The Spatial Experience
I had never been to the Constance Theatre until I attended The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. I saw it instantly after I walked into the Reitz Union and was a little surprised. I realized that I study on the steps outside the Constance Theatre every week without ever acknowledging the theatre. I was very impressed with the theatre itself. I had a great seat in the middle of the theatre so I never had any trouble viewing the stage. I arrived at the theatre a little early, so I spent a fair amount of time waiting before the show began. There were noticeably window props on the stage, and at 2:00pm snow began to fall behind them. This instantly brought the audience to silence. I thought this was an interesting way to catch the viewers’ attention. I liked that the actors were not limited to the stage, and actually walked through the audience for a couple scenes. The auditorium was not very large, which made the setting of the show feel more intimate. I feel that place holds an important role in Good Life because of the effect it has on one’s experiences.
photo taken by me outside Constans Theatre
The Social Experience
I attended the performance with one of my close friends and I felt that this enhanced my experience. I felt that going to the show with a friend made me feel more comfortable and it was a fun experience to share. We ended up running into another one of our friends who sat with us during the show. As we sat in our seats before the show began, the three of us flipped through the programs. We discussed our prior knowledge about the show, but none of us really knew what to expect. I felt that the greatest aspect of attending the play with friends was discussing our opinions about the show during intermission and after the performance. It was helpful to gain insight on how others experienced the show. I think shared experiences are such a necessary aspect of the Good Life because that is how relationships are built.
Photo taken by me within the lobby of Constans Theatre.
The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt had a very intensive plot line that addressed many social issues. The central theme of the play was class. The show presented a strong distinction between social oppression and privilege. The characters stood on both sides of the spectrum, being the elite and the impoverished. Although I know history on child labor, the play really opened my eyes to the terrible factory conditions many children and women were exposed to during that time period. In the play, Talbot’s mother and Leo worked in a shoe factory. At one point the boss points out that when the rich purchase shoes they do not consider the cheap labor that went into the shoes as long as they’re getting a good price. I feel that this is still very applicable in today’s world. Many clothing stores in the United States obtain cheap labor from less developed countries. However, the thought of how a shirt was produced does not typically cross people’s mind while they’re shopping. After seeing this play I think I will take that more into consideration. I did not personally feel that the subject matter directly applied to my life, but I did think that there were important messages to take away from the show.
Photo taken by me within the lobby of the Constans Theatre.
The Emotional Experience
The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt addresses many issues that are socially uncomfortable. It can be easy to forget about such issues when they do not directly affect your own life. That is why this play provides the audience with an opportunity for katharsis. Coming clean is such a necessary part of life. It is not always easy to face the difficultand unjust aspects of life. Without the ability to come clean, these things only wear us down. For instance, Talbot noticeably struggled to come clean with his own past which brought anger and fear into his life. Talbot needed katharsis to find relief. I think watching the play reminds the audience to face their own issues and find katharsis. The play is not censored and does not sugar coat anything. In that way the play itself comes clean.
Photo of program taken by me.