On Poetry and Culture Shock

Theatres on both sides of the Atlantic

In the US, anything older than one century is very old. And Ithaca has one theatre from the 19th century, which in American terms is a venerable piece of antiquity like the Roman amphitheatre of Itálica, northwest of my town, a mere 1900 years old. Ithaca’s State Theatre was a derelict building until relatively recently and it is being restored with help from all quarters: there are private donations, and corporate sponsors (I have been asked to give applause to a bank: not in a million years), and Cornell university and maybe even public help **hears screams of “what are they doing with our taxes?”**.

The theatre must have been a complete mess to start with and the people who had the idea in the first place must have been crazy. Mental. Completely out of their minds. The current plumbing system is still from the 1920’s and I’m scared even to think about the electrical system. But someone thought one day that what little history Ithaca has, should be preserved. Good luck to them.

Let’s move six time zones away. We are in Seville, a city that has turned navel-gazing into a passion. Something like the New York City of the 16th century, although sadly for some, we do not live in the 16th century any more. Seville’s old, traditional theatre is the Lope de Vega, after the playwright. The seats are the most uncomfortable on the planet, and the paint outside the building is peeling. No, this one was not built in the 16th century! It’s from 1929. It is not derelict, and it’s not going to be anytime soon, but the outside does look as if it was.

One of the local commonplaces is that Spain in general and Seville in particular badly neglect the care and conservation of the local art and heritage. I hate seeing stereotypes confirmed.

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