The Divine Delaina Parrish

The Spatial Experience

The lobby was brightly lit with several art paintings and sculptures. Considering the small size of the lobby I expected the auditorium to be intimate as well; however, it was very spacious, albeit dimly lit. I grew up attending plays in metropolitan and local areas, so I have an appreciation for a wide array of arts and theaters and venues. The Constans Theatre experience was quite honestly, a disappointment, beginning with the hospitality. Usually, theater ushers are happy to assist the guests in any way they can. But Constans Theatre ushers tended to be brusque with the students, which made me feel anxious rather than welcomed. I found it amusing that even with "open" seating, the ushers filed us in like kindergarteners, directing the bulk of students to the front and leaving me isolated in the outdated handicap section in the back. But there were pros and cons to my seating arrangement. On a positive note, I had a wide view of the stage. So, if an actor emerged from the side, I could easily see them without straining my neck as the seating was designed to be on an incline to allow better viewing. On the downside, the wheelchair seating was located between the aisle and the door causing distractions before, during and after intermission. And sadly, my personal tradition of saving tickets as performance souvenirs was thwarted when I realized there was to be no paper tickets. Another disappointment was observing how casually students dressed for the theatre; my parents taught me that attending performances was an occasion of celebration! Overall though, it was a fun experience to dress up and attend a play, which is something I have not had much time to do since becoming a full time student at UF.

About five minutes before the play started, I noticed what appeared to be snowflakes falling in the background of the stage. It halted right before the play started, leaving me confused and wondering if the intent was to depict winter or if it was an accident. As the lights dimmed, everyone grew quiet. Then, two luminous spotlights swirled across the audience as the opening music set the tone for the play. And so it began!

The Social Experience

Prior to attendance, I researched the background of The Devine online to familiarize myself with the characters. I was shocked and excited to learn that UF had the privilege of hosting the United States premier of the play!

I attended the performance with my friend Kayla. She does not take The Good Life course and, incredibly, was watching her first play. Viewing the play with her improved my experience; for example, when she pointed out some details that I wouldn't have noticed myself. Some of the plot concepts were confusing so we helped each other understand the events of the play. With my career interest in fashion design, I was curious if the costumes would accurately portray the early 18th century wardrobe. Sarah's wardrobe, especially, caught our eye with the vibrant colors and delicate details, although we did find it distracting to hear the train of her dress dragging across the stage. Also, we were able to relate the reoccurring theme of rebellion to current events, like the new presidency and rebellion of some of the American people. Personally, my friend and I questioned how the church was portrayed throughout the play. We both thought that it wasn't an accurate representation. I also suggested the plot lacked consistency and could have been more apparent. After going to class I found out that some people really enjoyed the play and others hated it. This is often the case in theatre.

In order to have a positive shared experience everyone must be able to express their ideas and views as well as be receptive to how others feel. I believe to experience the good life, you have to communicate with others and have an open mind to be able to grow intellectually.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

According to Sarah, the men in this world had lost their ability to rebel against things that they didn’t believe in. She makes the bold claim that there weren’t any real men in the world at all. In my life, the subject matter of rebellion has a direct relationship to me personally, standing up for myself. I discovered this relationship had more meaning since attending UF, mainly when advocating for rights that every student should have, including those with disabilities. Unlike the characters in The Devine, I have had to face those in authority to ensure my voice is heard.

The message of the play was directed toward society, and I believe encouraging people to stand up for what they believe is crucial. It is also important to set your own path and not follow the crowd and trends. While the play was thought provoking, I did not agree with all the aspects of the theme, such as how the story contributes to the wellbeing of society through its lies that create stereotypes, specifically about the church. On the other hand, it provides dialogue in the community to share ideas.

After seeing this performance I did not develop a new way of seeing and understanding my culture. I was brought up in a Christian home. Although the religion in the play was different from my own, I still know that was not an accurate interpretation of how the church is in reality. In the 18th century, the Catholic church was very conservative; therefore, the shenanigans in the play would normally not be tolerated in the church.

The Emotional Experience

The Devine provides an opportunity for catharsis by encouraging the audience to reach a conviction about religion and child labor. Otherwise, as we saw in characters like Talbot and Casgrain, we can expect to become further lost in self doubt and untruths, all while trying to smoulder the past. At the opening of the play, Mrs. Talbot yearned for her son to become a priest, but he never voiced his opposition. The opposition was portrayed via Talbot's rebellion throughout the play as he comes to terms with his past. In the end he came to the realization of what he wanted for his life and what made him truly happy. The denouement provides that the journey to self discovery isn't always pretty, and it requires each of us to constantly resolve our shortcomings - a crucial step to becoming genuinely happy.

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Delaina Parrish
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