The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Alexa Heilman

Walking up the entrance to the theatre I could tell it would be spacious inside because of the depth of the building. Entering the theatre, any theatre, is always an experience, it's a preview to the performance as a whole because the physical setting plays a big part in the experience. Being up close to the stage was a special experience because you are so close to the actors and the action itself; a seat this close would not be easy to come by in a regular performance experience. Sitting in my seat as the lights dimmed was like the fruition of my anticipation. I think place is an important part in the good life because it shapes so much of our individual experiences.

Photo taken before performance from seat

I attended the performance alone, and, also (I feel), slightly over dressed- because I read the instructions to dress appropriately and and wore a dress and tights while i saw others in more casual dress. Being alone and overdressed created some discomfiture, but that is ok because it lets you experience new things in new mind sets. And still, being sat next to strangers that are also peers in a similar situation (same class and same assignment same and possibly also overdressed) allows a sort of collective experience of the performance. Once the play begins and everyone is quiet and attentive, the audience is a single entity, we experience the emotions of the play simultaneously, yet our internalizations of the themes and deeper levels of "The Divine; A Play for Sarah Bernhardt". in a good life we have to allow ourselves to have new experiences in new situations with new people to grow as people, that is what the play did for me.

Viewing an appreciating art from different time periods and of different time periods/cultures/mindsets is important in broadening our understanding of the world and also in our individual search of the good life. Prior to viewing the play I had not read the provided study guide, and therefore had little preconceptions before viewing. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt deals with the antagonism between church and theatrical self expressive art. The play Sarah Bernhardt is to perform is "of questionable morality" and is too taboo in the eyes of the church in the 1905 time period in Quebec. Aside from the issue of self-expression, the play also deals with familial death and the harsh life condition had to endured by the family of Talbot; in contrast with the "easy" life that was had by Michaud. the dichotomy between Tolbert and MIchaud's upbringing and family life also represents how people are supposed to be equal before god as they are equal in the confines of the seminary. For the most part the performance didn't much change my views on the subject matter; but in relation to my everyday life, the matters of social inequity between the rich and impoverished are quite relevant, as I see that matter discussed much in television and other media such as books. in my worldview equality is an important part of a good life: treating others equally and with respect regardless of socioeconomic status. also important in everyday life the right to self expression; in art forms of all kind, like Sarah Bernhardt's controversial play, deserves to be appreciated because it allows us too see the human condition from the artist's point of view and that is a valuable thing.

Sarah Bernhardt

Katharsis, or catharsis, like that in Antigone or in Othello, and all other great tragedies is an important aspect to the genre. Allowing the audience to "blow off steam" and expel useless, dangerous, or taboo emotions during a controlled environment like a theatre play was thought to keep people sane. Similar to psychoanalytic theory of the id, the ego, and the superego- unconscious desires and emotions can be dangerous to the individual if not properly dealt with and expelled. In a collective audience, experiencing the emotions of a play is both an individual and group ordeal. For me, the plot of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt put me through a personal range of emotions, and through calling attention to the issues of religion, art and self-expression, death, and socioeconomic inequality allowed a catharsis for myself.

photo 1 : http://arts.ufl.edu/in-the-loop/events/the-divine-a-play-for-sarah-bernhardt/

photo 3 : https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b9/SarahBernhardt1880.jpg/250px-SarahBernhardt1880.jpg&imgrefurl=https://an.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Bernhardt&h=318&w=250&tbnid=_BLKwAQytgeF5M:&vet=1&tbnh=186&tbnw=146&docid=wlsBk5SYnALKUM&itg=1&usg=__QtmkW2eYCHnsok_lUeX07Nr6Tq0=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiFnbDkw_rRAhVMyGMKHeEBClsQ_B0IeDAK&ei=ju2XWIUezJCPA-GDqNgF#h=318&imgrc=_BLKwAQytgeF5M:&tbnh=186&tbnw=146&vet=1&w=250

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Alexa Heilman
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