The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt Ting Wang

The Spatial Experience

Bulletin inside the lobby of the Constans Theatre

As I entered J. Wayne Reitz Union, I could feel the anxiety building up. I'd never seen a live play before, so it was amazing for me to experience my first one with my fellow classmates. As the staff checked our IDs, I could slowly see the dark room ahead of me. I walked in and was pointed to my seat, front and center. I could see and hear everything clearly. I was able to feel the actors' emotions through their physical motions and facial expressions. Sitting with my friend, I could feel the excitement. It's true that I wouldn't have seen the play if it wasn't a requirement for class, but I'm glad that it was. At the moment when the lights dimmed and the room quieted, I felt goosebumps. The size of the auditorium made the actors' voices echo, and with the echo, the emotions had a bigger impact on me. The role of place in the Good Life is to enhance the experience as much as possible physically.

The Social Experience

Before the performance

I attended the play with my friend and roommate. To get ready for the performance, I dressed semi-business, as my roommate did as well. My friends weren't that interested in the play, so it depressed me a little that I was the only one excited about it. During the play, my roommate and my friend were bored. I feel sorry to say this, but one of them almost fell asleep. But I was able to pay attention to the play. However, I was glad that there was an intermission for me to talk and stretch, because the play was very long. Attending the play with my friends didn't really enhance my experience. Of course I enjoyed it, but I was the only one that really enjoyed it. The shared experiences in the Good Life can sometimes help you enjoy it more. However, sometimes, they can dampen your mood and ruin the experiences for you.

After the performance

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

Pamphlet/guide given at the beginning of the play

I knew that during this time, women worked in factories along with children. They had to work all day, for long hours, without any breaks. They had little pay. Their bosses would treat them poorly. Child labor was a big thing during this time. Many places, such as industrial factories, had dangerous machinery that could often injure, as well as kill, the children working there. The environment around them were bad as well, as pollution filled the air. Though there were laws slowly being put in place to help regulate the work hours, bosses would hire children secretly and put them to work. If children died, they would just hire new ones and cover up the deaths. The central issue addressed in the performance was the contrast between the lives of two men who were in different social classes and had different perspectives and experiences. One came from a wealthy family while the other had his mother and younger brother work in a shoe factory. The performance made the issues in the past more personal as you see into their lives and their emotions. You see how the deaths and how they affect the families up close. The subject matter does not have a relationship to something happening in my own life (thankfully).

The Emotional Experience

Art in lobby of Constans Theatre

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt gives us a chance to "come clean" by allowing us to remind ourselves the better things of life. Everyone experiences something in their life that causes their life to go astray. In the play, there was sexual assault, death of multiple children, cruel labor, etc. These topics are definitely socially uncomfortable. By facing these topics in the play, we can reflect and learn from the past, which is important when it comes to being human and being happy. By providing us an opportunity for katharsis, The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt allows a clean slate after confessions, reflections, and forgiveness.

Art in lobby of Constans Theatre

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