The Divine Abby Solomon

The Spatial Experience

As I entered the auditorium after waiting in line in the lobby, the temperature seemed to drop a few degrees. Ushers waited at each side of the auditorium to guide students to their respective seats. I was led to a seat in the middle section, somewhat toward the back. I have attended several Broadway shows in large theaters, so the Constans Theatre is actually a bit small compared to the ones to which I'm accustomed. For me, this made the performance a little more intimate. The performers would walk the aisles and sometimes enter from the back, which I had never experienced before. The small size of the theater seems just right for a play like The Divine.

The Social Experience

Even just as I walked into the lobby of the Constans Theatre, I instantly felt underdressed. While many other girls were wearing dress pants, skirts, or even dresses, I came dressed in a t-shirt and black jeans. Although I knew people normally dressed up for Broadway shows, I did not expect so many students to dress up for a small play. I met up and sat with my friend, Hannah, and her roommate, Shelby. The three of us were respectful and did not talk throughout the play, and thankfully neither did the people around us. Watching the show with other people who would collectively laugh and occasionally gasp at the events unfolding on the stage enhanced my social experience.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

In the play, there were a few central social issues that were addressed. "The Divine" is set in the early 1900s Canada, with the main struggles being between religion and theatre. The protagonist, Michaud, aspires to write a play, however his position in the church is a roadblock for this goal. Additionally, the bishop wishes to silence Sarah and disallow her from performing, but she perseveres to continue to be able to perform. We also see struggles with child labor — Talbot's younger brother, who should be in school, is working in a factory alongside other children. The factory boss goes out of his way to hide this fact, and doesn't seem to care that forcing children to work at such a young age is dangerous and unethical. These issues can be related back to present day because children are definitely still being exploited in countries that are not first-world. We do not see religion prohibiting the performances of plays like we do in The Divine, but the way that Sarah spoke out against the "oppressor" and made a controversial statement is similar to current political events. For instance, that can be paralleled to the Women's March and other outcries against the government. The Divine is timeless and has deep meaning that will be prevalent for a while.

The Emotional Experience

As Sarah says herself in the play, theatre is a medium of social expression. It is a way for messages about societal issues to be communicated to large groups of people through methods that might reach to them on a deeper emotional level of understanding. In the play, we are able to achieve katharsis through the way it forces us to examine the less-than-noble qualities about humanity. It forces us to consider the children who are being over-worked in factories in a different country somewhere, and it forces us to consider the social problems that we face this day that can be related back to the problems that happened in the play. Even without thinking about the deeper meaning from the play that can be applied to society, the story leaves the audience to consider it on a surface-level as well. How would we react to the situations in the characters' shoes? How did each character and plot make us feel? The emotional experience is like none other in how we are able to immerse ourselves in another world and become attached to it.

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