The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Alexa Zeilander

Alexa, Jamie and Sarah waiting on line to enter the Constans Theater

The Spatial Experience: Upon first entering the theater, ushers led me and my friends to the seats we would be watching the play in. We got there relatively early and got placed in the fifth row. While waiting for the lights to dim and the show to begin, I heard people around me whispering about what they thought this play was going to be about, and questioning when it was going to start. I had the same questions as all of these people: who is in this play? When will it begin? What is it about? While waiting, I noticed that the seats behind me filled up quickly and I realized how lucky I was to come early because my seat would later affect my show experience. I eventually got to see the actors/actresses up close and personal as they used the aisle in front of me throughout the play. As soon as the lights dimmed, I diverted all of my attention to the stage and was filled with great anticipation. All the previous questions I had been thinking about while waiting for this very moment were about to be answered. Watching the actors and actresses do what they do best amazed me because they looked so comfortable on that stage, in front of a big audience, playing a role that they had been practicing so long for. This to me is a perfect example of the role of place in the Good Life; when people are just happy and comfortable doing what they do best. For actors/actresses, being put on a stage in front of a plethora of strangers may help them open up and enhance their social/conversational skills.

Alexa, Jamie and Sarah holding up playbills during intermission

The Social Experience: I attended the play with my friends Sarah and Jamie. I enjoyed the company of my friends more than I thought I would. At first I thought their company would be more of a distraction to me than a benefit, but later I changed my mind. The three of us were actually interested in the play, preventing us from any side conversations. We also turned our phones off out of courtesy for all of the people that worked so hard to make this play happen. At the end, their company enabled me to share my thoughts and feelings about the play's series of events with other people, and also get a second and third opinion. Before getting to the theater, we all prepared by wearing casual clothing, researching a little bit on Sarah Bernhardt and of course reading the instructions on Canvas that was titled "Good Life Performance." The role of shared experiences in the Good Life is the sense of belonging and emotion that comes from conversations, experiences and memories shared with peers. Out of all of this may come feelings of happiness, excitement and even inclusion.

The Playbill feat. the stage at the Constans Theater

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience: Prior to the performance, I was educated about the Roman Catholic Church, unions and the hazardous working conditions of factories during this time period. All of these factors were relevant to the central issue of the story, which was whether or not Sarah Bernhardt would perform in the play that the church found to be “adulterous.” This play changed my view on the time period because I hadn’t realized before how similar schooling was to that of today. For example, Talbot was in a college-like setting where he was taking certain classes to be ordained a priest. This situation is similar to the one I’m in as a college student, taking certain classes to one day become a doctor. Another thing I didn’t realize before was how factories have evolved to become what they are today. Today, items are mass-produced in factories with large machines, meanwhile in the time period of the play, things were handmade and not as quickly produced. Most of what we have today has evolved overtime from less intricate forms and was developed to be more efficient.

Alexa and Jamie after the play ended

The Emotional Experience: The plot of this play provides viewers with more than just mere entertainment, but also with a lesson. After watching the play, I was able to understand how society can be so close-minded and how we must be open to accepting change and other people's truths/realities. The play used individuals similar to ourselves as students, such as Michaud and Talbot, with individual voices to show the power and influence we can really have on others. Seeing other people’s realities and being true to ourselves is something that we must experience everyday as students whether it be academically, socially or mentally. All of the messages relayed by this play aren’t to be looked past because of the difference in time period, but are to be embraced and continued to be taught throughout school.

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