Pen and paper, a tango, peanut butter and jelly: some things just take two! Actress and activist Cynthia Nixon (Ratched) hosts an evening that celebrates the power of two with short stories that show us what happens in moments of competing desires, exquisite cooperation, and chance encounters. With performances by husband-and-wife team Michael McKean (Better Call Saul) and Annette O'Toole (Virgin River), Hettienne Park (The Outsider), and Kate Walsh (The Umbrella Academy). Plus, a bonus performance by Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds) of our 2021 Stella Kupferberg Short Story Prize winner.
Hosted by Cynthia Nixon
Once by Lauren Groff
Performed by Cynthia Nixon
Funeral Platter by Greg Ames
Performed by Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole
Slow and Steady by Rachel Khong
Performed by Hettienne Park
Something Shiny by Elizabeth Crane
Performed by Kate Walsh
Stay tuned after the program for a bonus story!
Winner of the Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize
Reality by Diana Spechler
Performed by Kirsten Vangsness
Our greatest actors transport us through the magic of fiction, one short story at a time. Sometimes funny. Always moving. Selected Shorts connects you to the world with a rich diversity of voices from literature, film, theater, and comedy.
Books by tonight's featured authors can be purchased from our friends at Strand.
|This event is available to view with the Symphony Space 20/21 Season Pass.|
To learn about the artists,
Greg Ames teaches writing and literature courses at Colgate. He is the author of Buffalo Lockjaw, a novel that won a NAIBA Book of the Year Award, and Funeral Platter, a collection of twenty short stories, including "Benefactor," which was featured on Selected Shorts. His work has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading,Southern Review, McSweeney’s, The Sun, Catapult, and North American Review, among many others. His short fiction has been cited for distinction in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology.
Elizabeth Crane is the author of four collections of short stories, Turf, When the Messenger Is Hot, All This Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter as well as two novels, We Only Know So Much and The History of Great Things. Her work has been translated into several languages and has been featured in numerous publications and on Selected Shorts. Crane is a recipient of the Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award. Her work has been adapted for the stage by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater company. She teaches in the UCR-Palm Desert low-residency MFA program. We Only Know So Much has been adapted for film, and her memoir This Story Will Change is forthcoming from Counterpoint in 2022.
Lauren Groff is the author of six books of fiction, the most recent the novel Matrix (September
2021). Her work has won The Story Prize, the ABA Indies’ Choice Award, and France’s Grand
Prix de l’Héroïne, was twice a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and the Kirkus
Prize, and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Prize, the Southern Book Prize,
and the Los Angeles Times Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim
Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and was named one of Granta’s Best
of Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.
Rachel Khong’s debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, was honored with the California Book Award for First Fiction; it was also named a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for First Fiction and Best Book of the Year by NPR, O magazine, Vogue, Esquire, Huffington Post, Nylon, and Booklist, among other publications. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Tin House, and The New York Times. She previously served as executive editor of Lucky Peach. In 2018, Khong founded The Ruby, a work and event space for women and nonbinary writers and artists in San Francisco’s Mission district.
Michael McKean is recognized for film and television roles including Laverne & Shirley, Young Doctors in Love, This Is Spinal Tap, Clue, Coneheads, Saturday Night Live, The Brady Bunch Movie, Best in Show, The X-Files, A Mighty Wind, Food: Fact or Fiction?, and recent turns on Better Call Saul, for which he won a Satellite Award, the adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens, Grace and Frankie, The Good Place, At Home with Amy Sedaris, and Breeders. McKean has appeared on stage in productions of The Pajama Game, Our Town, Superior Donuts, King Lear, All the Way, The Little Foxes, and The True. He is also a Grammy winner for the title song in the film A Mighty Wind, shared with regular collaborators Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. For the same film, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” which he co-wrote with his wife, Annette O’Toole.
Cynthia Nixon made her film debut in Little Darlings at 12 years old and her Broadway debut at 14 in The Philadelphia Story. Since then she’s appeared in more than 40 plays, scores of films and television shows, and received 2 Emmys, 2 Tonys, and a Grammy Award. She is best known for her role as Miranda on HBO’s Sex and the City. In 2017, Nixon alternated the roles of Regina and Birdie with Laura Linney in Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes on Broadway, winning her 2nd Tony Award. She also appeared on numerous "best actress of 2018" lists for her portrayal of American poet Emily Dickinson in Terrence Davies' much-lauded film A Quiet Passion. Also in 2018 she ran for Governor of New York state. Currently, she can be seen in Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series Ratched opposite Sarah Paulson and will star in Julian Fellowes’ The Gilded Age. Nixon spends a good portion of her off-time fighting for funding for New York public schools, abortion rights, and LGBT equality. She and her wife, Christine, have 3 children: Sam, Charlie, and Max.
Annette O'Toole’s film and television credits include Cat People, 48 Hrs, Cross My Heart, Superman III, The Kennedys of Massachusetts, for which she received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, the It miniseries, Nash Bridges, Smallville, Halt and Catch Fire, 11.22.63, Women Who Kill, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, The Punisher, Blow the Man Down, and Kidding. She has appeared on stage in productions of The Good Book, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, The Show-Off, The Traveling Lady, Man from Nebraska, Southern Comfort, for which she received the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress in a Musical, plus Drama Desk and Drama League nominations, Hamlet in Bed, Magnolia, and The Seagull. She can currently be seen on the Netflix series Virgin River. For the film A Mighty Wind, O’Toole received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song for “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” which she co-wrote with her husband, Michael McKean.
Hettienne Park is an actress and writer best known for her roles on The Outsider and Hannibal. Additional screen credits include The OA, Blacklist, High Maintenance, Bride Wars, Damages, The Good Wife, Young Adult, Blindspot, and most recently, 9-1-1: Lonestar and Prodigal Son. Park appeared on Broadway in Seminar and off-Broadway in The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures; her stage work earned her a Theatre World Award, honoring her outstanding debuts on and off-Broadway. Park’s forthcoming projects include Gossip Girl on HBO Max and Netflix’s Don’t Look Up, written and directed by Adam McKay.
Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who by Fire and Skinny. Her essays and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Ploughshares, Esquire, The Guardian, Paris Review Daily, Glimmer Train Stories, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, Tin House Open Bar, GQ, Southern Review, and Harper's. She has received awards from Yaddo, A Room of Her Own Foundation, The Steinbeck Fellowship, and elsewhere.
Kirsten Vangsness is an LA-based actor, writer, and distillery owner. Her performance-art pieces Mess and Cleo, Theo and Wu—a space-romp historical musical—went to the 2019 fringe with rave reviews, and she has co-penned 4 episodes of Criminal Minds, including the series finale. She is a longtime member of Theatre of Note in Hollywood and has been nominated for and won numerous awards. She can be seen in the films Kill Me, Deadly; Dave Made a Maze; and Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse. Vangsness is most known for playing the tech kitten Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds. Currently, she hosts Kirsten’s Agenda on YouTube.
Kate Walsh is widely known for her starring role as Dr. Addison Montgomery in the ABC dramas Grey’s Anatomy / Private Practice as well as Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, The Umbrella Academy, and Emily in Paris. Most recently Walsh co-starred with Liam Neeson in the film Honest Thief and with Donal Logue in Sometime Other than Now. Walsh is an advocate and voice for change. She is passionate about carbon offsets, climate change, as well as ocean and marine life conservation. She has always been a strong voice in the fight for women’s rights, serving as a member of Planned Parenthood’s Board of Advocates for more than 10 years, as well as being an ambassador for Operation Smile. She created and founded the award-winning fragrance Boyfriend Perfume, and continues to grow and expand the company.
“Once” by Lauren Groff, from McSweeney’s Issue 49 (May 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Lauren Groff. Used by permission of The Clegg Agency.
“Funeral Platter” by Greg Ames, from Funeral Platter (Arcade, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Greg Ames. Used by permission of the author.
“Slow and Steady” by Rachel Khong, from The Cut (April 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Rachel Khong. Used by permission of Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
“Something Shiny” by Elizabeth Crane, from When The Messenger Is Hot (Little, Brown and Company, 2003). Copyright © 2003 by Elizabeth Crane. Used by permission of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.
Selected Shorts is supported by the Dungannon Foundation, creator of The Rea Award for the Short Story. Support is also provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, The Shubert Foundation, the Charina Endowment Fund, the Henry Nias Foundation, the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, the Vidda Foundation, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, the Lemberg 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.