“The beauty of the past must be lived and enjoyed in the present”, this is the message of Marco Scuotto and his association Extramoenia that organizes theatrical events in the remains of ancient monuments, theatre in ancient ruins.
The idea came to Agostino De Angelis, a pupil of the best Italian theatre, that of De Vita and Eduardo De Filippo, who first felt the need to recapture the emotions emanating in historical places and to organize special events there, theatre in ancient ruins.
For fans of opera it is normal to imagine creating a show at the Baths of Caracalla, the lake of Massaciuccoli and the Abbey of Casamari (I avoid the including Arena di Verona or the planisfero of Macerata which are almost theatres). For fans of the many tragedies or comedies ancient Greek and Roman theatres are an inevitable appointment in summer. But what about all the other thousands of special places all over Italy?
The great Giorgio Albertazzi plays parts of Memoirs of Hadrian – one of the ten books that I would take with me if I were on a desert island – in Villa Adriana in Tivoli walking among the ruins of the house of Hadrian. While in the other places there will be Agostino de Angelis, Marco Scuotto and the other companies that have been born following their example.
Listen to Marco Scuotto telling his story gives really positive emotions. Marco is young but as a child he already had decided to work in show business. His family from Syracuse was not sure whether to take their son seriously or not but they never tried to cut his wings.
One day in the city the master de Angelis came for a performance in the diocese and his dad asked Agostino if he had time to meet his son Marco. The spark lit at first sight and Marco began to learn the basics of theatre and in particular of theatre among historic ruins.
In fact, these performances are different from others and are a conjunction of technical knowledge and artistic skill. By their nature, squares, ancient temples, historic ruins, courtyards and stairways are not suitable for traditional performances: they lack depth, acoustic effects and stage lighting.
When they plan an event they have to configure its illumination, to be effective but not excessive in visual impact, all the way through. And also, in a show like these, the audience is often standing and moves following the actor who has no microphone but acts using his diaphragm as the ancient Greeks. The viewer is given the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and feel the emotion of the place appropriating different views and different situations and linking them to particular words.
Virtually wherever they organize a play, an association or a theatre company will be born just afterwards and will continue to organize events on the same site or in the surrounding area. In this way, in these recent years dozens of theatre and dance companies have been born without grants or public subsidies.
The public? All shows are sold out. The number of spectators depends on the permissions of the director in charge of that particular monument, 200, 500, 1000 .. And the interesting thing is the presence of foreign tourists who do not speak Italian.
“They live the emotions of the theatre through the energy of the place and the other spectators. Just the fact of enjoying a monument at night with special lighting, with a pleasant voice that vibrates in the air and walking with others offers unforgettable emotions”.
They receive letters of thanks from all over the world and this pushes them more and more to continue in their work that now includes all of Italy. Marco surprises me when I ask him what dreams he would still like to accomplish, his words have a wisdom that I do not expect from a young man who looks forward to a long journey ahead of him.
“After all, the real dream is that I can always continue to do what I am doing and to pass on what I learn. There are many opportunities that are opening and that may create new businesses in the cultural field, to attract new tourists and make our society more sustainable. I am happy”.