Beloved author and bookstore owner Ann Patchett knows a thing or two about celebrated writers and insatiable bibliophiles, so we invited her to host an evening of short stories about writer envy, finding your voice, borrowing first editions, and discovering inspiration in the power of the written word. With performances by actors Michael Cerveris, Deborah S. Craig, Jane Curtin, Peter Francis James, James Naughton, Denis O’Hare, Anthony Ramos, and Rita Wolf.
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.
Hosted by Ann Patchett
As a 28-Year-Old Latino, I’m Shocked My New Novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged
White Lady, Has Been So Poorly Received by Carlos Greaves
Performed by Anthony Ramos
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
Performed by Deborah S. Craig
The Rise and Fall of Mortimer Scrivens by A. A. Milne
Performed by Michael Cerveris, Jane Curtin, Peter Francis James, James Naughton, Rita Wolf
My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan
Performed by Denis O’Hare
We encourage you to purchase books by our featured authors from your local independent bookstore.
|This event is available to view with the Symphony Space 20/21 Season Pass.
To Learn About the Artists
Michael Cerveris is the two-time Tony Award and Grammy Award-winning Broadway star of Fun Home and Assassins. Additional Broadway credits include Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy, Evita, Titanic, LoveMusik, Cymbeline, Hedda Gabler, Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), and many others. Off-Broadway, he has appeared in King Lear, Road Show, Nine Lives, Nassim, and many more. His film and television credits include Fringe, Treme, Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, The Mexican, Cirque Du Freak, The Tick, Gotham, Mosaic, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Elementary, Evil, and The Plot Against America. Cerveris also works as a musician, both solo and with his band, Loose Cattle. He can be seen in the forthcoming Julian Fellowes series The Gilded Age for HBOMax.
Deborah S. Craig’s recent comedy turns include guest-starring on the hit Comedy Central series Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens and as a series regular on the pilot The Emperor of Malibu from acclaimed author Kevin Kwan, David Sangalli, Warner Brothers, and CBS opposite Ken Jeong. On Broadway she originated the role of Marcy Park in the Tony Award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, for which she received critical acclaim, a Drama Desk Award, and the distinction of creating the first Korean American character on Broadway. On television, Miss Craig is known for her roles on The Blacklist, Transparent, Hart of Dixie, and Six Degrees. She has guest starred on the recently released Platonic from writer/director Erin C. Buckley, Better Things, Workaholics, Bull, Instinct, Elementary, Son of Zorn, Almost There, and Dog With a Blog. Her film work includes A Nice Girl Like You, Poor Greg Drowning, The Outfield, Kiss Me, Kill Me, and Ghost Town. Miss Craig is an avid reader, a yogi and a transracial adoptee. IG: @friendswithpandas
Jane Curtin has appeared on Broadway in Noises Off, Candida, and Our Town. Her off-Broadway work includes Love Letters and the musical revue Pretzels, which she co-wrote. She starred in the television series 3rd Rock from the Sun and won back-to-back Emmy Awards for her role on Kate & Allie. She is an original cast member of Saturday Night Live and also starred in the television film series The Librarian and its spin-off, The Librarians. Her film credits include Coneheads; Antz; I Love You, Man; I Don’t Know How She Does It; The Heat; The Spy Who Dumped Me; Can You Ever Forgive Me?; and Ode to Joy. She starred on the television series Unforgettable and has had guest appearances on The Good Wife, 48 Hours ’til Monday, The Good Fight, Broad City, and most recently United We Fall and Godmothered. Curtin will appear in the forthcoming films Welcome to Pine Grove! and Never Too Late.
Carlos Greaves is an Afro-Latino engineer, writer and filmmaker based in Boston. He teaches online satire writing at The Second City, and is the editor of the satirical news site RF News. His writing has been featured in The New Yorker and he is a frequent contributor to the humor site McSweeney’s, where he wrote three of the site’s top 20 most-read articles of 2020.
Peter Francis James has appeared on Broadway in Hillary and Clinton, Present Laughter, The Merchant of Venice, On Golden Pond, Drowning Crow, and Judgment at Nuremberg. His Off-Broadway credits include Stuff Happens, for which he won the Obie, Lucille Lortel, and Drama Desk Award; Much Ado About Nothing and Venus at the Public Theater; The Maids (Obie Award) at Classic Stage Company; The Lady From Dubuque at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; and Cymbeline with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His screen credits include Oz, Boardwalk Empire, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Rough Night, The Code, The Bold Type, Godfather of Harlem, and Katy Keene. James has narrated more than 60 audiobooks.
Ian McEwan’s works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award and the Prix Fémina Etranger for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement was made into an Oscar-winning film. McEwan was awarded the Bodleian Meda and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Alan Alexander (A. A.) Milne (1882 – 1956) was an English poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and children’s book author. Though best known for his stories about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and poetry collections When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, Milne was a prolific writer, penning essays, novels, poetry collections, storybooks, plays, and screenplays throughout his lifetime.
James Naughton has won Tony Awards as Best Actor in a Musical for City of Angels and Chicago. On Broadway, he directed the Tony-nominated productions of Arthur Miller’s The Price and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, starring Paul Newman. He also directed the television production of Our Town for Showtime and Masterpiece Theatre. He has appeared in numerous films and television shows, including The Devil Wears Prada, Damages, Gossip Girl, Ally McBeal, Planet of the Apes, Hostages, The Blacklist, The Affair, Equity, Odd Mom Out, The Tap, The Independents, The Romanoffs, and The Accidental Wolf.
Denis O’Hare’s screen credits include Garden State, A Mighty Heart, Michael Clayton, Milk, The Comedians, Duplicity, The Good Wife, True Blood, American Horror Story, HBO’s The Normal Heart, Dallas Buyers Club, This Is Us, Big Little Lies, Lizzie, The Goldfinch, American Gods, Dr. Seuss' the Grinch Musical, and The Postcard Killings. He won a Tony Award for his performance in Take Me Out and a Drama Desk Award for his role in Sweet Charity. He is the co-writer, with Lisa Peterson, and star of An Iliad, which was performed at the New York Theatre Workshop and The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. He and Peterson also co-authored a play about the bible, The Good Book, which premiered at the Court Theatre in Chicago and subsequently had a hit run at Berkeley Rep. O’Hare’s upcoming projects include The Nevers and Infinite Storm with Naomi Watts.
Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, Lambslide, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. The Dutch House was published in September 2019.
Anthony Ramos was featured in the original cast of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning Broadway phenomenon Hamilton and stars in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s highly anticipated feature film of In the Heights directed by Jon M. Chu. He appeared in the Academy Award-winning film A Star Is Born. Additional credits include Monsters and Men, for which he won the Imagen Award for Best Actor in a Feature Film, Honest Thief starring Liam Neeson, Godzilla: King of Monsters, and the Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, created by Spike Lee. His debut album, The Good & The Bad, debuted in the Top 10 on iTunes Pop Albums Chart and was followed by a North American Tour. Ramos recently released a new single and music video entitled Stop. He is on the Artistic Advisory Board of Opening Act, a theater program for underserved high schools in New York City. Upcoming projects include the HBO series In Treatment.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four acclaimed poetry books and the short story collection How to Pronounce Knife, winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller prize, a New York Times Editors' Choice, and a TIME 100 Must-Read Book of 2020. She has been honored with an O. Henry Award and appeared in Harper's Magazine,The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta, NOON, Journey Prize Stories 2016, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018, O. Henry Prize Stories 2019, and Best Canadian Stories 2020. Thammavongsa was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and was raised and educated in Toronto, where she now lives.
Rita Wolf most recently appeared off-Broadway at the Public Theater in Richard Nelson’s The Michaels. She will return for the second installment of Nelson’s family saga, in The Michaels Abroad, when the world reopens. She has also been featured in the premiere of Hammaad Chaudhury's debut play An Ordinary Muslim at The New York Theatre Workshop and Emma and Max at The Flea Theatre, written and directed by Todd Solondz. Additional New York theater credits include David Greig’s The American Pilot at the Manhattan Theatre Club, for which she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, and the premiere of Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul at New York Theatre Workshop and later at BAM. Her film credits include Stephen Frears' My Beautiful Laundrette, Spike Lee's Girl 6, Coronation Street, Wing and a Prayer, and The Good Wife. Wolf is featured in the Audible recording of Evil Eye, a noir drama written by Madhuri Shekar.
“As a 28-Year-Old Latino, I’m Shocked My New Novel, Memoirs of a Middle-Aged White Lady, Has Been So Poorly Received” by Carlos Greaves, from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (January 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Carlos Greaves. Used by permission of the author.
“How to Pronounce Knife” by Souvankham Thammavongsa, from How to Pronounce Knife: Stories (April 2020). Copyright © 2020 by Souvankham Thammavongsa. Used by permission of Aevitas Creative Management.
"The Rise and Fall of Mortimer Scrivens" by A. A. Milne, from A Table Near the Band (January 1950). Copyright © 1950 by A.A. Milne. Used by permission of Curtis Brown Agency.
“My Purple Scented Novel” by Ian McEwan. Published by The New Yorker, 2016. Copyright © 2016 by Ian McEwan. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN.
Selected Shorts is supported by the Dungannon Foundation, sponsor 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 Scherman Foundation, the Henry Nias 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.