“The Dylans are going to see a play tonight and have an extra ticket. I don’t really feel like going so it’s yours if you want it. You have 5 minutes to decide because you’d have to meet them at the Piazza del Popolo in 20.”
I had barely registered my roommate’s presence as I walked through the door when she started talking to me. My mind was numb from a day spent studying and taking exams. I was tired, worn-out, and ready to sleep for days, but I surprised myself when I answered with no hesitation, “yah I’ll go.”
Without thinking twice, I switched out of my midterm groufit (this was the week I broke my streak of never wearing a t-shirt in public to try to blend in with the high fashion Italians), grabbed a snack, and headed out. Although I’m typically one to overthink plans and weigh all the pros and cons and costs for any excursion, this night I didn’t have time to do any of that. Seeing a play seemed like the perfect way to give a happy ending to a draining day, so I said yes. I’m glad that while rushing out I managed to grab a jacket as I remembered one of my friends mentioning that the show was happening in an outdoor theater. As the Roman autumn air hit my face, I began to wake up from my study-day daze and felt excited.
I met up with my friends Dylan B. and Dylan W. (hence the “Dylans” earlier) outside of the entrance to the Villa Borghese, a huge garden in the eastern side of Rome where the theater was located. We walked through the gardens until we reached the Silvano Toti Globe Theater Roma. A small gravel path led to the large, open-air, circular theater.
Being a Globe Theater, most of the shows performed in this space are Shakespearean, or at the very least related to Shakespeare. This night’s show was no different as we were seeing the Merchant of Venice. Upon arriving, I was relieved to find out it was being performed “in lingua originale” or in the original language. Although I love Shakespeare, I have enough trouble fully understanding his work in English, so I’m not sure if I would have been able to follow a two and a half hour show in Italian.
As soon as the show began, I knew I was in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Colorful lights flashed on stage as what I can only describe as “Shakespearean 80’s synth” music began to play. Clearly, this would be unlike any other Merchant of Venice performance. The grandiose nature of the music and lighting was balanced perfectly by the simplicity of set design and prop usage. The costumes used in the show were absolutely stunning and even at times comical, with everything from a beautiful violet evening gown to black style security suits being worn. There were plenty of modern, humorous lines added that kept the audience laughing for most of the show. Still, despite the overall jovial tone, the incredible actors brought tears to my eyes during the tragic court scene.
My night at the theater by far has been one of my favorite experiences since arriving in Rome. It reminded me that sometimes it really is just as simple as saying yes and going. Although I know I can’t afford to say yes to every experience, I’m focusing less on the costs and cons and more on the pros from here on out.