The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Kavitha Komatineni

INTRODUCTION

This was taken right before I walked into Constans theater. Knowing nothing about The Divine: A Play for Sarah BernHardt I wasn't sure what to expect. This was the first play I had seen in years and the feeling i felt when I sat in the chair was indescribable. I can honestly say this was a beautiful production and it taught me more than I expected.
The Spacial Experience: When I first entered Constans Theater I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. The hallway before you enter the actual theater has two entrances, one for bag check ins and another for tickets. Growing up I haven't been to many theaters and in the last five years I've only been to small shows in my tiny high school, so walking into the Constans theater I was excited and filled with anticipation for what was to come. Entering the auditorium the lights were dim but I could clearly see the set up of the stage. As I followed the ushers and sat where they placed me, the uncertainty of how the play was going to begin intrigued me. The six beds on the stage made me wonder what they would be used for and what they meant. Although I expected the auditorium to be larger I enjoyed how small it was. The moment the play begin I could hear everyone hush and there was complete silence. I could feel that the smaller the theater the more intimate the experience. I think the role that place plays in the Good life is far more important than we realize. The place or setting of anywhere we go is vital to how we experience life. Places evoke emotions in anything we do whether they evoke positive or negative experiences.
The Social experience: Originally, I had planned to meet up with one of my friends at the theater but due to time conflicts I ended up going alone. Unfortunately I had to catch the play directly after one of my classes so I didn't get to prepare for the show beforehand. Although I didn't attend the show with anyone I left with two individuals I met while sitting next to them. We bonded throughout the show and we all left amazed and pleased with the performance. I think shared experiences are extremely valuable to the good life. To me, sharing happy or even sad experiences with the people we love is more than important to the good life. We have to surround our life with loved ones no matter how great or how poor the experiences are.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: At first, I wasn't prepared to recognize the multiple issues that would be hidden beneath the surface of the play, but not too long after the play begin I noticed the theme of class separation, social oppression, moral obligations, and hypocrisy. From the start of the play, the theme of class is put in place by the meeting between the privileged Michaud and the underprivileged Talbot. The fundamental differences between the two are carried throughout the play and these differences highlight the underlying social oppression. In addition to this, the characters throughout the play must struggle with their own personal morals and ethics and there are countless times in which individuals have to sacrifice their wants and needs in order to achieve their perception of the good life. Michaud must hide his passion for the theater to protect his position in the church and Talbot must struggle with his own shame of "victimization" to protect the people he cares about and himself. This idea of sacrificing ourselves for the good of something or someone else is relatable to all of us. Personally, I like to think I have sacrificed my own wants for the betterment of the people I care about. This play specifically taught me more about that than I expected.
The Emotional Experience: I believe The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides us an opportunity for katharsis based on how the play is framed from the start. As a play within a play The Divine becomes a somewhat self-aware play. Within the play, The Divine provides a social commentary on the social discrepancies between class and culture and uses art to communicate to the audience an understanding of the issues at hand. It's this fundamental base of the play that allows the audience to see the true meaning of katharsis. In the end, Michaud for example expanded his horizons and embraced the drama in his life only to uncover truths he never would have found before. Towards the end of the play, although the class differences are not fully erased we witness a katharsis between the characters and ourselves. We see the internal changes within Michaud and Talbot and as a result we ignite the ability for change within ourselves.

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