Study abroad series: A day in Pompeii


Sophomore arts administration major Gabi Randall has taken many art classes in her time at Butler University.

Until now, however, she had yet to take an art class in Italy–which would include a field trip to Pompeii.

Gabi Randall in Pompeii

Photo by Katie Goodrich

She took an introductory theatre class last year, which showed her all the different ways theater can be used as a career.

While Randall does not want to pursue that path, she said her current class is more relatable.

“Theatre is really commercialized in America,” Randall said. “I feel like, here, they do it for more personal reasons.”

As a part of the Global Adventures in the Liberal Arts trip, the theatre class combines acting, attending Italian productions and visiting ancient theaters.

The day trip to Pompeii, which is about 150 miles south of Rome, included visits to two theaters and an amphitheater, all of various sizes.

Randall said these made a bigger impact on her than the Colosseum because they were bigger relative to the population of the city.

The amphitheater in Pompeii can hold almost the entire city, while the Colosseum holds a much smaller percentage of the Roman population.

“The Colosseum was built to distract people for political reasons,” she said. “In Pompeii, (the theaters) were built because people appreciated the arts. One was just for music and poetry. The intentions were just so much more pure.”


Photo by Katie Goodrich

The Colosseum in Rome was built on the plans from the amphitheater that stood in Pompeii, which is the oldest known stone amphitheater.

It was completed in 80 B.C., making it more than 100 years older than the Colosseum.

In Pompeii, Randall could also go onstage and stand where the ancient actors performed.

The actors could stand in the center of the stage without any amplification and be heard by the entire audience. The structure’s elliptical shape allowed sound to travel farther and louder.

“The acoustics show how incredibly intelligent they were,” Randall said. “The whole city felt so contemporary. Even though it was destroyed in 79 A.D., these people weren’t so different from us, despite the 2,000-year difference.”