The Divine: a Play for Sarah Bernhardt by: Rachel Wagner

Spatial Experience:

When my friend and I arrived at the Reitz Union, we followed the long line of people into the Constans Theater. We waited briefly before being ushered into the theater. We sat on the rightmost side of the theater right by the right entrance where many of the actors and actresses came in and out during the play. I enjoyed the stage and the lights and scenery and it made me feel like we were not in a theater but really watching a story play out in front of us. The stage scenery was detailed yet plain enough to still leave work for the imagination. Because we were so close to the stage, it felt very personal and neat to feel like we were watching the story so closely. Space is very important in pursuit of the Good Life because you have to feel comfortable in your surroundings in order to be happy. I was happy in my seat for the play so I found happiness in watching the presentation.

Social Experience:

I attended the play with a close friend and so watching the play felt more like a fun outing with my friend than an assignment for a class. We went and met up at the Reitz Union before we entered so we could sit next to each other. Going with a friend made this an enjoyable experience because I was able to sit with someone I knew and enjoy the play with. We ended up talking to the people around us and made friends with those strangers too; one of the guys we met was in my lecture class so it was fun to talk with them. We went opening night and so the theater was fairly full. Sharing fun moments like these with friends or family is incredibly important to the Good Life. While being comfortable with yourself and enjoying your own company is nice, sharing fun moments with other can be incredibly special. When you have the ability to share something special and meaningful with someone you like to be around, that experience becomes even more special and gets you even closer to the Good Life.

Cultural and Intellectual Experience:

Watching this play opened my eyes to new lifestyles and hardships that many people had to undergo. This play also helped me view an aspect of my religion in a new sense through the depiction of the Catholic Church and the scandals that followed. The time of the play was also an interesting factor. The 20th century time frame and setting showed me new aspects and ideas that I never gave much thought to. The central issue of innocence, pain, and coping was even more highlighted in the setting of the play and the rough backstory on the main characters in the production. I had no knowledge of what the play was explicitly about when I arrived, but I did have knowledge of the poor working conditions of the 20th century, especially children's working conditions. This play, however, brought so much emotion to these topics we mostly just read about but never fully understand. This performance definitely changed my perceptions on the treatment of the poor in society and the gap between the rich and the poor and opened my eyes to truly how difficult it must have been.

Emotional Experience:

This performance definitely engaged the audience through its intense emotional, uncomfortable, and shocking story lines. This play was cathartic in the way it portrayed the rough, radical, and taboo topics that many people seem to either neglect or disregard entirely. It allows the audience to look into their souls and remember that hardships like the ones portrayed do exist and it is wrong to not acknowledge them. Theatre gives the audience the capability to examine the aspects of life that are left unacknowledged or pushed away and allow the audience to examine them through such a cathartic experience. This play showed the horrendous working conditions for the poor, the vile acts of those who take advantage of the vulnerable, and the apathy of those who view themselves as above the rest. All in all, I found that this production was incredibly moving and commend the actors and actresses for giving such a cathartic experience tastefully but with intense impact. It will surely be a play that I remember and will recommend to others.

Stacy Vadakkan gives consent to have her face be used in my Spark Story.

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