The Black Mass: Disillusionment by Thomas Mann

Tune in to The Black Mass today at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic Time (19:00 and 03:00 GMT), for the lat­est in our con­tin­u­ing series of chill­ing land­mark radio dra­mas by some of lit­er­a­ture’s most famous authors.

The Black Mass was pro­duced by Erik Bauers­feld and John Whit­ing at KPFA in Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia between 1963 and 1970, and is pre­sent­ed by kind per­mis­sion of Erik Bauers­feld and Bay Area Radio Dra­ma.

Today we present

by Thomas Mann

Man 1: Bernard Mayes
Man 2: Erik Bauers­feld
Adapt­ed and Pro­duced by: Erik Bauers­feld

Two strangers sit at Flo­ri­an’s Café on the Piaz­za de San Mar­co in Venice, Italy, in Thomas Man­n’s brief tale about a search in life for some­thing that isn’t a dis­ap­point­ment. It also reveals the ori­gin of Miss Peg­gy Lee’s pop­u­lar song: Is That all There Is. Most of the lyrics are tak­en, word for word, from Man­n’s sto­ry.

Erik Bauers­feld tells an inter­est­ing sto­ry about the record­ing of this tale.

I’d nev­er been to Venice at that time, but we assem­bled what seemed like a suit­able sound­scape for the loca­tion: the Piaz­za di San Mar­co, where the con­ver­sa­tion takes place. The day before broad­cast I con­sult­ed my Blue Guide. Mann had men­tioned pigeons and a few peo­ple walk­ing about… a girl strew­ing corn for a host of pigeons. Like many Piaz­zas there is oth­er activ­i­ty for get­ting about that we includ­ed, like bus­es and trol­leys. But I caught men­tion in one guide book that there are no bus­es and trol­leys in Venice — at least not in their grand Piaz­za. It took many hours of edit­ing to get them out of our pro­duc­tion — well into the the day of broad­cast, up near­ly to the broad­cast itself.

I think we elim­i­nat­ed them all, under and over the dia­logue. If you hear any trol­leys, how­ev­er dis­tant, let us know.”

Next week at the same time: The Feed­er by Carl Lin­der.

Read more about The Black Mass on the Bay Area Radio Dra­ma web site.
Our logo for the series was designed spe­cial­ly by Ter­ry Light­foot of To A T Designs.

You can lis­ten to Radio Riel’s Main Stream now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

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