I was excited to see the performance of The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt here at UF. This was the first play I have seen at the University and wondered what it would be like to see a play performed by fellow UF students.
The Spatial Experience
The outside of Constans Theater (picture from Wikipedia)
Though the role of physical place may seem unimportant when viewing a work of art, it is anything but. The physical place of something allows one to situate it and respond to as part of a larger context, including one's own experiences and life as a whole. This is especially true in the theater. I found the Constans theater to be an optimal viewing place, being just the right size. I was fortunate enough to sit toward the center of the theater, possibly enhancing my experience. The crew did a wonderful job with the lighting and the changes of set felt natural and did not interrupt the play itself. This all achieved a perfect atmosphere for the presentation of a work of art and had me excited for the performance.
The Social Experience
I attended the performance with my roommate, who is also currently taking Good Life. Attending a presentation of a work of art with others can greatly enhance the experience, in my opinion. The nature of drama enhances this, the audience can almost be said to come together and play a part in the work of art but their reactions and feelings. This type of communal artistic experience can play an essential part of the good life as it elevates one and makes one part of something bigger.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
Sculptures in Constans Theater
The play covered a variety of meaningful topics and brought to life the early 20th century setting. It highlighted many injustices of society at the time, and showed how unfair abuse of power can crush normal, good people. Both Brother Casgrain and Talbot's brother Leo lost their life due in some way to the unfair structure of society. The actress Sarah Bernhardt and theater and art in general provided a liberating force to counter all of this in the play. These themes definitely made an impact on me and reminded me of the harsh realities many people still face in the world today.
The Emotional Experience
Leaving Constans Theater after the performance
I found the play quite powerful and was impressed by its message. It had both the tragic elements and the powerful redeeming message necessary for true katharsis. Thus, the play did not leave one with a sense of despair, but rather left one hopeful that, despite the dismal circumstances depicted in the play, human beings can still come together, and especially using the transformative power of art, bring meaning to our lives.