Quantcast
metroactive logo

Shorts Circuit

In Culture
FIC FAN: For actress and Selected Shorts host Jane Kaczmarek, reading fiction is a unique acting experience.

FIC FAN: For actress and Selected Shorts host Jane Kaczmarek, reading fiction is a unique acting experience.

Though she has seven consecutive Emmy nominations under her belt, actress and Selected Shorts host Jane Kaczmarek was starstruck meeting author George Saunders.

 
“It really was one of the proudest moments of my career, to just be on stage and hang out and have my picture with him. I can’t tell you how corny that is,” she laughs, recalling an event hosted by New York City’s Symphony Space where she performed a piece from Saunders’ novel Lincoln in the Bardo

Symphony Space produces Selected Shorts, a widely acclaimed radio program and live stage show that began in 1985 and now tours nationally. Stanford Live presents a Selected Shorts performance at Bing Concert Hall on December 5th. The afternoon’s program, hosted by Kaczmarek, also includes her reading of a Lionel Shriver short, author of the novel We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Selected Shorts often organizes its episodes around broad, conceptual themes. Stanford Live cites this particular event’s motifs as “reconciliation and forgiveness,” but the span of interpretation is wide. Jason Dirden, a star in the musical drama American Soul, will perform a Percival Everett story from 1996 about a Black musician subverting a common hate symbol. Kimberly Guerrero, who appeared in this year’s Reservation Dogs, reads “Paradise” by Yxta Maya Murray. “Paradise,” selected for 2021’s Best American Short Stories, follows a widowed indigenous woman and her stubborn, conservative white father-in-law as they evacuate their home before the horrendously destructive Camp Fire in Northern California.

Selected Shorts’ penchant for thematic curation allows for conversation between stories with varying settings, author backgrounds and years of publication. In a similar vein, an actor’s interpretation of a reading can breathe fresh life into dialogue and narrative voice, regardless of whether the audience member has read it before.

“In acting, one of the wonderful reasons to go see ‘The Three Sisters’ (for example) is that every time you see it, the person playing each character does it differently than the person before,” Kaczmarek says.

As a performer, the inverse is also true: actors get to see each other work in a different range than normal. Favorites Kaczmarek have worked with on Selected Shorts include Broadway veteran Maria Tucci, whom she considers a mentor, and actor/director Liev Schriber. 

“All that stuff I told you I do: underline, parentheses, practice practice practice,” Kaczmarek says, referring to her process of color-coding each character’s dialogue, ”we did a live event together at The Getty, and what he read was so unbelievably powerful. I save all my stories in folders…and when Liev walked off I just thought oh, was that incredible, and I went to get the pages he had just tossed away. I looked at them…there wasn’t a mark on them. I thought, I bet he just came and read this cold. That’s how good he is.”

What makes Selected Shorts a career favorite for Kaczmarek, though, is the freedom she has to channel her acting skills into a more expansive scope. While an actor in a stage or screen role must respond to the director’s vision and chemistry with fellow cast-mates, reading prose out loud allows her to fill every part.

“Looking out into the black void of a theater, I could conjure anything I wanted,” Kaczmarek remembers realizing, “without it being gashed by what the actor was or wasn’t giving me. Reading stories, the audience is there and you hear them responding, but”—here she cracks up—“you don’t have to pay attention to any other actors. I get to read the husband and I get to read the wife! I don’t have to think ‘Jeez, why’d they cast that guy as my husband?’”

After two decades working with Selected Shorts, Kaczmarek compares the reading experience

to conducting an orchestra, using live feedback as her guide for what to play up through each piece. Recently, she relistened to a tape of her first episode (“remember cassette tapes?”), an excerpt from Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.

“I was still really trying to internalize the whole thing. I realized it’s so much more important to just sell it. I didn’t do what I know now—which is trust the audience.”

Selected Shorts
Sun, 2:30pm, $32+
Bing Concert Hall, Palo Alto

 

 

no comments
Add your comment

Back to top
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -
dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts -
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -
dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts - dubai escorts
istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort - istanbul escort -