THE DIVINE: A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT A glimpse at the good life


O'Connor, Libby "Constans Theatre" 2017. JPEG file.
  • The atmosphere of the theater as we walked in was one of excitement and anticipation, as is customary for most theater performances.
  • We were seated in the middle of the second row. Our proximity to the stage and actors made the experience so much more personal, as it almost felt like we were part of the performance.
  • Proximity is important to the good life, as you can't fully experience the good life from a distance. The closer you are to the center of the good life, the more likely you are to become a part of it.


O'Connor, Libby "Olivia Orr, Libby O'Connor, and Bianca Maesa" 2017. JPEG file
  • I attended this performance with my roommate, Olivia, and our friend, Bianca
  • Attending the performance with my friends made attending the play seem like more of a social event than a required assignment, which lightened the mood and opened my mind to experience the performance in a positive way.
  • Shared experiences are integral to the good life, as they remind us that we don't go through life alone, and that we are having a unified experience, sharing an emotional, cultural, and intellectual connection. It also helps us to relate to others.


O'Connor, Libby "Before the Performance" 2017. JPEG file
  • While many different themes were presented throughout the performance, the two most prominent themes were about poverty and the importance of the arts.
  • Before the performance, I knew about child slavery in factories in the early 1900's. This was especially prominent during the Second Industrial Revolution. It presented a huge moral dilemma within society, as it was unethical and illegal to employ children, especially in dangerous work environments, yet families needed the money and employers needed cheap labor.
  • The themes regarding child labor had a very significant impact on me, as i realized that child labor is still occurring today. I thought about the clothes that I had on and thought about who made them, if they had a family, if they were happy, etc. In this way, the performance very much took the form of a social commentary, pointing out that none of us, the audience, were absolved from sin in the matter.
  • As a musician, the importance of the arts as always been something I believe in, so that aspect of the performance was not new to me. Presenting the idea that we, as artists and advocates, have the responsibility of communicating the social issues of the times through our art was interesting to me, however. It definitely changed my thoughts on what my role is in social and cultural change and development.


O'Connor, Libby "Post-Performance" 2017. JPEG file
  • Because The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt¬†integrates such delicate and controversial social problems into its plot, such as those of poverty and the role of the arts, it provides the audience a sense of katharsis, or "coming clean". By discussing child slavery and calling to question the lives of the people who made the clothes and shoes we wear, the play questions the audience, and how these issues may still be applicable to their own lives. It's one think to observe these dilemmas as a member of the audience, removed, but this performance points at the audience, affirming that we should be asking these questions ourselves, and from this we can experience katharsis.
  • In addition to social issues, the performance urges the audience to question how we present and discuss controversial issues. Like Dr. Pagan said, theater presents "topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, or culturally radical". The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt¬†forces the audience to consider when and how we talk about such topics. Should we just skip around the problems to be polite? What is our role in starting the conversation? Do we have a moral obligation to start the conversation and ask the questions that may be uncomfortable to ask?
Created By
Libby O'Connor


Created with images by Nachrichten_muc - "stage curtain curtain stage" O'Connor, Libby (images from the performance)

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