You've seen him in "The Princess Bride" and "Clueless" and watched him argue with Andre Gregory in "My Dinner With Andre," but Wallace Shawn is nearly as prolific a playwright as he is an actor. His oft-staged Marie And Bruce, as well as A Thought In Three Parts, Aunt Dan and Lemon and translation of Machiavelli's The Mandrake all played at NY's Public Theatre, and his The Hotel Play was staged at La MaMa in 1981.
Now Shawn's latest, The Designated Mourner, is gearing up for a downtown New York City mounting, presented at 21 South William Street, in a former men's club. Each performance of the run, May 1-July 15, accommodates only 30 people. As such, the entire run is already sold out, according to a spokesperson at Smarttix. Shawn, Larry Pine and Deborah Eisenberg will star. Andre Gregory directs.
The piece was produced in 1996 at England's Royal National Theatre as a tour de force return to acting for Mike Nichols. Mourner had its American premiere in 1997 at Chicago's Steppenwolf Studio Theatre. David Hare directed the 1997 film version, starring Nichols and Miranda Richardson.
The Designated Mourner, about a future where all the ideals of art and culture are destroyed, is staged Brian Friel-style, as a series of monologues. The piece is set in a fictional future in which intellectuals are rounded up and executed. Those include Jack, his wife Judy, and father-in-law Howard.
According to the Barlow-Hartman press office, designing Mourner are Eugene Lee (set), Donna Granata (costumes) and Jennifer Tipton (lighting). For information on The Designated Mourner call (212) 532-8887.
--By David Lefkowitz