On Selected Shorts, 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.
Over 35 years ago, Selected Shorts was born on the stage at Symphony Space and quickly became one of the best known shows of its kind spawning a popular public radio show, podcast, audio collections, and national tours. The series was conceived with a simple premise: take great stories by well-known and emerging writers and have them brought to life by terrific actors of stage and screen. Whether 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.
The radio show is recorded live from performances at the Peter Sharp Theater at Symphony Space in New York, as well as around the US on tours. From the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Selected Shorts is one of the premiere reading series in New York City, attracting some of the biggest names in entertainment.
There is a theme to each Selected Shorts episode and performance. Several stories are presented around each theme. The stories are almost always fiction, sometimes classic, sometimes new, always performed by great actors from stage, screen and television. Evenings are often co-hosted by writers, literary producers, and other interesting characters.
Recent readers include Ellen Burstyn, Kathleen Turner, Edie Falco, Claire Danes, Michael Shannon, Tony Shalhoub, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, Jane Curtin, Zachary Quinto, Anika Noni Rose, Bebe Neuwirth, Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Tony Hale, Josh Radnor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, BD Wong, and many more.
Look below for a list of recent Selected Shorts episodes. For more information about the show, click here.
Host Meg Wolitzer presents two stories in which some things are saved and some are left behind. Both stories also have a connection to the German language. In Haruki Murakami’s “Lederhosen,” performed by Aasif Mandvi, the traditional German shorts become a singular obsession for one half of a married couple. In Elizabeth McCracken’s “Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark,” a couple and their son find themselves in over their heads. Mike Doyle is the reader.
Host Meg Wolitzer presents stories by Kurt Vonnegut in which the Slaughterhouse Five author somehow managed to make a bleak dystopia funny and a high school band teacher a hero. The stories explore the darkly absurd side he’s known for—“Harrison Bergeron” performed by Becky Ann Baker––and a softer, touching side in “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” performed by Dylan Baker. The show features commentary from The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper and backstage interviews with the Bakers, a husband-and-wife duo.
Roxane Gay's story was published in an issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in which all the authors "covered" a story, in the way a musician might cover a famous song. Gay took a famous Margaret Atwood story, titled "Rape Fantasies," as her inspiration. Both "Rape Fantasies" and "Men on Bikes" are about imagination, revenge and joking about subjects that make people uneasy. It's read by actress Jane Kaczmarek.Comedian Alison Leiby knows how to make us laugh about a subject people aren't prepared to laugh about. Her solo show "Oh God, a Show About Abortion," had a sold-out run in New York and has been touring the U.S. She and host Aparna Nancherla discuss how she approached finding the funny in a hot button topic.
On this Selected Shorts program, host Meg Wolitzer presents stories about journeys—physical and emotional—that end in unexpected places. In “A Woman Driving Alone,” by Marie-Helene Bertino, the main character travels s long way to see a friend, but seems also to be escaping a challenging moment in her life. The piece was commissioned for Selected Shorts’ anthology Small Odysseys, and is read by Amber Tamblyn. In Tom Perrotta’s “Nine Inches”, a teacher drives only across town, to chaperone a middle school dance, but almost gets into trouble himself. The story is performed by Santino Fontana.
Host Meg Wolitzer presents stories of inspirations small and large. In these tales, writers investigate moments in which art inspires life, or life inspires art, especially in a visual medium. In Elizabeth Crane’s “Blue Girl,” read by Valorie Curry, a young woman's secret life is given an unusual public forum. In Jai Chakrabarti’s “Lessons with Father,” commissioned for our Small Odysseys anthology, a middle-aged child tries to connect with her late father through brushstrokes. The reader is Purva Bedi. And in William Boyd’s “Varengeville” read by Dan Stevens, a young man strays from his famous family as he discovers himself on canvas.
On this week’s SELECTED SHORTS, Meg Wolitzer presents two stories about love, or the next best thing. In Pam Houston’s “How to Talk to a Hunter” a smart woman can’t get enough of what her man can’t offer. The reader is Mia Dillon. And a widow and a lonely man make an odd couple in Lisa Ko’s “Pat + Sam,” performed by Jennifer Ikeda.