Good Life Performance The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

Project by Alexander Gregory

The Spatial Experience

The Constans Theatre was very nice. I sat in the back row of front-left section. Due to the elevation of my seating my view was more or less level with the stage. I went in to the theater a little tired and unsure of what the play was about or what quality it would be. When the lights dimmed and Sarah Bernhardt appeared in the spotlight I was a little surprised, because she was right behind me.

The Social Experience

I attended the play by myself, but I was surprised because I saw that many people that I knew also came for the same viewing. I enjoyed viewing it alone, and while I have attended other plays with friends it did not lessen the experience more me. After the play, for many days and probably more to come, I would encounter strangers talking about the play, its fairly easy to recognize what they are talking about given everything in the play, and I would add something into the discussion and get drawn into the conversation. I think that really says something about the play itself.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt had many so many themes and important issues that it is difficult to narrow the focus down to just one or two; which I find to be accurate to real life, as we all have to deal with more or less everything in life. In reality we do not often get the chance to only worry or think about one issue at a time.

Some of the major themes in the play were:

  • The influence of religion in choice making, art, and preformances
  • Socio-economic issues such as poverty, division of wealth, class differences, and labor conditions
  • Consumerism
  • The role of art in society

The Emotional Experience

The play is, starting from the second half, an emotional roller-coaster filled with emotionally charged and often distressing issues. (This is part of what makes it easy to tell if others are talking about the play) The play has the base emotions: happiness, anger, sadness, and fear; but it is because of the characters circumstances and conditions that these strong base emotions become increasingly varied and powerful. The two most emotionally impacting issues in this play (in my opinion) were the horrific labor conditions in the factory (which eventually led to Leo's death) and Talbot's sexual abuse that the church is trying to cover up. These along with others have a strong emotional impact on us, in part because society today is still struggling with these issues.

After the talk back I asked some of the cast (Kristina Johnson(Mrs. Talbot), Katie Haeuser(Emma Francoeur), Sandra Kalaveshi(Therese Desnoyers)) about how they were able to portray emotion in this play so well, as I assumed they probably never had to go through some of what happened in the play. They said as with all theater it takes lots of practice, and imagination to be able to put yourself in the character's shoes (no pun intended).

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