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Shawn, Wallace

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1943-    ) US actor and playwright, very active in the former capacity; some of his roles – including a part of Strange Invaders (1983), the comic villain Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987) and Grand Negus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – are of genre interest. As a playwright, the transgressive and Absurdist works of his earlier career, which began with The Hotel Play (1970), gradually gained narrative clarity and political focus, though without losing a transgressive edge, in plays like The Fever (1991), filmed as The Fever (2004), set at the cusp of the Near Future and depicting its protagonist's prolonged but epiphanic coming-to-awareness of the nature of the world we now face. Two later plays are also of interest: The Designated Mourner (1996), filmed as The Designated Mourner (1997), abstractly explores the moral contamination incurred by merely managing to survive a terrorizing fascist Near Future dictatorship in a tortured South American country; Grasses of a Thousand Colours (2009), presents the memoirs of a kind of Mad Scientist who has solved the global food crisis through Inventions in the field of "genetically engineered" crops, tied in to a morally contaminated use of the planetary biomass – including animals – to sustain Homo sapiens: the play segues into fairytale, but never loses Shawn's savage intensity of focus on what might be called species morality. In this regard, he finds us profoundly lacking. [JC]

Wallace Shawn

born New York: 12 November 1943

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