According to Richard Mazda, the founder of the theater, 25 percent of every ticket sale will go to a disaster fund to help those affected by the earthquake. The theater will also be collecting money before and after the show and working with local businesses like Manducatis Rustica to raise money.
“We just found it poignant because the play is set in Italy anyway and we are particularly conscious that the production is set in 1945 when Italy is kind of in ruins on the last day when Hitler dies, so there’s a certain World War aspect,” Mazda said. “It was a time in Italy where it was important that reconstruction started so we thought it would be a good fit for the production.”
More than 250 people died in the earthquake that struck on the morning of Aug. 24 in the town of Amatrice, about 60 miles northeast of Rome. The tremor, which registered 6.2 on the Richter scale, occurred while most people were sleeping and leveled most buildings in Amatrice and nearby villages.
“The Merchant of Venice,” a play by William Shakespeare, is set in northern Italy and follows Bassanio, a Venetian merchant who tries to woo Portia, a wealthy heiress from Belmont, Italy.
In this adaption, which takes place in April 1945, Adolf Hitler kills himself and his actions have consequences. Italian citizens and American occupying forces celebrate his death but Italy is filled with racist propaganda from Axis and Allied forces trying to promote their competing views.
Shylock, a Jewish man who lends money to Bassanio’s friend Antonio so they can travel to Manhattan to woo Portia, must grapple with a Europe that has imprisoned and murdered his people. Antonio falls in love with Bassanio, who in this adaption is an American soldier.
Italian restaurants in the area will create a special pasta dish with pasta made in Amatrice, Mazda said, and an after party on opening night and closing night will also raise money for and awareness of the cause. The restaurants participating in the fundraising are still being confirmed.
“I think the unique geography in Italy means that those cities, those towns will never be rebuilt in the same way,” Mazda said.
The play will run from Sept. 1 through Sept. 18 and will be directed by Alberto Bonilla. Advanced tickets will cost $18, while tickets at the door will cost $20.
To purchase tickets, visit The Secret Theatre website.