MERIDA, Spain – Nero, a play that uses stark visuals to tell the story of power and art, politics, ambition and madness, was set to open to the public on Wednesday at the ongoing Merida Classic Theatre International festival at the Roman Theatre in Merida in southeastern Spain.
At a dress rehearsal on Tuesday evening, Spanish actors Raul Arevalo and Itziar Miranda brought to life the characters of the play, directed by Eduardo Galan.
Nero – the emperor who allegedly burnt down Rome to rebuild it – is one of the most contradictory and complex characters in history.
He was a lover of art and culture, as well as a despot and a tyrant who murdered some of his closest relatives, including his mother, half-brother and first wife.
According to the director, he re-imagined the historical drama through a modern structure, including flashbacks and simultaneous scenes with various spaces ranging from the palace or the Roman theatre of Naples to the catacombs.
He hoped the play would remind the audience of the famous film starring Robert Taylor, Peter Ustinov and Deborah Kerr.
“A whole host of historical and fictional characters pass through the play, for example Petronius, Marcus Vinicius, Agrippina, Saint Paul, Lygia, Poppaea, Tigellinus or Sporus,” he said in a note on the festival’s website.
The play would be performed for 5 days, between July 11-15 and is one of the highlights of the festival, which is in its 64th edition this year.
The Merida International Classical Theatre Festival is the oldest classical theatre festival held in Spain and performances are held annually during the months of July and August at the Roman Theatre of Merida, the oldest working theatre in the world.