Good Life Performance: The Divine By: Samantha Albino


On Friday, January 27th, I went to the Constans Theatre for my very first time. At first, I was not very excited about attending the play. I was very hesitant about how I would feel attending a college play. I've only ever attended high school plays which are of a much lesser degree. In the sense that most high school plays are not as serious and mature. I was not quite sure if I would be able to enjoy such a serious and mature play like the Divine, let alone be able to understand such a complex script. However, I was proven wrong after attending the Divine. It was a very enjoyable experience and very well performed.

All photo credit belongs to myself and my friend, Nicole Marie.

The Spatial Experience:

outside the constans Theatre

When I first entered the theater my initial thought was of how small the space was. I was expecting an expansive theater with lots of seating and space. However, it was quite small compared to my high school theatre. Given the massive size of the University of Florida, I was expecting it to match the grandness of the university's campus. Once the lights dimmed and the audience fell silent, a rush of anxiousness engulfed me as I waited for the stage to be lit. As the play progressed, I soon realized that the smaller size of the theater actually contributed to my overall experience. The smaller size of the theater made the play feel more personal and gave the audience the chance to really dive in and become lost in the set of the play. Having orchestra pit seats made my experience that much more memorable. By being in the front row, I really felt as though I was apart of the play, like I was one of the characters. In the same way people can effect our good life, places and there environments can also help teach us about our good life. Certain environments can inspire us to think or act a certain way.

Uncle Sam (1976) Sculpture by Willam King in the Constans's Theater Lobby

The Social Experience:

Best seats in the house

Initially I was going to go see the Divine on Thursday, January 28th, on one of the reserved Good Life performance dates. However, my friend Nicole Marie, a student here at the University of Florida not enrolled in the Good Life, showed an interest in attending the play. So, I decided to attend one of the non-Good Life only performances with her on the following night. By deciding to attend the play with a friend rather than on my own I feel as though it enhanced my overall experience of the play significantly. I not only had a familiar face to keep me company during the play but also someone to share the experience with and discuss the complexity of the play. During intermission and afterwards during the "talk back" with the actors, we discussed what we thought of the play and compared our interpretations of the different scenes in the play. Attending the Divine with Nicole made me realize the importance of shared experiences in the good life. Without shared experiences, I don't think it would be possible for one to reach their good life per say. Everyone around us influences us in someway whether intentional or not. Every encounter and interaction we have with someone can shift our path to reaching our good life, and by sharing experiences, we make them more memorable and meaningful. Like Siddhartha, the more interactions with different people he had, the more he was able to realize what his good life was.

Nicole (left) and I

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

the DIVINE UNCOVERING societal injustices

The Divine takes place in Quebec City, in the early 1900's and addresses some very serious and complex issues. The central issue addressed in the play is the societal injustices that society attempts to hide. Women work in inhuman conditions in factories with insufficient salary. Children are being put to work and are being killed in machinery accidents (as is the case with Leo). Even the church, a place of vulnerability, forgiveness and openness attempts to cover the sins of sexual, child abuse committed by one of their ministers. Honestly, I did not know much about this subject matter prior to the performance. I had heard of cruel work conditions, but did not realize and completely understand the extent of work-related injury and abuse that occurred. This play helped me understand the social injustices the working class had to endure, and created a greater sympathy for those who have suffered from such. This play helped me see that everyone holds pain and commits misdeeds. Even the ministers of the church fell to commit heinous crimes. Even those we charge with taking care of our morality are subject to fail.

The Emotional Experience:

"The Divine" does deal with controversial societal laws and rules of the current time. Typically, the wealthier class did not understand the needs of the lower class, and blinded themselves to the lower classes' trials. The church, a sacred place, a place of peace and holiness, is revealed as rampant with sin. The church is no different from the rest of immoral society. This revelation, specifically, is most profound. The audience, society, is forced to observe, and eventually come to terms, with this notion: there is nowhere that one can escape the injustices of society. All are equally likely to fail regardless of sex, religion, profession, or social status. As the audience accustoms themselves with and eventually accept this idea, this katharsis occurs. We come clean of our misdeeds as a society; we can see our wrongs for what they truly are and understand that we all are guilty of something. The upper-class who view the play can understand how their inaction, silence, and segregation in relation to the lower class negatively affects society as a whole. Those of the church can see how their silence, their refusal to come clean of their deeds can emotionally traumatize others, such as the sexually abused Talbot. "The Divine" clearly addresses these injustices and offers society the chance to examine their actions, and to think about their role in society, not as individuals alone, but collectively as a group of people. This katharsis addresses that we are all human and capable of error, and it is up to us to attempt to minimize injustice in search of peace, happiness, and the good life.

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Samantha Albino

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