Selected Shorts in the Spring

By Allie Catalano

Selected Shorts is a popular travelling series and podcast produced by Public Radio International. Stories by new and old writers alike are read by a variety of actors and actresses. The broadcast is aired on over 150 different stations and the podcast is popular on iTunes. The Selected Shorts tour stopped at UAlbany with their current theme of “Readers and Writers.”

The show began with host Jane Kaczemarek introducing the show. She explained how wildly popular Selected Shorts has been. She then went on to crack a few jokes about UAlbany to warm the crowd up saying, it looked like “Lincoln Center”, and how this part of New York is a lot better than the city which just smells like “hot garbage.” She went on to say a little bit more about the night’s theme; the writers works were purposefully focused on writing as art – a creative process.

Three pieces were read, but the first really stood out to me. Entitled Dangerous Dog by Kirsty Gunn, the host described the many accolades of the accomplished writer who had even had one of her works, Rain, turned into a movie. In response, a huge round of applause rolled through the audience as the first reader, Alysia Reiner, was introduced. Reiner’s acting includes: Orange is the New Black, The Fix, and so much more.

Reiner began to read Gunn’s story, which was based on a time in her life when she felt very repressed. That changed for her when she began taking a writing class,the objective of which was to write about something that had happened in her life that had long reaching consequences. The class was taught by Reid Gardner who Kristy was instantly drawn to and felt was an amazing teacher. Gardner taught his students in a unique way; he wanted the students to teach the teacher. She would often daydream about his “silky long hair.” One day, she was running when she saw a dog being tormented by some young men. She immediately stopped and tried to question them; she had never believed that anyone was inherently mean and couldn’t understand why they were harassing the dog. She tried to coax the dog into giving her hand a sniff and it tried to bite her. With enough loving persistence she was able to convince the dog to lick her hand. She talked to the boys some more and was able to figure out that the dog wasn’t even any of theirs. She calmed the dog and the boys. She was able to use the experience story for her class, ended up keeping the dog and marrying Reid. Reid told her it was a great story “it was just a case of writing it down.” Reiner finished the story to a standing ovation from the crowd.

The following two readings were equally enjoyed by the audience. It was a wonderfully engaging event that I would recommend to anyone who loves great storytelling.