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 playwrightWallace 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.”
The Designated Mourner – All Episodes Released June 25 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 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.
Wallace Shawn (Playwright) started writing plays in 1967. His plays have been performed at the Public Theater and The New Group in New York and in London at the National Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre. They include Our Late Night, A Thought in Three Parts, Marie and Bruce, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Fever, The Designated Mourner, Grasses of a Thousand Colors, and Evening at the Talk House. The plays are published in the US by TCG Books and Grove Press and in the UK by Faber and Nick Hern Books. Shawn’s translation and adaptation of Ibsen’s A Master Builder is available from TCG Books. His translation of Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera will be published when the underlying work enters the public domain. His translation of the libretto by C.F. Ramuz for Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale is legal in the United States. His latest book is a long essay, Night Thoughts. His earlier essays are collected in Essays. Both books are published by Haymarket Books. Allen Shawn’s opera The Music Teacher, with a libretto by Wallace Shawn, is available from Bridge Records. Shawn became a professional actor in 1977 when he appeared on stage at the Public Theater in New York in his own translation of Machiavelli’s The Mandrake, directed by Wilford Leach. His film work includes appearances in Manhattan, Radio Days, Clueless, The Princess Bride, Toy Story 1, 2, 3, and 4, The Moderns, and Rifkin’s Festival. His three films with André Gregory, available in a boxed set from Criterion, are My Dinner with Andre and Vanya on 42nd Street, both directed by Louis Malle, and A Master Builder, directed by Jonathan Demme. He has been a recurring character on many television shows, including “Taxi”, “The Cosby Show”, “Murphy Brown”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Gossip Girl”, “She’s Gotta Have It”, “The Good Wife”, “Mozart in the Jungle”, and “Young Sheldon”, where he can currently be seen as Dr. John Sturgis.
André Gregory (Director) has been one of the most important forces in the American theatre for nearly forty years. Gregory was one of the original creators of the regional theatre movement, the off-Broadway movement in New York, and with his partner Wallace Shawn, the American independent film movement. His production of The Blacks ran for years in New York and featured now legendary performers James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Lou Gossett and Maya Angelou. His forty-year collaboration with Wallace Shawn began with his critically acclaimed production of Shawn’s Our Late Night, at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater. Shawn and Gregory went on to create My Dinner With André, directed by Louis Malle. The partnership of Shawn, Malle and Gregory later created Vanya on 42nd Street. In 2000, Gregory directed Shawn’s play, The Designated Mourner, in an abandoned men’s club in Lower Manhattan. In 2009 he directed Grasses of a Thousand Colors, also by Shawn, at the Royal Court Theatre in London. In the summer of 2013, Gregory directed two Shawn plays at the Public Theater – Grasses of a Thousand Colors and The Designated Mourner. Criterion has released a boxed set that includes My Dinner With André, Vanya on 42nd Street and A Master Builder. As an actor, Gregory has performed in a dozen films, including The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese, Mosquito Coast by Peter Weir and Celebrity by Woody Allen. Gregory starred in the HBO series “The Young Pope” directed by Paolo Sorrentino in 2017. THIS IS NOT MY MEMOIR is Gregory’s latest project, written in collaboration with Todd London. It is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Gideon Media proudly brings the award-winning theatre tradition of Gideon Productions to audio, crafting gripping productions that explore human grace and darkness through the kaleidoscope of popular genre forms. Gideon Media draws on its founders’ two-decade record of acclaimed onstage storytelling to meticulously craft new audio series that use thrilling entertainment as a delivery system for challenging stories that take on religion, sexuality, politics, culture, and the often strange bonds that tie people together in a rapidly changing world. Gideon Media’s debut production, Steal The Stars, was downloaded over two million times and was an Audie Awards Finalist for Best Audio Drama. Gideon Media is represented by CAA, Circle Of Confusion, and Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, & Shepherd. www.gideon-media.com
PRX is a public media organization shaping the future of audio by producing and distributing content, building technology, and training talented, independent producers. With an award-winning portfolio ranging from iconic public media programs such as “The Moth Radio Hour,” “TED Talks Daily,” “This American Life”, “Snap Judgment,” “Latino USA,” “The World,” and “Reveal,” PRX also powers a growing body of podcast-first productions, including the Radiotopia podcast network and the TRAX podcast network for tweens. www.prx.org