The Divine The Divine, the wicked, and the Tragedy

On Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 the actors and actresses at the UF Constans Theater performed a beautiful and shocking play: The Divine a play for Sarah Bernhardt. Shocking to me as I did not read the background of the story line, set in 1905 Quebec City, or the story of the famous Sarah Bernhardt, until just before showtime. After reading the study guide on all the actors/actress in the play and trying to absorb all their personalities and history of the time, the show began. I did not take any photos of my own.

Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) found on Pinterest

The spacial experience was magical. The stage props were detailed and represented the settings between the church, the shoe factory, and Sarah Bernhardt dressing room so well. The transition between those settings were quick and creative. I was happy with the placement of my seat, the middle seat in the middle aisle. Our seat were chosen for us, as we filed in behind the people who entered the play before us. I was happy the attendants helped us to fill up as much space as close to the stage as possible.

Sarah Bernhardt, photograph by Napoleon Sarony, 1880

Being as close to the stage as possible and close to each other was nice for the actors/actresses, who didn't have to project their voice as much, and my peers, who had reactions to the play similar to mine. If was funny to see what my peers laughed at and what they didn't find funny. I did not attend the play with any friends. I really enjoy taking time for myself, and I don't mind going out or experiencing a social event alone. The social experience relating to the Good Life is one that makes you happy. If experiencing the lovely play with or without friend is more enjoyable to you, then do it! Do what makes you happy, with the people you are happy with, or with the happy feeling of doing things for yourself.

Poster for the 1912 film "Queen Elizabeth", starring the divine Sarah Bernhardt found on Pinterest

The cultural experience presented in the play was full of controversy, love, regret, and anger. The time, set in 1905, when manufacturing workers across the world were fighting for better work conditions, higher wages, and restrictions on working children. More controversy presented in the theaters of the day were entertaining to some and vulgar to others. A similar cultural experience is happening to this day. The church trying to push away the situations and entertainment they are uncomfortable with and the opposed are pushing back. More controversy that led the characters to regret and anger was the unwanted sexual encounters that Mr. Talbot received from his old church member. This was shocking to see the mental fight Mr. Talbot has within himself telling the truth about the situation and lying to the police and everyone else including his family about the situation. Mr. Michaud tries to be the friend Mr. Talbot needed during this ordeal and he may not have convinced Mr. Talbot to speak the truth, but he did take matters into his own hands. This is a touchy subject for many and always a tough situation to deal with. As a friend I'm not sure if I would have gone against my friends wishes. On another subject the love scenes between Mr.Talbot and Madeline were also against the wishes of the church, but again love seems to also coincide with rebellion a lot of the time. Love or fling, either or was against the wishes of almost everyone since it was a distraction from Mr. Talbots duties to pursue his life within the church. Mrs. Talbot and Leo worked their lives away to help young Talbot and in the worst conditions. This is not uncommon throughout history, trying to help a family member pursue a better life. Its hard not to help the people we love, especially at our own expense. This cultural experience is one that everyone in some way was able to relate to within the play: The Divine.

220 px Sarah Bernhardt Clairin Henderson

I believe the emotions and situation, whether difficult or unwanted by many, must be presented. Even though some peoples feelings may be hurt by the presentation, everyone should hear of these situations, so to at least to help them in the future in case anything like this relates to their lives. If you do not condone the messages presented whether in this play or anywhere you should be respectful and open minded. Everyone is allowed a freedom of speech and a freedom to enjoy the things that makes them happy, and that's what I believe makes this life a Good Life.

Created By
Emily Hall
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