The Divine: A PLAY FOR SARAH BERNHARDT By: Griffen Bloshinsky

The Spatial Expirience

Minutes before the play began

Entering the Constans Theatre was shocking. I walked in to realize that the theatre was filled with hundreds of anxious students ready for the show to begin. I entered the theatre and was directed to a seat only about 8 rows away from the stage. My seat was right near the center of the row so I had a great view of the entire stage. This seat was very satisfying and allowed me to easily view the entire play without any hinderances. Before the play started, I looked around to see many students reading the playbill and preparing for the show to begin. The lights finally dimmed out and the then chatter-filled theatre turned silent. I was very intrigued by the fact that turning off the theatre lights could completely silence an audience full of hundreds of college students. The dimming of the lights to initiate the start of the show also escalated suspense to begin the play. When I entered the theatre, I came in with minimal expectations, but was very excited to see what the play had to offer. The dark atmosphere of the room after the lights dimmed made me even more excited because it signaled the start of the play. Overall, my excellent seats and the dark theatre atmosphere enhanced my spatial experience. Place is a very important part of the good life because everything you do in life takes place somewhere. Whether the place you are in is good or bad, you will always remember where instrumental moments in your life took place which is essential to the good life.

The Social Experience

My friend Becca and I outside of the entrance to the Constans theatre prior to the start of the play

I decided to sign up to see the show with my friend Becca because she texted me weeks before asking if I wanted to go with her. Becca and I have been good friends since the beginning of the Fall semester and we communicate regularly. I haven't been able to hang out with Becca as much since recently being initiated into a Fraternity, so this was a great opportunity to catch up and watch the show together. We met up 30 minutes prior to the play, and then walked over to the Constans theatre a little early in order to ensure we got good seats. I strongly believe that all experiences are more enjoyable when you can share them with someone you are very very close with. Becca is someone who I can easily relate with and we have a lot of similarities. I knew we could have great discussions both before and after the play about our thoughts on the experience. Going with Becca to the play surely improved the social experience.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The lobby leading to the Constans Theatre

The Divine is based on an incident that occurred in 1905 while Sarah Bernhardt was visiting Quebec City. The central issue addressed in the performance dealt with the archbishop of the Catholic Church attempting to ban Sarah Bernhardt’s plays because he believed they were immoral. The archbishop sent two young seminarians to visit Bernhardt and tell her that her plays had been banned, but one of the seminarians possessed widely conflicting views about banning Bernhardt’s plays. Prior to this play, I knew very little about the subject matter being presented. I knew a little about the poor working conditions that were portrayed in this play, but had no knowledge on the role of the Catholic Church in theatre. The performance changed my views abut the issues described as I realized how large of a role the Catholic Church played during this time period. In addition, I was appalled with how difficult it was for lower class families to get out of poverty during this time. I have grown up in a middle class jewish family so I don’t have much of a relationship with poverty or the Catholic Church. I have learned about both of these subject matters in school, but aside from that, the subject matter in this play has minimal correlation to anything happening in my own life.

The Emotional Experience

Becca and I anxiously waiting for the play to begin

The Divine’s main themes provide us with the opportunity for katharsis. Katharsis is the Greek word for the process of “coming clean.” Many people live their lives with tons of weight on their shoulders because they can not come clean about certain things that have happened in their life. In this play, the poor seminarian has stolen expensive silverware from his prior church. He is unable to come clean about stealing the silverware because he knows it would get him in a lot of trouble. Although his mother and archbishop know about him stealing the items, he chooses not to return them and doesn’t come clean about the stolen items. I think that this was a mistake by the young seminarian because I think that telling the truth is important. Stealing is never okay, especially by an aspiring priest, and there is no reason to hide what you have done even if the effect may not be beneficial. Life is much more enjoyable when you have nothing to hide, and I believe that coming clean is always the right thing to do.

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