From 2004 to 2008, NERO FIDDLED presented four musical political satires, written, produced, and directed by Noah Diamond and Amanda Sisk.
Political theatre is not a very specific description. Some political theatre is allegorical. Some is metaphorical. And there are even some kinds of political theatre which do not rhyme with those. The Nero Fiddled shows are specifically about contemporary policy, politics, and politicians. The shows are serious, because there is nothing more serious than their subject matter. They're funny, because the most effective humor always deals with the darkest themes.
For Mel Brooks hath said: "The greatest comedy plays against the greatest
tragedy. Comedy is a red rubber ball, and if you throw it against a soft, funny wall, it will not come back. But if you throw it against the hard wall of ultimate reality, it will bounce back and be very lively."
Like many political artists, we are sometimes accused of "preaching to the choir." We like the standard response to this criticism -- "That's how you make them sing" -- and wish we had thought of it ourselves. We have no illusion that a musical comedy can impact the electoral map.
We want to inspire our audience, through laughter and outrage, to become more politically informed and involved. Identifying oneself as a liberal is not enough; we want people who already agree with us to take the next step: an active role. We try to deliver our ideas with as much fidelity to the art and craft of comedy and song as to the function and welfare of society and government. It isn't art for art's sake. It's comedy for democracy.
It's now been several years since the last Nero Fiddled production, but I do think there will be more in the future. There are many reasons for the extended hiatus. Some are simply practical; it's impossible for shows with this level of topicality to have normal developmental processes, which makes them very difficult to produce and finance. And then -- I hate to use that awful word career, but I used to worry that if all of my work had this ripped-from-the-headlines quality, I'd never create anything lasting. That's probably the biggest reason for the shift in focus away from Nero Fiddled in recent years. The wheel of American politics keeps turning, and I was afraid that if I tried relentlessly to keep up with it, I'd wake up one day and wish I had made more time for other kinds of projects.