The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Spark story by Lauren kirkley

The Spatial Experience

Having never been to the Constans before, I was thoroughly impressed by how large the theater was and the size of the stage. I felt like it made the play seem even more theatrical, which I think is the tone they were attempting to give off. I was sitting about halfway back on the left side of the theater, but I didn't find that it affected the experience of the play at all. I was still able to see everything fairly clearly. I felt excited when the play started because although I knew a few things about it, I knew there was a dark twist at the end and I didn't know what would happen. I think place doesn't necessarily have to play a role in the Good Life, but it certainly can. For a play like this, being in a nice theater can affect the audience's experience. However, if I had seen this on a much smaller stage, I think I would have still felt moved by it.

The Social Experience

I was supposed to go to the performance with a friend in my class, but she reserved for the wrong day so I ended up showing up alone. However, I saw some friends from my dorm before I even went in the theater so I sat with them. All I did to get ready for the play was read the short description online, but I wanted to go in knowing as little as possible because that's how I like to enjoy media. Being able to talk with my friends during the intermission and afterwards really enhanced my experience of the story, because we could talk about the parts that affected us and what we thought would happen. I think sharing experiences makes them more enjoyable at certain points, but also- like a good location- it's not necessary. I'm a big proponent of doing things by yourself, like going out to eat or going to the movies alone. Learning how to spend time with yourself is really important and can help you reflect on your own values and ideas.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The play was set in industrial America and addressed the conditions that poor women and children faced in factories and the blind eye that the upper classes turned to their struggles. I had already learned a lot about this in history classes. I remember learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in which many poor women and children died. That was the starting point for social change including child labor and safety laws. I don't think the play really changed my perspective, just made me realize how bad the problem was.

I saw a bit of my own struggles in Talbot's identity struggle. As I grow up I am questioning how much I should do for my family and how much I should do for myself. I think Talbot faced these questions as well.

The Emotional Experience

I think The Divine achieved katharsis to an extent, but I think it could have gone farther. The Divine presented a social critique of the past, and while it is good to condemn abuses of the past- child labor, unsafe factory conditions, the divide between the rich and poor- I don't think it really connected them to what's happening in the world today. Around the world children and women are still working in factories like that, but I don't think everyone was thinking about that leaving the play. There is still a divide between the rich and poor, in some ways worse than in the time period of the play. So I think to fully achieve katharsis the play should have connected its social themes to today's reality.

Credits:

Lauren Kirkley, January 31

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