The divine: a play for sarah bernhardt Jessica Smith

All photos were taken on my phone before and after the show.

The Spatial Experience:

What were your feelings when you entered the building or the auditorium? How did your seat location affect your experience? How did you feel when the lights dimmed and the audience quieted? How did the size of the auditorium contribute to your experience? What is the role of place in the Good Life?

When I entered the auditorium I felt excited to see an actual play. There wasn't a big crowd or a rush to get in because I arrived early for a nice seat. I was siting in the third row. Being in the front section did enhance my theater experience because I could see the acting and details closer in person. In addition there were less distractions when I was sitting in the front. Being in the front provided a better way for me to focus on the stage rather than the audience. My seat location required me to turn around when the characters entered the audience and walking up the stairs. I didn't mind turning around to watch the characters because I felt that I was interacting with the play. I didn't pay too much attention to the size of the audience. I didn't notice the audience until the intermission and I left to go to the restroom. The role of the place was to help set the atmosphere and enhance the play ambiance. The auditorium provided a great location for someone who was seeing a play for the first time.

The Social Experience:

With whom did you attend the performance? What did you do to get ready for the performance? How did attending with friends enhance your experience? What is the role of shared experiences in the Good Life?

I attended the performance with two of my friends. To get ready for the performance my friends and I read the synopsis of the play and arrived at the play 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Attending with friends made the experience more fun and better overall because it gave me a chance to talk to someone else about the play during the intermission. The brief discussion provided a great recap of what I may have missed or didn't pay close attention to. In addition, going with friends made taking pictures more fun. In the Good Life we remember memories we have with others. The Good Life is about spending time with friends and family. I think shared experiences, good or bad, creates something common with others and can lead to a bond.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

Consider the time and place of the story. What was the central issue addressed in the performance? What did you know about the subject matter before attending performance? How did the performance change your views about the issues described in the performance? Does the subject matter have a relationship to something happening in your own life?

The main conflict was between the church and the theater portraying "adulterous love" in 1905. The church sent a letter to Sarah Bernhardt that she's not allow to show her play but she fought back to have her play go on. I didn't know anything about the problems the church had with subject matter the theater portrayed. I figured the church had enough influence during the time period where no one would try to challenge the beliefs or portray "unholy" work. The play also addressed the lifestyle of people living in poverty versus what higher class people understand about poverty.

In relation to my life the play reminded me of a conversation I had in high school. There was a kid that made fun of me because my phone was a basic flip phone instead of an iPhone. I confronted the kid and asked him why he was bothering me about my phone. He said because "Because you have a flip phone, that's for babies. Why you don't have an iPhone?" I couldn't believe how ignorant he was. I explained to him, "You think I want a this phone? I can't afford an iPhone!" He stood there dumbfounded. My life experience was similar to the scene when Mrs. Talbot said "people think we like being poor" to Michaud. It's sad how some people think that poor people don't try to make a better life for themselves and their family by getting out of their financial situation.

Even though we have the same money currency, we all value money differently. The other day I was talking to my friend about how much it costs to fill up our gas tanks. She didn't know how much it costed to fill her gas with car even though she has been driving it for awhile. I didn't understand why she didn't know. My friend said she pays with her credit card but nonetheless that didn't explain why she didn't know. She went on saying her parents pay for her gas. I told her I pay for my own gas. My parents raised me to take care of my own responsibilities including having a job and paying my own bills. A simple conversation shows how we value money differently.

The Emotional Experience:

As Dr. Pagán explains in her online lectures on the Antigone, theatre presents “topics that are socially uncomfortable, politically contentious, religiously irreverent, or culturally radical.” Theatre “gives the 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.” Katharsis is the Greek word for process of “coming clean.” How does The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt provide us an opportunity for katharsis?

The play came clean in addressing molestation and child labor. As college students we may not see or experience child labor abuse but someone may have experience molestation. Talbot did not want to bring attention to what really happened to him. He wanted to just go through with his training to become a priest. And in reality many victims of molestation would rather forget what happened happened and move on with their lives even though talking about would be a better solution. To make matters worse, we don't know who was a victim because they are afraid about what would happen, the embarrassment and getting the unwanted attention. This play provides us the opportunity to bring to light issues that should be known.

That's all folks!

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Jessica Smith
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