The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt A Constans Theatre Experience by Yislen Felipes

Top & lower left photos: Entrance of the Theatre inside the Reitz Union. Lower right photos: box office in lobby.

The Spatial Experience

Inside the Constans Theatre (source:

Having been to the Constans Theatre before, I was not experiencing its beauty for the first time, so I was aware of its size and feel. Like the first time, I thought the art in the lobby was absolutely beautiful and contributed to the good feeling that already comes with going to the theatre (for me, at least). Furthermore, I am still in awe whenever I walk into the theatre because it is relatively small when comparing it to what I am accustomed to seeing in my hometown, Miami. The center for the performing arts in Miami is huge and cold, so coming to the compact and warmth of the Constans theatre is always a welcomed experience because it feels more personal and private. I sat in the third row, which guaranteed a great view and greater connection with the actors on stage. Nonetheless, there was one flaw for this performance that was a bit of an inconvenience. In a few instances of the play, the actors walked behind us, and shifting in seats was a bit noisy and uncomfortable due to the limited space. But other than that, it was a great experience overall. Place plays a huge role in our journey towards the good life because environments are always affecting how people react to certain things. For example, growing up in a positive, healthy environment with loving parents might foster self-confidence compared to low self-esteem in those brought up in unhealthy, damaging environments.

The Social Experience

My plan was to see the play on my own after work. However, right as I was walking towards the entrance, I spotted a friend I had met last semester in First Year Florida. We are also taking Good Life with Dr. Nichols, but she was actually there for her Theatre Appreciation class, which I took last semester. After talking about both classes and our expectations for the play, we walked in, where, unfortunately, we were separated. Still, experiencing the play on my own was still worthwhile. I was able to fully connect with it instead of having distractions. However, I was able to debrief with my friend during intermission and after the show. Being in the company of others plays a vital role in achieving the Good Life. Experiencing something is great, but it means nothing when you have no one to share it with.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The performance showed plenty of raw emotion on a sensitive topic. It is one which is very necessary to hear because it is still taboo to talk about. The play acts as a great springboard to the topic of sexual abuse. Every day there are hundreds and thousands of victims of sexual abuse, but they are too afraid to come out and say it out of fear no one will believe them or their abuser will make matters worse. And the play not only shows the emotional ramifications of such abuse, but it also promotes that the abuse must be dealt with and the abuser must pay the price.

The Emotional Experience

Sarah Bernhardt in Shakespeare's Hamlet (source:
"gives audience an opportunity to look at itself to examine its less-than-noble qualities and in the process to ‘come clean’ about what it means to be human and to be happy." - Dr. Pagán

No one ever wants to speak about things that might upset others. We live in an increasingly relatively politically correct society, where we are often too careful not to hurt others' feelings. This is great in theory, but when it comes to the main issue the play tackled (sexual abuse), it is not okay. The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allowed for the conversation to be had. It tells us that this is something we cannot be afraid to talk about or fight. The characters of the play most certainly experience catharsis, which, in turn, allows the audience to reflect on itself to acknowledge those qualities that make it despicable (i.e. ignoring sexual abuse). I can only hope the play encourages a positive discussion of the issue and hopefully offers a way to motivate victims to come forward and to remove the societal stigma associated with sexual abuse.

Created By
Yislen Felipes

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