The Designated Mourner
Written by Wallace Shawn / Directed by Andre Gregory
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
*Warning: this program contains uncensored material.
At times during the course of human history, when the last of a group, clan or tribe passes, someone would be appointed to publicly weep, remember, and light the sacred fire for the passing of that group. This custom of "The Designated Mourner", for which the play is named, is one that resonates in these days after September 11th, as many people are shouldering this burden, in New York and elsewhere. Wallace Shawn's 1996 play is just loaded with disturbing ideas. Another especially relevant one - in the wake of the September 11th attacks - is how people think about their enemies.
When "The Designated Mourner" was staged in New York two years ago, the tiny house in lower Manhattan was packed night after night for the play's limited run. The play is meant to be delivered in an intimate setting.
The action of "The Designated Mourner" is revealed through the stories told by three people: Jack, the infuriatingly charming dabbler in English Literature and "vague-hanger-on" of Howard, a poet and dissident; and Judy, Howard's daughter whom Jack has married. Jack renounces their world of ideas for more socially acceptable "lowbrow" values while Howard and his kind are cruelly eliminated. Jack is left to remember and mourn the lost world that he both hated and envied.
Wallace Shawn (Jack)
Deborah Eisenberg (Judy)
Larry Pine (Howard)
Directed by Andre Gregory
With music and sound effects by: sound designer Bruce Odland
The Next Big Thing's radio production of "The Designated Mourner" was produced by Curtis Fox.