Theater Podcast: THE DESIGNATED MOURNER & GRASSES OF A THOUSAND COLORS (Wallace Shawn & André Gregory)

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by Gregory Bernard on May 15, 2021

in Theater-International,Virtual

Premiering June 25 & July 9, 2021, Gideon Media will present The Designated Mourner and Grasses of a Thousand Colors, two unnervingly prescient plays from legendary playwright Wallace Shawn and director André Gregory, as part of their new slate of scripted fiction podcasts, with distribution from public media organization PRX. The podcasts will be available free on-demand to listening audiences.

These productions will reunite the legendary duo behind My Dinner with André and Vanya On 42nd Street to reimagine two of Shawn’s finest plays for the world of podcast drama. The creative team will also include the original casts from the U.S. productions of both plays, including Jennifer Tilly (Bullets Over Broadway), Julie Hagerty (Marriage Story), Deborah Eisenberg (writer, Let Them All Talk), Larry Pine (House of Cards), and Emily Cass McDonnell (Marie and Bruce).

“For many decades my colleague André Gregory and I have tried to create work that is intimate and intense, private and personal, so this amazing medium, the podcast, is the fulfillment of a dream”, said playwright Wallace Shawn. “I love the fact that listeners can participate in what I’ve written by imagining it in their heads, and I love the fact that no one has to pay money or go to a specific place to dwell in these made-up worlds.”

“It was a thrill to work with these legendary artists,” says Gideon Media co-founder Sean Williams. “But at the same time it was shocking how freshly relevant the material turned out to be. Hearing these seasoned actors recreate these productions, while outside a pandemic raged and an insurrection was launched against our democratic process was incredible and unnerving. Wally has been developing these shows for years, but they seem as if they were written for us, now.”

Playwright Wallace Shawn

The Designated Mourner
All Episodes Released June 25, 2021

Written by Wallace Shawn, Directed by André Gregory

Something’s happening in the country where Jack lives. There’s violence in the streets. Leaders are being replaced. Public life is transforming. The government is cracking down on anyone suspected of subversion. But Jack – consumed with his atrophying marriage to Judy, his corrosive envy of his famous poet-intellectual father-in-law Howard, and his disintegrating sense of self – barely notices. As the once-liberal society around him descends into authoritarianism, Jack plunges into his own parallel decline, a chilling abdication of everything he once valued. The Designated Mourner is a searing and unnervingly prescient drama that The New Yorker’s John Lahr called “among our generation’s few great plays, one of the most memorable evenings of theatregoing in my life.” This six-part podcast adaption reunites the entire creative team behind the original New York production, including director André Gregory, whose collaborations with Shawn have been celebrated for decades, and the original cast, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, and Deborah Eisenberg.

Grasses of a Thousand Colors
All Episodes Released July 9, 2021
Written by Wallace Shawn, Directed by André Gregory 

In Wallace Shawn’s most disturbing and dreamlike drama, a doctor invents a groundbreaking nutrient intended to end world hunger. Instead it radically transforms the food chain, chemically disrupting animal and human bodies, leading to a global illness and outbreaks of disturbing behavior. Isolated from the worst of it by his wealth, the doctor loses himself in a series of tumultuous relationships with his wife Cerise, his mistress Robin, and his girlfriend Rose. A cat called Blanche, who leads him into an enchanted world of bizarre eroticism, also figures crucially in the drama.

Grasses of a Thousand Colors is a challenging, dream-logic exploration of the intersection between human beings and nature, with a sense of encroaching apocalypse that will feel all-to-familiar to listeners after the last few years. Of the stage production The New Yorker raved that Shawn’s “visionary satire of decadence powerfully dramatizes our country at a spiritual tipping point.”

Once again reuniting Shawn with his celebrated collaborator André Gregory, Grasses also features the original US cast of the play, including Shawn himself, Jennifer Tilly, Julie Hagerty, and Emily Cass McDonnell.

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