The Divine A Play for Sarah Bernhardt

The Spatial Experience

At first sight, I could already tell the theatre had its own sense of pride; modern, grand, and spectacular were a few of the only words I could amass. The entrance of the theatre felt like the portal to another dimension. I went from an expansive scenery that is the Reitz, through a tunnel, and then ended up in a massive auditorium with seats farther than the eye could see. I felt like all my worries had melted off and I was in a completely new place, a place that I could relax and let my imagination run free. I established myself in a very comfortable seat, one where I could directly feel the actors emotions, smell their sweat, and see every detail on the stage. Sitting so close made it all the more dramatic when the lights dimmed and the other spectators hushed down. The suspense was so tangible it probably could've with scissors. Finally, the main actress, Sarah Bernhardt made an appearance. The size of the auditorium made it seem a few times more dramatic than it should have been. You could probably hear her mesmerizing voice from every corner of the auditorium. This size also helped me transfer my mind to the setting of the play, just because it looked like nothing I have ever seen before. Setting is a huge contributor in the Good Life, because it is the very beginning; The setting sets the mood, it is the first impression of any story.

The Social Experience

When I first heard about this assignment, I automatically decided that I would be going by myself, so I did. I thought that going alone would allow me to perceive the meaningful play with thinking only, that I would not let my interpretation be influenced by friends or others (however after the play I spoke to various colleagues in order to draw from their thoughts and solidify my point of view). I attended the play completely alone, to the mercy of strangers that would soon be my seat-mates. Throughout the play, various strangers around me would have entertaining reactions and give their input. This made the play more enjoyable. To prepare for the performance I studied a synopsis of the play, reviewed a brief history about theatre and church, and then analyzed the time period the play was in. I think attending by myself and then after discussing with my friends was the optimal option. It allowed me to truly express myself, and then after let me compare my opinion with others, and in the process molding my experience to maximum capacity. This was touched upon in the touchback. The actors themselves said it was extremely important to incorporate the view points of others in your thinking, and by doing so will allow us to understand concepts that were originally out of our comprehension. The role of shared experiences in the Good Life is extremely important. It allows us to communicate our thoughts to one another and transform our thoughts into something more complex than what we would have been able to do on our own. However, there are somethings in life that must be experienced on our own to better ourselves and be fulfilled, such as mediation.

The Cultural and Intellectual Experience

The Divine helped me appreciate my culture for what it truly is. It helps me understand that I am fortunate enough to live in a world where social injustice is not present around me and that different factions, such as church and theatre, are able to coexist in harmony. Before the play, I was not aware of how extreme poverty was in this time period and how much effort it took to put food on the table. In fact, someone in the audience asked the actors how they felt playing the impoverished family. They said playing the role was very saddening at times because becoming one with the character meant they completely understood how unjust and unfair the system was in the past, and how many people were practically put into slavery for pennies an hour. Furthermore, I became aware that corruption can occur on all levels of society, and in the case of the performance it was the church. This was exemplified when Casgrain is forced to extreme means, such as threatening Balton and bribing him, in order to cover face for the church. The Divine truly allows us to see what reality is, and how some put maximum effort in order to overcome this reality and live a good life. This effort is mainly personified in Leo, who works his hardest in order to push Talbot through the seminary and into success. The play allowed me to come to terms with how unfair the past was, how seeking a good life is displayed through different personas, and that society can be a huge barrier in this process. This subject matter connects to me on a personal level because I have a friend who struggles financially and lives paycheck to paycheck. I could never put myself in his shoes, but this play has allowed me to connect to him in a more understanding sense.

The Emotional Experience

The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt was the very embodiment of katharsis. The play came clean with everything wrong with society (back then and now), with no attempts to sugar coat any topic. The performance allowed us to view to the problems at their best. For example, I was very impacted and furious with the topic of social injustice when Leo died. Its almost like I felt the pain of all those who had been, and are, suffering from this injustice. Also, I would have never thought that the Church would be subject to corruption and underhanded means, like bribery. Its almost as if the play gave me glasses in order to view all these problems in society clearly. Additionally, it almost felt like the actors were guiding me to the good life. They presented all the grave problems in their performance and in a way indirectly told me avoid these issues in order to be happy.

Created By
Daniel Garanton


Created with images by Son of Groucho - "Ramshorn Theatre 1"

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