Introduction: This Spark Story is focused around the showing of The Devine: A Play for Sarah Bernhart at the Constans Theater at the University of Florida presented by the School of Theater and Dance. The showing in reference took place at 7pm on January 25, 2017. Written by Michel Marc Bouchard, Translated by Linda Goboriau, and Directed by David Young.
Spatial Experience: I entered the theater through the Reitz Union on a chilly January evening. To the left I first noticed the exposed woodwork in addition to the swarms of other students in attendance. After being ushered to my seat I was able to take in my surroundings. I was seated two seats from the wall, about 8 rows up and far to stage right. Having been so far to stage right, I was able to see off stage into the wings and could see actors standing just off stage preparing to make their entrances. This did somewhat ruin the illusion that I was immersed in the show, having been able to predict when a certain character would enter. I would have preferred to sit in a more central location, however the usher sat us one next to another filling every seat to ensure that there was enough space for everyone. However, sitting so closely to other audience members did in fact add to the intimacy of the experience. I made it feel almost like we were on a roller coster ride and would together take part in the ups and downs that the show would throw at us. When the lights first began to dim a hush fell over the crowd, you could feel the anticipation in the room. Looking around in the final moments before the play I saw students looking one last time at their playbill in the light on there cellphones and some late comers scurry to their seats in the back.
A selfie before entering the Constans Theatre inside the Reitz Union, other students attending the play in the background
Social Experience: I planned to meet up with my friend Jenifer at the theater, however she was running a few minutes late. As I waited for her on the couches outside the theater I ran into a few of my friends from high school. It was nice to see them since I had not seen them in a while. One was also for her Good Life class, and the other was there for her Theater Appreciation class. It was nice to be able to catch up with them before the show. Once my friend arrived that I planned to see the show with we took our seat across the aisle from my high school friends. It was nice sitting with people that I knew because we felt comfortable enough to ask each other questions during intermission. I also liked being able to watch the expressions of my friends during different scenes and seeing their reactions.
Selfie of me entering the theater
Cultural and Intellectual experience: Seeing the play after the recent US presidential election allowed me to see many parallels between the play and what is going on in our nation today. In The Devine a factory owner was exploiting children in order to increase his productivity. Today in America our manufacturing jobs have almost all but gone overseas to countries such as China, India, and Indonesia. When we go to Walmart to purchase a pair of jeans, just like Madeleine did while looking to purchase a pair of boots all we think about is getting the lowest price. We rarely think about the conditions of the workers who produced the product we are buying or what the were paid, or even about how they and their families may be suffering. Our new President has made a promise to move manufacturing jobs back to the US. I think this would be good for our economy, however I cannot help but think about the poor factory workers overseas that would loose their jobs that they too so heavily rely upon. In the second half when little Leo was suffocated just under the feet of his mother and brother it really struck a nerve for me. I am very close with my mother and sisters, if one of them were to perish, especially right under my nose I do not think that I would be able to live with myself.
Photo credits to my photographer Jenifer Moschovitch
Emotional Experience: The Devine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allowed to audience for two hours to step back from the problems of the modern world and step into a different area. One of the underlying points of the plot that was unveiled was the sexual exploitations of priests within the Catholic Church. Throughout the play Talbot struggled with how to deal with the abuse he suffered as a child. In the end his secret was uncovered when Michaud releases a confession from the deathbed of the Priest. This act of coming clean on his behalf is what I see as a dying man's last hope at redemption and in a way coming clean for his sins in hopes of preventing punishment in the afterlife or Katharsis. I think talking about sexual assault is especially important on a college campus. By starting the dialogue in the theater students such as myself can discuss with their friends how they might handle a similar situation and share knowledge of resources on campus that would be of help. In the end that is the role of the theater, to get people talking and thinking. I think that this production was very successful in that aspect.