For the past ten years the amateur theater group in the little town of S. Agata dei Goti, has been directed by my next door neighbor, the retired comedy actress Hilde Maria Renzi, who worked for many years with neapolitan author and actors Eduardo and Peppino de Filippo.
The plays are held inside the courtyard of the town’s 17th century episcopio, or bishopric, and are always filled to the brim with men, women, children, and local dignitaries. Now in its 11th season, this event is so well-loved that the show is prolonged for four days which allows the whole town to see it. Tickets are free.
This year’s offering, Fortuna Con la “F” Maiuscola (Fortune With a Capital “F”) was due to début on June 22nd.
But who could have forseen that Italy would still be playing in the quarter finals of the European Championship on June 22nd?! By 8 p.m. people were arriving at the local bars, armed with chairs and flags, anxiously tooting their whistles, seating themselves in front of improvised screens made of big white sheets. As I walked towards the theatre, I doubted if anyone would forgo this excitement in order to see an old Eduardo de Filippo play…
At 9 o’clock there were 10 old women seated in the audience, wading in a sea of empty green chairs. But slowly, in dribs and drabs, more people arrived. By 9:30 the episcopio was reasonably full. Full of women who had decided to come to the theater, leaving their husbands and sons to watch soccer.
As the lights went down an old woman looked around and chuckled to her friends: “It looks like we’re all widows for one night!”