Experiencing the Divine diana diaz venturo

The Spatial Experience

As I entered the building, I felt like I was reencountering an old friend. I took Oral Interpretation of Literature over summer this past year and I had to go to the Constans Theater for a show. The auditorium still gave a warm and welcoming sensation. I didn't get to choose my seat, I had to follow the line of students making their way down the auditorium and sit in order. Luckily, I sat in the very first row of the middle section of the auditorium. My seat was in the middle of the row as well. This provided me the perfect vision to see even the smallest details of the actors and set. When the lights dimmed and the audience quieted, I felt like everything was at ease. I was excited for the play to begin. I had a good and calming feeling about the show. The size of the auditorium was just about right for a full length show with a multitude of students. However, since it fairly vast, it did feel less personal than a blackbox show would. I've seen two blackbox shows and both of them made me feel closer to the play that was being performed due to the proximity of the audience and cast.

The role of place in the Good Life allows people to create feelings and attachments to locations. In this case, the Constans Theater always brings me a comforting and soothing vibe. Depending on a person's perception of a place, the certain memories associated with the place that will help them decide whether or not to visit that place again. I go on road trips every winter break with my family and almost all of the states I have visited have left a sweet memory within me. I know that when I go again I will feel the same sensations I felt before.

Artwork of the founder of the Florida Players, Henry Philip Constans. Photography taken by Diana Diaz Venturo via iPhone 6.

The Social Experience

To get ready for the performance, I read a background on The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt. This helped me prepare for what was to come. I attended the performance with one of my friends who is also taking Good Life. I met her through Instagram one day because of the UF2020 hashtag. Attending the play with her helped me explore more about the play because we were able to share our thoughts on something we both witnessed. It was also fun and helpful to attend the play with her because we always have a good time together and we had each other to take pictures with/of.

The role of shared experiences in the Good Life is to provide both reassurance and new ideals for a person. By experiencing the same thing as someone, you are able to discuss your sentiments on the topic and see if you disagree of agree with each others thoughts. During this play, Madie and I both shared that the play was longer than usual plays we've watched, however; we both enjoyed the metaphor that outlined the play. Shared experiences make for a topic of conversation with people you don't even know!

Madie and I outside of the theater after the play ended. Photography taken by Diana Diaz Venturo via iPhone 6.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The play takes place during the 20th century in Quebec City. The two main issues in throughout the play were dealing with censorship and the oppression of the Catholic church. In addition, the play consisted of the majority of the characters fighting against their own beliefs for the benefit of the whole society. Before attending the performance, I knew about the numerous cases against the Catholic church that rose in the 1900s. Inclusively, I've watched the Academy Award winning film, Spotlight, that exposed abuse of children by Catholic priests. During my history classes throughout high school, I've come to understand the concept of censorship and the problems that may follow it. The performance only strengthened my sympathy for those who experienced oppression because of the Catholic church and for those who sacrifice their own opinions for the greater good.

Seeing plays or movies with this content is always hard because I am Catholic. It's hard to think that a religion that I practice is associated with specific cruel situations. Additionally, I also feel a tie to the main theme of the play: sacrificing one's beliefs for the greater good. I know there have been times where I have volunteered to do things that I didn't want to but I did anyways because it would benefit multiple people.

Theatrical release poster of Spotlight. Source: Wikipedia.org Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spotlight_(film)

The Emotional Experience

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provides an opportunity for katharsis because it exposes the experiences people face that allow for shifts on perspectives. Whenever people go through traumatizing experiences, they often will live their lives based on those experiences and the emotions attached to them. The play unravels what the Good Life means for everyone based on the decisions they make. For example, Michaud suppresses his love for the theater in order to stay loyal to the Catholic church. He constantly comes out of the role that he plays as a seminarian and enacts in dramatic dialogue of the events going on around him. In the end, he is able to pursue his true love by writing a play for Sarah Bernhardt despite his internal struggle. At the same time, he managed to achieve justice for Talbot. He was able to get the written confession of the priest who abused of Talbot to help liberate Talbot from his constant pain.

The "coming clean" aspect of the play revealed what people may or may not do for the sake of others depending on their perception of the Good Life.

Selfie with portrait in Constans lobby. Photography taken by Diana Diaz Venturo via iPhone 6.
Written permission to use picture with Madie.
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Diana Diaz
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