My Inner Experiences of "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" By Meredith Lilley

The Spatial Experience

As I drove by the Constans theatre, all lit up with light blue, my whole demeanor became more serious. As I walked in the theatre I really didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, the most professional play I’ve been to was put on by my high school, so I was surprised by the assigned seating and formality of the event. The room was dim, creating a very intimate feel. The darkness of the theatre also gave me an appreciation for the stage. The background looked like stained glass and was the only illumination in the theatre. I was towards the back facing left of the stage— I had a very clear view of the entire set. Right before the lights went fully dark I took a look around and noticed the theatre was almost at full capacity. The theatre wasn’t small, so for it to be filled was shocking, but It made me happy. I was filled in a room with my peers, almost all my age, doing the same thing as me— it gave me a comfort level. Although this was the case in the theatre, its the same in life. The role of “place” in the Good Life contributes to one’s comfort level and performance. Being comfortable is related to one’s mood, lifestyle, happiness, and directly associated with the Good Life.

The Social Experience

The social and spatial experience are connected in my mind. I went to the play with my friend Taylor Johnson, we hung out before the play and talked about what we should look out for while there. If it wasn’t for going with her I would’ve had a totally different experience. I would’ve known no one and felt uncomfortable. We were both pleased with how serious the workers were and how silent the theater was— it added to the overall experience. If someone was talking, you could pin point them out. Sharing experiences with people is essential to growing as a person which is essential to coming to know the “Good Life.” Specifically, Taylor and I both hadn’t been to a play since our high school careers and have a funny selfie to laugh over forever. A shared experience, good or bad, helps create friendships, stories, and experiences that all contribute to the search for the Good Life.

The Cultural and Intellectual EXPERIENCE

The full domination of the Catholic church was in effect during this time period of the earlier 1900’s. Sarah is presented with two requests from the archbishop to not step foot on stage in Quebec because of the inappropriate role she would play. Prior to the show, I knew very little about the history of Quebec during 1905 besides what I read in the study guide. Religion not only ruled Quebec-- it terrorized them. During the talk back section, the actors said they learned about the history surrounding the play before they learned their character's part. The emotions they displayed during the show wouldn’t have been as convincing and real if the actors weren’t educated on the history surrounding the time period. Since this play, I have become more grateful for my culture and the values I’ve grown up on. Although, oppression is still prevalent in America, no archbishop would personally stand in the way of a women and her performance in the theatre. Along with the lack of personal rights in this play, the issues of working condition was shown. The sweatshops and working conditions were inhumane. Sarah had boundaries, even if she didn’t follow them, to what she could and couldn’t do. Personally in my life, I don’t say what I feel enough and Sarah has inspired me in a way to speak out more.

The Emotional Experience

"The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" dives deep into Dr. Pagán’s points on the social, political, religious, and cultural issues a play can expose. By exposing each one of the flaws present in Quebec during this time period in the play, it becomes possible to “come clean” or reach katharsis. Socially, the working conditions were pitiful and portrayed through the sweatshops. Politically, the church was running everything including the hospitals. The church had dominant control displayed by the archbishops attempt to order Sarah not to perform. Religiously, the fundamental values of the Catholic church were skewed portrayed through living conditions and trying to control everyone. Lastly, the overall issues of the play and the feelings it gives exposes the cultural issues. "The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt" is a very influential and powerful work of art that will be prevalent in all of history.

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