The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Chelsea-Paige Service

A picture of the performance found online at https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/stage/2015/07/25/the-divine-a-play-for-sarah-bernhardt-holds-harrowing-moments-but-doesnt-quite-jell-review.html

The Spatial Experience

The Spatial Experience: Describe your experience of the physical setting of the theatre. For example: What were your feelings when you entered the building or the auditorium? How did your seat location affect your experience? How did you feel when the lights dimmed and the audience quieted? How did the size of the auditorium contribute to your experience? What is the role of place in the Good Life?

Upon entering the Constans theatre, I was very excited to see what inside was like because it was my first time visiting the theatre and to my surprise, it was bigger than I thought it would have been. When I first entered the building, I saw different art pieces that interested me as it gave me the feeling of a museum. I made sure that I sat in the center of the auditorium to get a good view and so I felt as if I got the full experience of the play. When I first sat down, I was anxious for the play to start because it was my first time watching a play in person. The auditorium was also not too big or too small which made me capture the experience better because I feel like the actors were able to connect more with the audience since everyone was so close. Place is important in the Good Life because depending on where you are in life, you could have a different perspective on an issue similarly to how somebody else might have had a different experience than I did when they entered the auditorium.

Picture of myself before entering the theatre.

The Social Experience

Describe your experience of attending the performance with friends and strangers. For example: With whom did you attend the performance? What did you do to get ready for the performance? How did attending with friends enhance your experience? What is the role of shared experiences in the Good Life?

To get ready for the performance, I read what was required of me for the assignment and before the performance began, I read the pamphlet that was given to me when I entered the theatre. The last thing I did was turn off my phone before the play started so I was neither being disturbed nor disturbing other people that were attending the play. I did not attend the performance with anybody. I did not attend the play with friends because they would have been a distraction however, I did meet up with my friends after the performance to take pictures and reflect on the performance. I preferred to share the experience with all my other classmates since we were all there for the same reasons. I don't think shared experiences have a very big role in the Good Life because I think it is better to experience certain things alone.

A picture that my friend took of me after the performance

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Describe how the performance helps you develop a new way of seeing and understanding our own culture. For example: Consider the time and place of the story. What was the central issue addressed in the performance? What did you know about the subject matter before attending performance? How did the performance change your views about the issues described in the performance? Does the subject matter have a relationship to something happening in your own life?

The play is set in 1905 in Quebec City, Canada and is centered around the lack of understanding of people's opinions, dreams, and desires. The play also focuses on the importance of art, business and religion based on one's perspective. I had some knowledge about the subject matter based on what I've read in history books about some of the similar issues that were happening in the 1900s such as child labor and working laws. The performance changed my view about the issues described because it made me realize that not everything people see on the surface is true. Additionally, a lot of times people are faced with situations where they are forced to make sacrifices whether it is to pursue a certain dream or to help their family. This was seen in the play when Talbot was forced to play victim for the betterment of his family as well as when Michaud went after his dream of being a playwright. I relate to the subject matter because as I am from a third-world country, I know what it is like for people to work hard and do things they might not want to do so that their family can be happy and try to emancipate themselves from the hardships and struggles of life.

A picture of the pamphlet I received as I entered the theatre

The Emotional Experience

As Dr. Pagán explains in her online lectures on the Antigone, theatre presents “topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, or culturally radical.” Theatre “gives the audience an opportunity to look at itself to examine its less-than-noble qualities and in the process to ‘come clean’ about what it means to be human and to be happy.” Katharsis is the Greek word for process of “coming clean.” How does The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provide us an opportunity for katharsis?

The play shows katharsis in many different ways. It was even mentioned in the talk back as one of the actors stated that elements of katharsis were seen in the play because the play shares stories that no one else is willing to tell. The actor mentioned that theatre and politics scare people and when confronted with sharing opinions, people are afraid to speak. The play provided an opportunity for katharsis when Talbot was being forced to play the victim of a crime and admit to theft when in reality he was a victim of sexual and emotional abuse. Even when Talbot got the opportunity to come clean and tell the truth, he refused because of the consequences he might have faced which would have led to his family continuing to struggle.

A picture of an abstract in the Constans Theatre

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