t hold anything back, it was plainly blunt, and it was refreshing. I feel like we either tiptoe around issues or preach about the repercussions of a certain topic, not the topic itself and The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provided catharsis for those built up emotions that sometimes cloud out our thoughts. It allowed the audience to bleed out that fervor and that proves we are alive.

Credits:

All Pictures are my own excluding the Header Picture which has no copyright from Flickr.

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