What did you think you'd be doing this week, this month, or the rest of 2020? Our collective plans have radically shifted, and Selected Shorts is embracing the new abnormal with our first-ever digital performance, presenting short fiction about lofty ambitions and rearranged priorities. Host Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock) and actors Bobby Cannavale (Mr. Robot), Emily Skeggs (When We Rise), and Allison Williams (Girls) give voice to befuddled talking horses, unusual reform school headmasters, and more!
Virtual Selected Shorts will premiere on May 13 @ 7:30PM on the Symphony Space YouTube channel
Riding Solo by Simon Rich
Performed by Maulik Pancholy
Miss Laura’s School for Esquire Men by Carmen Maria Machado
Performed by Emily Skeggs
The Meeting by Aimee Bender
Performed by Allison Williams
Magnificent Desolation by Jess Walter
Performed by Bobby Cannavale
To learn more about the artists
THE ARTISTS (in alphabetical order)
Aimee Bender is the author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, An Invisible Sign of My Own, Willful Creatures, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, winner of the SCIBA award for best fiction and an Alex Award, and The Color Master. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, and The Paris Review, among other publications. Bender’s work has been honored with two Pushcart Prizes. Her third novel, The Butterfly Lampshade, is forthcoming.
Bobby Cannavale is a two-time Emmy Award winner for his work on Will & Grace and Boardwalk Empire. Additional film and television credits include The Station Agent; Nurse Jackie, for which he received two Emmy nominations; Blue Jasmine; Ant-Man; Vinyl; Master of None; I, Tonya; Homecoming; Angie Tribeca; Motherless Brooklyn; The Irishman; The Jesus Rolls; Mr. Robot; and Bojack Horseman, among others. On stage, Cannavale has appeared in Mauritius, for which he earned a Tony nomination, The Motherf**ker With the Hat, for which he won a Drama Desk Award and earned a Tony nomination, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Big Knife, The Lifespan of a Fact, and most recently, Medea at BAM. He will appear in the forthcoming films Superintelligence, Jolt, Once Upon a Time in Staten Island, Blonde, and Lapham Rising.
Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the National Book Award finalist short story collection Her Body and Other Parties; the memoir In the Dream House; and the limited-run comic series The Low, Low Woods. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s, and Guernica, among other publications. She is currently a Guggenheim Fellow and the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.
Maulik Pancholy is an actor, author, and activist. He is best known for his television roles on 30 Rock, Weeds, Whitney, The Good Fight, and for lending his voice to the long-running animated series Phineas & Ferb and Sanjay & Craig. On stage, he starred on Broadway in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, in The New Group’s production of Good for Otto, and most recently returned to Broadway in Bess Wohl’s Grand Horizons at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Pancholy’s debut novel, The Best at It, was named a 2020 Stonewall Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the American Library Association’s Booklist. Pancholy is the co-founder of the anti-bullying organization ActToChange.org.
Simon Rich is an American humorist, novelist, and television writer, known for being the youngest writer ever hired on Saturday Night Live and writing the Thurber Prize-nominated humor collection Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations. His most recent work, Hits and Misses, was published in 2018. He is the creator and showrunner of the FXX series Man Seeking Woman, which is based on his collection of short stories The Last Girlfriend on Earth, and the TBS series Miracle Workers, based on his novel What In God’s Name. Rich is a frequent contributor to the “Shouts & Murmurs” section of The New Yorker.
Emily Skeggs is a Tony and Grammy Award-nominated actor, writer, and vocalist. A born and bred New Yorker, her off-Broadway and regional theater credits include Take Me Along at the Irish Rep, David Cromer’s Our Town at the Huntington Theater Company, and Naomi Wallace’s And I and Silence at the Signature Theater Company. She was nominated for Tony and Grammy awards for her role in the 2015 Best Musical winning production of Fun Home at Circle in the Square. Film and television credits include WGN’s Salem, Dustin Lance Black’s ABC miniseries When We Rise, and Lifetime’s Love You To Death starring opposite Marcia Gay Harden. You can see her in the upcoming American High feature for Hulu, The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, and the anticipated feature Dinner in America, from director Adam Rehmeier, which debuted at Sundance 2020. You can currently find her in Los Angeles, where she maintains a small veggie garden, speaking to her plants. She recently taught her cat to sit.
Jess Walter is the author of six novels, including the bestsellers Beautiful Ruins and The Financial Lives of the Poets, The Zero, a National Book Award finalist, Citizen Vince, winner of the Edgar Award for best novel, and the forthcoming The Cold Millions. His fiction has been featured in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and Playboy, as well as The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications. Walter is also a career journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.
Allison Williams is best known for her work in the critically acclaimed series Girls, for which she received a Critics’ Choice Television Award nomination, and the Academy Award-winning film Get Out. Additional film and television credits include Peter Pan Live!, Patrick Melrose, The Perfection, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Williams serves as an ambassador for Horizons National, an education nonprofit, and has also worked with the charitable organizations (RED) and the Transformational Prison Project. She will appear in the forthcoming film Horizon Line.
“Riding Solo” by Simon Rich, from Hits and Misses (Little, Brown and Company, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Simon Rich. Used by permission of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.
“Miss Laura’s School for Esquire Men” by Carmen Maria Machado, from Tin House (July 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Carmen Maria Machado. Used by permission of Neon Literary.
“The Meeting” by Aimee Bender, from Willful Creatures (Anchor Books, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Aimee Bender. Used by permission of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.
“Magnificent Desolation” by Jess Walter, from The Spokesman-Review (September 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Jess Walter. Used by permission of John Hawkins and Associates, Inc.
Selected Shorts is supported by the Dungannon Foundation, sponsor of The Rea Award for the Short Story; and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, publisher of The Best American Short Stories, edited in 2019 by Anthony Doerr.
Support is also provided by the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund, The Shubert Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, the Henry Nias Foundation, the Charina Endowment Fund, The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, and the Grodzins Fund.
Selected Shorts is also made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Symphony Space thanks our generous supporters, including our Board of Directors, Producers Circle, and members, who make our programs possible with their annual support.
The Selected Shorts podcast is sponsored by Zabar’s and Zabars.com.
Selected Shorts is produced by Symphony Space and broadcast on more than 150 stations around the country. The series began in 1985 and enjoys sold-out performances to this day. Selected Shorts was conceived with a simple premise: take great stories by well-known and emerging writers and have them performed by terrific actors of stage and screen. Featuring stories around a lively theme, the favorite works of a guest author, or a special collaboration, each Selected Shorts event is a unique night of literature in performance.
Recent readers include Ellen Burstyn, Kate Walsh, Bebe Neuwirth, Claire Danes, Michael Shannon, Kyle Maclachlan, LeVar Burton, Jane Curtin, Danielle Brooks, Cynthia Nixon, Rainn Wilson, Holly Hunter, Hugh Dancy, Joan Allen, Josh Radnor, Tony Shalhoub, Maggie Gyllenhaal, BD Wong, and more.