Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Imagining the Theatre of Marcellus

This is a view from the Portico d'Ottavia and on the right is the Theatre of Marcellus, just opposite the Temple of Apollo.  It's one of the places in Rome I like to hang out. Not so many tourists walk through here and if they do I can feel vaguely irritated. I think it's because I sense they're not really looking. They appear to be ticking boxes of places they've been. This spot is always in transition and so the barriers have to be suffered. I like to stroll up and down imagining people streaming into the old theatre, which originally had three tiers. It was finished in 13 BC and could hold up to 20,000 spectators, although estimates vary. Things are always changing in the city. It continued to be used as a theatre until about 1000 AD after which it became a fortress, then a residence. There are apartments in the upper portion, and so it continues to be a living building. There lots to see here, if you're prepared to really look and more importantly, imagine an ancient society in which theatre had such central importance. There is such squabbling over arts funding in current times, but the Romans knew that music and drama was crucial to political popularity and maintaining the status quo. If you're in Rome, you might just catch me here. I'm the one covertly poking behind the barrier to get a better shot!