My experience of The Divine: A Play For Sarah Berndhart

The Spatial Experience

The Constans Theater has a very modern entrance way. The lobby was thin and wide with modern art scattered about. Waiting in the lobby reminded me of waiting in a train station. It was surprisingly quiet, and as time went on the anticipation grew. There was no view of what the auditorium looked like from the lobby. This added emphasis to the importance of the actual theater, much like the train station made me anticipate my journey.

The theater itself was very dark. Sitting in the center of the auditorium framed the stage perfectly. Seeing the pink and blue lights of the stained glass windows on the stage and the snow falling behind them immediately made me think of church and religion. The stage seemed so important in the darkness of the room. It was lit up in vibrantly bright colors whilst everyone else was a dim silhouette in front of me.

The whole experience reminded me that setting is a wonderful way to tie emotions and experiences together. Elements of previous memories include scenery and smell as well as emotion. The settings on stage reminded me of times in my life associated with those images. the church windows reminded me of travelling, which helped me empathize with Talbot. Scenery plays a huge role in the good life since it has the capacity to remind people of where they have come from and where they want to go. The message of freedom delivered at the end of the play, where Talbot speaks of his journey to the opium den, is transmitted through scenery as much as it is through word. The dark room and the great white light behind him reminded me of death and how we only get one life to make "good." That part of the message was not delivered in words.

the Social Experience

This is what the entrance to the Constans Theater looks like when your friends make you arrive at nearly the last possible second.

I attended the play with a long time friend of mine. Sharing this experience with him meant that I did not have total control over when I would be able to arrive. Since so many other students were attending, parking was almost impossible to find. This was stressful, however it made the experience seem more important in a way. Sitting next to my friend made me feel less impolite about laughing or gasping loudly when the actions on stage demanded it.

Being in a room full of strangers normally makes one feel detached. However, after the lights dimmed, the featureless companions in front of me became part of the experience. We were one collective entity the actors were addressing. Sharing experiences like this is part of what makes a good life good. We are social creatures who crave connections and a sense of belonging. this is why we share. By putting everyone in that small dark space, the play can share the message more intimately.

The Cultural/Intellectual experience

Prior to attending the performance, I had a basic knowledge of labor struggles in the past. I knew what the Knights of Labor were when their name was mentioned in the play, and that really broadened my view of the universe the characters were living in. The play does a fantastic job of portraying the ambiguous nature of morality, which i believe to be the main issue addressed in the play. There are two sides that are in conflict. The Industry of the time is treating their workers with beyond inhumane conditions, and the Catholic church is committing heinous crimes against children. When Mrs. Bernhardt comes to town, these issues are put under the spotlight. This spotlight reveals how responsibility from crimes can fall in many places. Also the most just thing to do may not be the "right" thing to do. Seeing Talbot tear up the confession of his attacked really hit me hard. It seemed so wrong, but it was the best way for him to live a better life with his family.

Issues of justice and fairness still exist today. The play helped me realize how certain moral issues can go unexposed for decades. It just is not easy for people to bring others to justice, because justice is not black and white. The play has reaffirmed my belief that all issues in life deserve fair and thorough debate. What was done to Talbot and his brother was wrong. What should be done to make amends to their family, and who should take the blame, are up for debate. Many issues of politics today that affect my life are very similar to these issues. I hope that we can live in a society where calm debate is promoted to prevent the silence that Talbot and the others had to live in for so long.

The Emotional Experience

The Divine put a mirror up for the audience to look into. Even though the period of the play was from fairly long ago, the themes involved were very relevant. Social change is messy. Things happen in society that we do not always like to look at. Through the theater the audience is given an opportunity to judge the world on stage in anonymity. the darkness of the theater make sit similar to a confessional. On the opposite side of the stage, playwrights have the opportunity to write about injustices without affecting anyone in particular. They can have an unfiltered voice to speak out. In this way, the theater is much like a catharsis.

The actors themselves discussed, after the play, how the playwright did an excellent job talking about how theater affects the audience and thus society. One particularly interesting topic of conversation was how any piece of art has a story behind it. Music, theater, and dance all have a person behind them with emotions to convey. The ways people can put their strife, or their joy, into a piece of art are healing. Self expression is key to the good life in my opinion. Self expression is a form of catharsis and can often highlight aspects of society that everyone experiences.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.