The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Hannah Perez

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt was a play about a seminarian writing a play about the events in the lives about the people around him. It was a criticism of the theatre, but at the same time elucidated how important theatre and the arts are to mankind. Contradictions and contrast helped tell a story delved in history.

The Spatial Experience

The Constans Theatre was dimly lit and felt very intimate. The lobby was quiet and simple, with signs saying no food or drink, no large bags, making you feel more isolated from the world and immersed into the theatre. The program had etiquette that also contributed to the spatial experience.

I was seated relatively close to the front, so for the parts where the characters would come out into the audience, the actors would be behind me. My view was almost level with the stage so I could see the actors in great detail. I think I'd prefer it that way. Not the very first row, but not far enough that I would have to look down. The seating really enhanced the performance, so I am glad that I got there early. I did not know what to expect from the play when I entered the theatre, but the atmosphere definitely made it more welcoming and appealing.

The Social Experience

Me, Myself, and I

I watched the play alone. I mean not really alone, but I didn't go with anyone that I knew. I made some conversations with strangers, but we were all there for the same reason, some didn't even want to be. It was nice being alone because there were no distractions, but I would have liked to have gone with someone to share my reactions with. The pictures above were taken by other Good Life students that I just asked to take a picture for me. I actually found someone that I knew during intermission, but she ended up leaving during the intermission. Even if you went alone, you could not avoid seeing the play with other people. Talking to them about the play and seeing other people's reaction is just as much part of the experience as the play itself.

The Cultural Experience

I have always enjoyed historical fiction. It is my favorite genre to read, because for me the situations are real. The emotions are real because people really lived through these events. Ever characteristic of the play is explainable by the setting. Quebec, French city of Canada, isolated in a northern sanctuary, in contrast to Paris, a ever-changing progressing city, a worldly city. These characteristics are mentioned briefly by the characters themselves, but these are social confines that at the time would not have to had been spoken. I think the actors did an excellent job of portraying who they were in that society. Michaud, born with all that he could ever ask for, had the liberty to think about the world how he did, he had a choice. Joseph Talbot never had a choice about his station in life. For that I found his character admirable because he took what he was given and lived. Through his life, Michaud's character grows and develops as his naivety is stripped away. There is also the religious confines to think about, in the cultural setting of the play. Quebec, being so isolated was a very traditional city, especially during the times of social revolution in the early 1900s. The Church had a lot of influence, and many of the conflicts were based on the conflict of the church and theatre or working versus seminary life.

The Emotional Experience

The play revealed things that I felt I already knew. It was a play about reality, depicting the theatre as fantasy. Berhardt's overacting frivolous world, in contrast to Talbot's harsh reality was an important element in showing how society is. I knew how I was supposed to feel, but I didn't feel that way.

Michaud is the audience here, the third party, just keeping records until he final acts at the end of the play, turning the cat-eyed priest into the police. The cartharsis that I had was minimal and made feel like I was cynical of the world. I know people are bad, I know if you stop a bad deed one place someone will employ it in another place, like the manager of the shoe factory pointed out. The harsh realities that the characters cams to realize were revealed like an epiphany, but I did not feel the epiphany. Talbot was my favorite character because I felt like he knew how the world worked and he was okay with it, and if not okay with it at least he accepted it to the best of his ability. Emotionally, Talbot provided me with the greatest carthasis because he taught himself peace amidst a horrible life.


Hannah Perez

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