The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt (Image from Wikipedia, taken by photographer Nadar)

I went to see The Divine with two of my friends, Connor Christensen and Bailey Cantrell. We met outside the theater and took this picture before going inside! (Image taken by my friend Connor, who approved my use of it in this presentation)
The Spatial Experience: The theater was very beautiful, and bigger on the inside than I thought it would be. It was packed full of people watching it for Good Life, but my friends and I were still able to get good seats. I had a great view of the stage throughout the whole play. We were so close that at one point, the actress playing Sarah Bernhardt came right next to our row, the spotlight shining right over us. It was a little startling, but made the play feel more real. I've been to see many plays before, and one of my favorite things is the immediate hush that falls over even the most boisterous of crowds right as the lights dim. The same thing happened at this play. I think it's always the most exciting part, because the whole audience is waiting in shared curiosity, wondering what it is the actors and actresses will choose to show them. (Image from Wikipedia, taken by photographer Nadar)
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: The play dealt with many heavy themes and plot details. At the center of the play is the subject of poverty, and the lengths people will go to for money and security. The rich shop owner was willing to put children's lives in danger in order to expedite and lower the price of making his shoes so that he could have more money in the end. On the flip side, his impoverished workers, children included, had no choice but to put up with whatever conditions he offered them because without their jobs, they would certainly fall into deep poverty and possibly die. I knew a lot about situations like this from books I've read (The Mill on the Floss, Great Expectations, etc.) but the play put it in a visual perspective that I had not seen before. Although painful to watch at times, it taught me a lot about the struggles people went through just to survive in that time period. They were constantly worried about making ends meet, so they never had the luxury of seeking out the "good life" like I do-- they were just trying to stay alive, period. The play also touched on other issues, such as controversies within the Catholic church, sexuality, and sexual abuse. It certainly made me very upset at times, thinking about the terrible things that had happened to some of the characters. At times, I even found it hard to keep up because the plot was so thick. While I cannot relate to many of the problems that the characters experienced, it was easy to empathize with them as each new development unfolded. Perhaps the one thing I did identify with was the death of the younger brother-- a few years ago, a friend of mine passed away. I really understood the grief that the characters must have been experiencing, and how the loss of a loved one makes every other issue in your life seem obsolete. (Image taken by myself, from the program given at the play)
The Social Experience: I attended the play with my friends Connor and Bailey, and actually ended up seeing a lot of people I knew once I arrived at the play. It was interesting to note who laughed at what part, what reactions people had to plot details, and who was and wasn't respectful to the people who were involved in the putting on the show. For the most part, people were very considerate and the audience was attentive; however, there were definitely some people not paying attention or rolling their eyes at what was happening. I think that's to be expected though! At one point, the play's director came and sat in front of me. It was interesting to watch him watch the play that he orchestrated! I like that when you go to a play, you go with other people. Art is so much better when experienced with others because you can discuss it and compare your interpretations! (Image taken by myself, from the program given at the play)
The Emotional Experience: This play was very emotionally charged-- I wasn't expecting it! Because it covered so many different topics, I think it was easy for most, if not all, audience members to experience katharsis during the play. Even if you couldn't relate to anything that happened to any of the characters, most people have experienced some form of trauma in their lives, so it would be easy to look at the responses of each character to the different events and compare them with your own responses to emotional moments in your life. Plays are also excellent ways for us to live vicariously through other people, to put ourselves in their shoes and feel as though we are the people experiencing the plot of the play. I was certainly able to do that, and I think most of my peers were too. (Image from Wikipedia, taken by photographer Nadar)

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