The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt By Lorea Jackson

The Spacial Experience: When I first walked in to the Constans Theater, I did not expect to be greeted by such an elaborate, beautiful set. The complexity and attention to detail of it, along with the beautiful colors added by the stained-glass windows in the background, made me much more excited for the play than I had been. Although my seat was moderately close to the stage, I was seated in the far left wing of the theater by the usher. At first I was disappointed that I would not have a straight-on view of the play, but it ended up not making much of a difference. In fact, it was actually really cool when the journalists all rushed down the aisles at the beginning of the play, as they came right near me. I don't think the size of the theater had too much of an impact on my viewing experience, as I was close enough to the stage that I wouldn't have even known if the room ended immediately behind me or went on to three times its actual size.

The Social Experience: I attended the performance with my roommate, Megan (shown in the picture on the title page). To prepare, we watched the video on Canvas, then read through the playbook before the show started to learn more about the background of the play. I really enjoyed seeing it with her, because we were able to discuss the play and our interpretations and feelings towards it in depth during the time it took to walk from the theater back to our dorm. Personally, I love to see plays and movies with other people, but not too large of a group. I always want to discuss what I just saw after the end of the show, but when there are too many people, everyone just shouts their opinions over everyone else's, and no one actually listens. When you go with only one or two others, it is much easier to have an in-depth discussion afterwards, and I experienced that with Megan. In my opinion, shared experiences such as these are a strong way to bond with other people, as well as a great way to strengthen relationships, whether it's being able to gush about your favorite parts together or debating over the intention of a certain character at a point in the story.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: Before seeing The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, I did not know very much about life in the early 1900s, especially not life in Quebec City. I was aware of the grotesque pattern of priests physically and emotionally abusing young seminaries in the church, mostly due to Tom McCarthy's film Spotlight that came out in 2015. I was also aware of the inhumane conditions in sweatshops like the one featured in The Divine, but experiencing one up close and personal in the play was harrowing. Although I can't directly relate to the play, as I thankfully have never been sexually abused, I'm glad it discussed that topic so openly, especially since it's considered so taboo. The more people are aware of how frequent sexual abuse is in our society, the better chances there are of something being done to stop it.

The Emotional Experience: This play provided an important katharsis by giving us, the students of UF, an opportunity to really discuss sexual and emotional abuse, and their implications on both individuals and society. Without this play, that sticky, uncomfortable conversation probably would never start on its own. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt gave us both as individuals and as a student body important things to think about and to talk about.


I took the picture on the title page.

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