Despite being an English teacher, Blake Mellencamp confesses he is a “pretty big history nerd as well.”
That gave the Zionsville Middle School seventh-grade teacher an idea for a play.
“I went down a rabbit hole of exploring what daily life for everyday people in the Roman Empire was like and learned how truly similar some aspects of their culture are to ours today,” Meilencamp said. “For instance, the opening scene of the play takes place in a Thermopolium, which is essentially an ancient Roman fast-food restaurant. The genesis of ‘Pompeii & Circumstance’ really came from seeing that most of the media concerning this time period deals with great leaders and wars, and instead I wanted to try to center the lives of common people in this era.”’
Clerical Error Productions presents Mellencamp’s satirical play, “Pompeii & Circumstance,” in the IndyFringe Festival at The District Theatre’s main stage at 627 Mass Ave, Indianapolis. Mellencamp portrays the emperor in the play.
“The more thought-provoking elements of the play come from those parallels between life in the Roman Empire and life in America today,” Mellencamp said. “Whether it’s eating at fast-food restaurants, watching sporting events, checking out a stand-up routine, a lot of things feel like they have direct comparisons to parts of life in the Roman Empire. As the first satirist, Juvenal, who makes an appearance in the play, says, ‘People are placated by bread and circuses.’”
This is the first play Mellencamp has produced on stage; however, he did compose the music for one of Clerical Error’s previous productions, “Father Ned in Space: The Musical.”
Before joining Clerical Error Productions, he hadn’t done any acting since high school.
“I was involved in the theater program at my school but hadn’t done any throughout college (Ball State University),” said Mellencamp, who grew up in Berne, a small town south of Fort Wayne.
Mellencamp has played Father Dermott McDermott in several “Father Ned” plays through the years. The Indianapolis resident has taught seventh-grade English at Zionsville Middle School for the past eight years.
The show performances at noon Aug. 19; 7 p.m. Aug. 20; 7:15 p.m. Aug. 24; 8:45 p.m. Aug. 26; 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1; and 1:45 p.m. Sept. 2.
For more, visit indyfringe.org/festival/.