The Designated Mourner

Written by Wallace Shawn / Directed by Andre Gregory

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

*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.

Brief Synopsis:
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.

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Comments [2]

Brian DeShazor from Pacifica Radio Archives

Wow. This is great radio. Leave it to the brilliant Wallace Shawn to understand what radio can do. Classic!

Jan. 13 2012 12:26 PM
Dave from Brooklyn

I caught the original airing, which I recall was fairly late at night, and spent the whole 3 hours with it. At the time, it was quite important to me, for reasons well beyond the scope of a user comment.

Is there anywhere to get a downloadable mp3 of these files? The audio stream is quite choppy, probably an issue on my end. I've scoured the net for this version, I can't find it elsewhere, although the movie seems available. Thanks

Nov. 19 2011 01:43 AM

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