Amid the horror headlines and continuing crises, the voice of the artist can be hard to hear. Yet writer, actor and performer Wallace Shawn believes that learning to listen is essential–which is why he’s been spending time lately reworking his acclaimed plays The Designated Mourner and Grasses of a Thousand Colors as podcasts.

Are stories, novels and plays always just a means of escape from life? If not, what else are they—and what else can they be? What role does art play in our collective life? How can those of us not deaf or blind to the debilitating and depressing crises of our times create space for art? Must art be useful—or foment social change—in order to be worthwhile? Join the inimitable Shawn and Nation editor D.D. Guttenplan as they tackle these issues—and attempt to answer your questions.

Tickets are $10. All proceeds directly support The Nation’s journalism. We hope you will join us! There will be ample time devoted to audience questions and conversation. All ticket-holders will also be sent a link to the recording the following day. If you have any questions, please email us at events@thenation.com.