The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt AND THE GOOD LIFE

The Spatial Experience

Me and my friend Allie eagerly anticipating the start of the play.

I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the theater upon first entering – it was large enough to mimic a venue a professional production might use, but small enough to feel intimate. The dim lighting and props on stage (such as the stain-glass window) set the mood and our excitement for the play. We were seated near the middle of the audience, which was a perfect spot. As the lights dimmed and audience quieted, I had a sudden feeling of eager anticipation because I had no idea what story was about to unfold right before my eyes. I think place plays a substantial role in the Good Life. We all have places that we escape to when we need time alone, enjoy sharing with the people we love, or that just feel like home. These places provide meaning for different aspects of our lives and make us who we are. Theater might be one person's safe place while the mountains might be another's.

The Social Experience

Having friends to attend the play with enhanced my overall experience immensely.

I attended The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt with my roommate, Amanda, and other friend that lives on my floor, Allie. To get ready for the performance, we went to breakfast together first and then helped each other decide what to wear. We walked to the Constans Theater from our dorm and all sat beside one another. Attending the play with two of my closest friends enhanced my experience by making it seem like a typical activity we might all do together – not just an assignment. We were able to discuss the play after we left since we all shared that experience together. I think shared experiences play a large role in the Good Life. Everything is better when you have someone you love by your side to appreciate it with. Friends are what make day-to-day experiences great and ultimately help you achieve the Good Life.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Allie and I exploring Constans Theater before the performance started.

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt takes place in Canada in the early 1900s and explores issues of poor working conditions in factories, the struggles of lower class families, and the central issue: church oppression. I am currently learning about industrialization and labor conflicts in American History; however, seeing a play based around these issues allowed me to gain a different perspective. Learning that a priest, who is someone who is supposed to be approachable and good-natured, raped Talbot was very shocking; however, it made me think about how things like this do happen in real life too. It is very upsetting to think about. Although the main subject matter doesn't relate to my life directly, I could see aspects of little struggles my family goes through in the play. All families go through hard times and fight, but family is always there for you at the end of the day just like Talbot's was.

The Emotional Experience

Pictured above are two sculptures in the lobby of Constans Theater that I found to be quite disturbing, yet intriguing.

The whole performance and the conclusion of The Divine provided viewers with an opportunity for katharsis. Throughout the play, I questioned why Talbot and his family moved, why he stole the silverware, and why he had anger issues. Some people might have even seen Talbot as the bad guy; however, the revelation that he was being raped by a priest was, although shocking, a feeling of "coming clean." I think this chance for katharsis exists because it allows the audience to think about how they might view situations such as these in real life. All too often, we are quick to judge people's situations without knowing what is really going on behind closed doors. This performance challenges us to look at ourselves, how we view others, and how we view social institutions like the Church and furthermore, allows for katharsis.

Created By
Savannah Phillips
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