The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt - Luke Pfeiffer

For this common activity, I went to a play called The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt. I had never been to a play before so I was kind of nervous and was not sure what to expect. "What if I clap at the wrong time?" "What if I don't understand the play?" "I don't think I will really be into watching plays" were all thoughts running through my mind.


To get ready for the performance, I began to mentally prepare myself for the event. I am not usually one for plays and events like that but I tried to improve my attitude about the whole thing. I began to think that the play would be fun and a good experience for someone who's major has little to nothing to do with the arts. I put on some of my business casual clothes and headed to the theater. Me being me, I assumed the performance was in the same building as the performance over the summer so I ended up at the wrong building. Already running a little late, I had to catch a bus to the Constans Theater. Since I was a little late, I didn't get to pick my seat next to some friends and enjoyed the performance on my own (that's what the picture symbolizes). However, although sitting among strangers, having tons of audience members made the play seem more lively. The roar of the audience when a joke was said, the clapping between scene transitions, and even the gasps when one of the main characters acted irrationally. Seeing everyone else have an amazing time at the performance greatly improved my mood and made the experience as a whole much better. A shared experience with many people makes the good life that much greater. A gem enjoyed by one is good, but a gem enjoyed by many is even greater and I believe the same applies to one's search for the good life. If everyone is happy, then happiness is even better.


Since I was arriving late as mentioned above, I was frustrated with myself the moment I entered the theater. However, when I finally was seated in the auditorium, it all changed. I was in awe. There were hundreds of people already seated in anticipation of the play and there was slight chatter. I felt blessed to be able to be in such a beautiful setting, sharing it with many other people. The shear size of the theater (although not the biggest in the world by no means) was humbling to me. The structure and the set of the performance were pretty. My seat was near the back of the auditorium but I think that was to my advantage. I was able to see the whole play without having to turn my head an absurd amount of times. I could take in the whole seen and focus my eyes rather than moving my whole head. Speaking of spatial area, I think that place has everything to do with the good life. For example, had the theater been small, dingy, and overall unpleasant, no matter how good the performance, the experience would have been lacking. The same goes for someone's life. Living in a city that is on the brink of poverty or has no life outside of work, would render someone's life much less pleasant, no matter how good all other aspects of one's life are.


The time period the play was set in was during the early 1900s when factory worker's safety mattered not and child labor laws did not exist. The play was set in a large city with many factories. One of the major issues in the play was the wealthy's view on poverty. Those who lived in poverty lead the most humble lives filled with hardship. The rich only read of books on the subject of poverty and seemingly gained amusement from the dirty factories that these people were forced to work in. The rich in the play had no empathy for those who happened to be less fortunate than themselves, having not been born with a silver spoon in hand. My view on the subject is still much the same as before the play. Many wealthy people seem to have the mindset that people with less capital did not work hard enough to get it (even though most wealth comes from old money, but that is another story) rather than that they just happen to live in unfortunate circumstances. The play simply reaffirmed my belief that that is a problem in today's society. This belief has a very direct relationship to my life right now. I was born into a family that lived paycheck to paycheck with no real way of advancing economically. The fact that that is where I was born is not my fault (not that I regret it, I will always remember where I am from and love my family). To say that I was born into that because I deserve it is absurd in my opinion.


The main character is given an opportunity to move forward in life from his family. They make many sacrifices to put him through priest school. To repay them, he steals expensive property. His kid brother disagreed with stealing and told him to return the stolen good immediately. This gives him an opportunity of katharsis. He has to look at himself and ask is he a good person for committing a crime to better his family's life? Maybe, maybe not. But whether or not he is a good person is besides the point, he had to look at himself and decide if he was a good person. This scene in the performance also allows the audience members to do the same. I, and I'm sure others in the audience, thought about whether he was in the right to steal the goods. After much deliberation, some decided that he was in the wrong and some, myself included, said he was in the right. "Was it ok to cheat on that test?", "Was it wrong to lie to a friend", "Was I in the wrong when I punched that man?". We all make decisions that may not be the best but at the end of the day the decisions are our own and we are going to have to live with that. We can either regret our decisions forever or understand it was a bad choice and move forward with life. The play gave us a little taste of some of the katharsis that is a part of everyone's lives.

In conclusion, I did not think I was going to like the play. After watching it, I have come to love performance and hope to see more and more of them in the future!

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