Arena Stage The Mead Center for American Theater MY ACCOUNT
Event Calendar

You, Nero

NOV 25, 2011 – JAN 1, 2012

Illustration by Ruth Marten

By resident playwright Amy Freed
Directed by Nicholas Martin

in the Fichandler


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Subversive Comedy

As Rome collapses beneath Emperor Nero's outrageous narcissism, a forgotten playwright tries to restore order through the art of theater in this "gloriously funny" (New York Times) farce. Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Freed's wild romp questions whether well-crafted drama and intellect are any match for decadence and good old-fashioned bloodshed.

rated M for mature


“Amy Freed gives zaniness a good name … a silly-savvy lark … a provocative bowl of goofy … The delightfully snide Danny Scheie purrs, simpers, fumes and camps it up grandly.”

Washington Post

“If you love broad comedy, there's a lot of it in You, Nero.”
“Amy Freed captures all of that weird excess and contradiction in her comedy You, Nero … matched perfectly
by Scheie's giddy characterization.”
“[Danny] Scheie is a delightful comedian … couldn’t be better.”
Nancy Robinette … is matchless throughout …
Jeff McCarthy … deftly creates a real character
in this massive caricature of Rome.”

Washington Examiner

“Scheie is a comic revelation …
a ridiculous evening of effortless laughter.”

Brightest Young Things

“Campy romp … Robinette gives a tour-de-force performance.”


American Voices

Amy Freed

Amy Freed

This year I am working on three projects. One is fully grown, one is in the middle of its development, and one is just starting up.

Going into production at Arena is my play You, Nero – about the Mad Emperor who took over all the arts and made them into reality TV ( in ancient Rome, of course).

The MIDDLE play, for which I have a solid working draft, is about modern design and why it is so cruel to human life. It’s about a Mad Architect who keeps designing demonic buildings. (It’s called Right to the Top.)

And my BABY play is just starting out – I’ll be hearing it out loud for the first time in the upcoming weeks. It is located in a period in American history that launched many experimental and Utopian communities (one called Oneida, in particular, that flourished in late 19th century). THAT one has peace, harmony, beauty, vegetarians, and artisan craftsmanship. The leader is a Mad Preacher who ends up destroying the wonderful dream he created.

As I write this, I cannot avoid a sense that there is a recurring theme. My central preoccupation as a writer is my view that the fateful trouble for humankind lies in the fact that our best and worst traits coexist in such close proximity. The only problem with human beings is human nature.