The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Ryan Bahng

The Spatial Experience:

Walking into the theater, the first thing I noticed was the size. The smallness of the theater made the performance seem more intimate and up close. One thing that especially made it seem up close and personal was in the beginning of the play when Sarah Bernhardt made her entrance and was shaking the hands of some of the people sitting in the front row. My seat location was on the lefthand side of the middle section, about halfway up. This was a good location because it was not too close, but not too far back. I felt like the stage was right at eye level and i didn't have to look too far up or down to see the stage like some seats in a movie theater. There was not a full audience which made the performance seem even more intimate. Before the performance started, it was pretty loud from talking, but as the lights dimmed it immediately silenced which made me feel engaged. Everyone understands this signal of dimming the lights which I feel engages everyone.

The Social Experience:

Maddie and I outside the Constans Theater
Me, Chynna Smith, Abby Halem, and Maddie Chmelir in the lobby of the theater.

Every Wednesday Maddie and I go to the gym at 5:00 P.M. Since the performance started at 7:15, we went to the gym then both went back to my dorm to shower, get ready, and eat. After we finished getting ready, we met Chynna and Abby at the theater. I liked going with friends because we would all have different experiences and we would all be able to talk about it and compare afterwards. I was on the end of our group when we sat down so I was also next to a stranger, but this did not really affect my experience on the play.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

My hometown Catholic Church —

This story took place in the 1900s, when Catholicism prevailed in Quebec. Because Quebec was very conservative during this time period, the archbishop was not going to allow Sarah Bernhardt to perform during her visit to Quebec because they thought she might publicly go against the Catholic morals. Growing up in a Catholic environment, even though it was not this strict, allows me to relate to this situation. Catholic school had very strict rules in place to uphold conservative morals. Sarah presents the idea to the people of Quebec to embrace change and tells them that it is not a bad thing to break from the social norms that have been set years ago by the Catholic church. I used to share a lot of the same views as the Catholic school taught, but as I grew older, I realized that just because people do not have Catholic morals does not make them bad people. This play furthered this idea because Sarah Bernhardt was preaching a similar thing. Breaking from the status quo was not a bad thing, rather it helps people grow through viewing different perspectives.

The Emotional Experience:

Caterpillar growing and changing into a butterfly —

The Divine allows catharsis to occur because Sarah Bernhardt challenges old school beliefs. If someone with the strict beliefs similar to those of the time period were to watch this, they would have been forced to think about everything that was happening and reevaluate their own beliefs. Some could say this is "religiously irreverent" because it challenged the Catholic church, but introducing new beliefs and ideas should not be compromising to one's faith, rather it should allow people to get a different view on the world. The play creates a story and a real life situation that gets the audience engaged, which is a more effective method to place people in the situation to induce catharsis.


Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.