The Wake of Jamey Foster

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The Wake of Jamey Foster

by Beth Henley


The scene is a small town in Mississippi, where the family of Jamey Foster, a failed poet and would-be historian, who was kicked in the head by a cow while consorting with his mistress in a pasture, have gathered for his wake. The mourners, who include Jamey’s estranged wife; her sister and brother and the brother’s fey girlfriend; Jamey’s upwardly mobile brother and his oppressively doting wife; and an eccentric family friend who raises pigs; all seem to agree on one point: None of them really liked the deceased very much. But on most other matters they are far apart, and as old enmities flare up, the play explodes with bizarre humor and zany revelations. In the end, a tenuous truce is reached as those assembled prepare to depart for the final rites—but it is abundantly clear that the lives on which Jamey had a baleful effect in his lifetime may well be changed for the better by his untimely demise.





Opening & Closing Dates
Type & Version
Oct 14, 1982 – Oct 23, 1982
Play / Original
Eugene O’Neill Theatre, NY, USA


Opening Night Cast


Anthony Heald Wayne FosterJamey’s brother
Holly Hunter Pixrose WilsonLeon’s friend; an orphan
Susan Kingsley Marshael FosterJamey’s widow
Belita MorenoBroadway debut Katty FosterWayne’s wife
Patricia Richardson Collard DarnellMarshael’s sister
Brad Sullivan Brocker SladeMarshael’s friend
Stephen Tobolowsky Leon DarnellMarshael’s brother


Opening Night Production Crew


Produced by FDM Productions, Elliot Martin, Ulu Grosbard, Nan Pearlman and Warner Theatre Productions, Inc. (Claire Nichtern: President); Associate Producer: Arla Sorkin Manson


World premiere at the The Hartford Stage Company


Written by Beth Henley


Directed by Ulu Grosbard


Scenic Design by Santo Loquasto; Costume Design by Jennifer von Mayrhauser; Lighting Design by Jennifer Tipton; Sound Design by David Rapkin


General Manager: James Walsh; Company Manager: Susan Bell


Production Stage Manager: Franklin Keysar; Stage Manager: Wendy Chapin


Casting: McCorkle/Sturtevant; General Press Representative: Jeffrey Richards Associates; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Assistant to the Director: John Gilliss


Critical Reception


“…Suffused with the warmth and offbeat humor that have become the hallmark of its brilliant young author, this richly comic study of a small-town Mississippi family drawn together by supposed grief was produced with great success by the Hartford Stage Company prior to its transfer to Broadway. “…sweetly combines the dottiness of eccentricity with the little ordinariness of life that seems at times immeasurably touching. Miss Henley knows that the underbelly of tragedy is often the comedy of the common place. And she uses this knowledge shrewdly.” —NY Post. “…one of the most gifted American playwrights to emerge in recent seasons…” —NY Times.


External Links


The Wake of Jamey Foster @ Ibdb

The Wake of Jamey Foster Full Review New York Times 10/15/1982


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