The DIVINE Life Cassidy Mandelbaum

Spatial Experience

Inside the Constans Theater - Photo by me

What were your feelings when you entered the building or the auditorium? It was surprisingly busy in the lobby. When I sat down inside the theater I was really excited because so many people had talked about how great the play was. The set was open to look in on, music was already playing and snow started falling behind the windows long before the play began. We were sitting on the row in the isle where the actors walk through during the first line. It was really engaging to get to be part of the actual play - in the audience of the play within-the-play. When the lights dimmed I was excited, partially because I had been waiting for a long time for the show to start and I happen to be a rather impatient person. The theater itself was a nice size - it was intimate enough that it was comfortable and you could see the actors faces clearly - the details of their costumes and expressions. You could hear everything and see the details of the set. I think in a smaller theater it may have been uncomfortable with the drama of Bernhardt's readings and in a larger theater some of that could have been lost. I think being in the right place at the right time and being comfortable in your surroundings, feeling like you belong is a big part of having a Good Life. For example, if you are lonely - you don't feel like you belong, you dislike where you live or can't see a way forward to your goals from the place where you are I don't think that would be the "Good Life".

Social Experience

Me outside Constans - Photo by my friend Ian Webb

I walked to the theater with a friend who didn't have a ticket but was able to get in anyway. I was really happy when he walked in because I got to move my seat from sitting next to the *likely intoxicated* stranger next to me asking about the logistics of leaving at Intermission. I did my makeup and got dressed in my dorm room. It was great to see the play with a friend (this friend especially because he is a fan of art and theater) because we were able to discuss the play afterwards. The engagement afterwards of talking and discussing what we thought of the play could possibly be as beneficial if not more so. We talked about the drama, who was the hero, who we did or did not like. We also talked about musicals and how different musicals are from plays. Going with a friend made the experience more comfortable, more friendly, and allowed me someone to have a deep discussion with. Shared experiences help us grow - you cannot get through life alone and learning is a shared process. Growth and learning are key aspects of a Good Life, as are community and belonging - things that sharing experiences foster.

Program - Photo by me

Cultural and Intellectual Experience

I never considered theater to be so interconnected or related to so many aspects of culture - history or the like. The cousin to all the muses. The idea of art being the window to society's psyche is something that I had been exposed to before, but the exemplification with the fear of showing the grit and grime and horror of poverty and human sin and the fact that the main character has to overcome the societal urge to hide away what he knows to be horrible and dark to show the world what he knows, was something I have never had such a great example of. The central issue was that art has to be protected and displayed (especially theater) because it teaches and enlightens, it exemplifies, and there is a struggle against theater throughout the play. Before coming to the play, I knew nothing about Sarah Bernhardt, and I still don't feel like I know that much about her because in all reality the play was FOR her not about her, her message not her life. I did know, however about the importance of theater and that in history there has often been a struggle between means of power (Governments and Religions) and theater companies/actors and artists. I was already a proponent of theater and the arts as a means for education, so I wouldn't necessarily say my views have changed but I would definitely say that I was moved by the play and it's message. I don't think this is necessarily related to my own life but I was moved by Sara's act of defiance and Michaud's act of righteousness to stand up for myself and to do what I think it right.

Oldest Building in Quebec City - Photo by my Mother (2015)

Emotional Experience

The Divine gives us an opportunity to slip into a multitude of characters - the fallen and broken seminary, the questioning seminary, the poor and tragic mother, the wealthy business man, the rich and dramatic actress, and the flirt (among others). We experience their trauma and their bliss - their experiences become our own and we feel for them as their emotions become so real to us that we pity even the smallest of concerns. The sense of relief when something good happens, the horror when something bad is revealed, the dread when a loved character makes a choice you know will lead to their downfall - the emotional roller coaster all leads to Catharsis. The characters are both so loveable and hatable all at the same time.

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