The Cultural and Intellectual Experience
The Divine a Play for Sarah Bernhardt takes a deep look into the subject matters of art, religion, and industrialism. The social inequality depicts a dreary existence with very few opportunities of upward mobility. The factory manager's speech in which he depicts a world that does not care a fig for the untold suffering it takes to manufacture goods so long as they are cheap has striking relevance today. One cannot help but look down and think about all the clothes, phones, and other useless baubles that are made at slave labor in other countries in order to be sold at a low price; it was even mentioned briefly in the talk back post-show. The play is not afraid to expose the hypocrisy of mankind and as a result causes its audience to think about their own lives and way in which we might be able to live genuinely.
The spatial experience in watching the Divine a Play for Sarah Bernhardt was a cramped one. I had managed to get a seat incredibly close to the seat and it became apparent that the theater was going to be completely full. This constricted environment made every motion in the crowd spread like a wildfire. A snicker from one member of audience as a result of one of the character's outlandish actions would cause the entire theater to follow suit. The theater plays is prime example of how location plays a crucial role in defining the good life. Though space was somewhat constricted everybody had an equal opportunity to experience and enjoy the show from their own unique perspectives.
The emotional Experience
The Divine a Play for Sarah Bernhardt taps into and manages to evoke a wide spectrum of emotions. Chiefly among them is a sense of disdain for the hypocrisy present in Sarah Bernhardt, Michaud, and Brother Casgrain. The amount of contradictions between the ideals they profess to have and the actions they take in their lives is incredibly distasteful upon first introduction. As the play progresses we begin to see the struggles each character faces and how they each are striving to do what they see as right. After these motives become fully fleshed out there is a certain sense of catharsis felt as a result of seeing humanity in all of its good and evil. This message could not be made more clearer then when Michauld quotes Voltaire "Man is half violator and half victim."
The Social Experience
I attended the play alone. The play itself was not much of social experience for myself personally. The talk-back post-show, however, was more of genuine social experience as a dialogue between the cast and the audience opened up. The most interesting response given by the cast had to have been when they began talk about the theater as both a way to entertain and inform. The ability for the theater to reach people without being overt and forceful about it is the art forms true strength.