On Saturday, Nov. 15, The Grand Theatre was host to Selected Shorts, a Public Radio International broadcast that often features notable actors and stage performers reading short stories.
The show, which has been running every Sunday night for almost 30 years, is currently on tour and made a stop in Salt Lake City. Using traditional radio storytelling and performance, this program has been drawing radio listeners into a nostalgic form of entertainment.
The event was presented by KUER and Radiowest host Doug Fabrizio who introduced each of the readers, which included actors Parker Posey and David Strathairn.
Each performer took turns reading from some of the world’s best literature, this event featuring short stories by T.C. Boyle and Steven Millhauser.
“Those of us who have been listening to the show still, of course, miss the man who created it and hosted it for so many years. The great Isaiah Sheffer,” said Fabrizio during the program. “It was almost exactly two years ago that he died and at the time the Irish writer, Colum McCann, said that the thing that Isaiah understood was that stories were our glue. He knew that they had to be good enough to break your heart and keen enough to mend it.”
Storytelling and theater have a long history of bringing people together and captivating audiences. Each evening performance of Selected Shorts is centered around a theme.
The theme for this series of Selected Shorts was “Surprising Tales.”
Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia in the TV show “Criminal Minds,” began the evening reading of “The Red Fox Fur Coat” written by Teolinda Gersao, about a bank clerk’s obsession with a red fox fur coat that transformed its wearer to something unusual and quite unexpected.
Christina Pickles, who has acted in several television series such as “St. Elsewhere” and “Friends,” read from Steven Millhauser’s “In the Reign of Harad IV.”
Pickles had an elegant voice and fairytale-like flare as she read a tale about a “maker of miniatures” and things unseen, carved from a pit of a cherry.
An entertaining reading of the short story, “Crazy Glue” by Etgar Keret, was read by Parker Posey. Posey has been in many films ranging from Christopher Guest mockumentaries such as “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show” to independent films like “Dazed and Confused.”
Her style of reading left a suspended silence, with edge of your seat humor. In an unexpected and turn-the-world-upside-down sort of way, her pauses and deep silences added to the drama and suspense.
The evening ended with a tale entitled “When I Woke Up This Morning, Everything I Had Was Gone,” read by David Strathairn, who starred in movies such as “Good Night, and Good Luck” and in the television series “The Sopranos.”
The tale is best described by one line in the story which calls the enjoyment of liquor “sweet and simple,” but that can also be described as deep and poignant.
It kept taking a turn to the unexpected, as it left the listener unsure where it was going to go next, which lived up to the theme of a “Surprising Tale.”
Selected Shorts is broadcast on KUER 90.1 every Sunday night at 7 p.m. The rebroadcast of this event will be available to listeners next Sunday, Nov. 23.