Me (right) and my roommate Hannah (left) outside the theatre before going in to see the play
I did not know much about the Constans Theatre prior to my viewing for the Good Life class, so I decided to attend The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt with my roommate, Hannah, who had seen a few performances there already. We got ready together in our dorm room, putting on makeup and skirts, before setting out for the Reitz Union building. I remember there were a lot of people gathered outside the theatre lobby waiting in line to get in and taking pictures outside for this assignment. We, of course, took ours as well before jumping in line to enter and get our seats.
Me and Hannah in our seats before the show
By a stroke of luck, Hannah and I got some of the best seats in the place: right smack in the middle of the theatre. This was great because if we had been too close we would have had to turn around in our seats to see the actors when they came into the aisles. This theatre was a tad smaller than other theatres I have been to, but I believe the smaller space actually enhanced my experience by making me feel closer to the events on the stage. I noticed as the lights dimmed that several people still had their phones out and lit up. It's hard for me to believe that at this level of education people still lacked respect for performance/audience interactions, and I think that may carry over into other aspects of their life. In order to have a good life, it is important that one should act responsibly according to where they are.
As I've stated previously, I attended the play with my roommate Hannah, but During the intermission of the play I saw some of my other friends. Way down in the front sat a girl I am in the FVE with, and sitting in between were some of my high school friends. I hadn't made plans to see it on the same night as them, but the fact that we did made it easy to discuss our opinions of the play afterward, and it will also be a good memory for all of us to remember in the future. Shared memories strengthen the connection between people.
The story and issues addressed in the Divine are issues that still influence our world today. The topics of industrial era factory conditions and the power and influence of the church are not ones that I will claim to have vast knowledge of, but their portrayal in the play reminded me of the way some things are in America right now. In the play, the factory owner disregards the safety and well being of his workers in order to gain a profit and maintain his image. This is not at all unlike the rich and powerful people of today: owners and doners of large corporations who prioritize money over the greater good of the general population. While it is not my intention to get into politics here, I can't deny the similarities between the factory owner and our new president. Furthermore, despite great strides in public acceptance and critical thinking, religion is still used in manipulative ways. I personally am an Atheist, that is, I do not practice any religion or spirituality whatsoever and I never have, so admittedly I know very little about the working of the Catholic church or any church for that matter. What I do know is that many people are still shamed by their religious communities for things they have done that are deemed sinful. There was also the matter of sexual assault, which was revealed in a quite heart-wrenching scene. This is a problem, that as an 18 year old female living on a college campus, I am sad to say I worry about on a weekly basis. Victim silencing is a large plot development in the play's story, and the truth is that it still happens. Once again I bring up our new president - someone who basically admitted to having abused his fame and power to keep multiple women quiet about his unwanted advances towards them. The fact that America still put him in office makes a huge statement about our culture, but I will leave the details of that up to your imagination.
The beautiful thing about theatre, and really all forms of art, is its ability to make us think. I definitely left this performance with a much different attitude than I had going into it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I don't think I can say I really liked the play as a whole, but I appreciated the excellent talent of the actors and actresses who performed it, as well as the fact that it plunged us into a conversation about the problems with our society. In my opinion, those conversations can lead to real change, so it's a good thing we all had to see it. This kind of play is supposed to make you uncomfortable, and it certainly achieved that goal.