Unexpected Developments

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This program features four brief tales by absolute masters of the form—Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Saki and Thomas Wolfe—in which something unexpected occurs. 

The first story, “Sphinx,” is an elegant chiller by Edgar Allan Poe. This great American poet and storyteller is credited by at least some literary historians as the actual inventor of the short story, or at least of the subgenres of fantasy and detective fiction. “Sphinx,” a haunting, visceral tale, is one of the former, and is read Kathleen Widdoes, whose stage credits include “The Importance of Being Earnest", Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs," the revival of "You Can't Take It With You," and "Hamlet.” On television she has appeared—like almost every reader for SELECTED SHORTS—on “Law and Order,” as well as most of the major daytime television dramas.

We turn for our second story of the unexpected from Edgar Allan Poe to a French master almost 50 years younger than Poe, Guy de Maupassant.  Like Poe, de Maupassant died young, at the age of 43—in an asylum in Paris. And like Poe, de Maupassant was very prolific, the author of over 300 short stories.  de Maupassant was a protégé of Gustav Flaubert’s and may owe something of his style to this exacting master.  The reader of his intricate “Minuet” is the distinguished stage and screen actor Rene Auberjonois, whose many credits include a recurring role on “Boston Legal.”   Stage credits include “Coco” (Tony Award), “The Good Doctor,” and “City of Angels,” as well as Shakespeare productions including “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III.”  Screen roles include that of Father Mulcahy in Robert Altman’s legendary “M*A*S*H.”

Our third story is by the English writer H.H. Munro, who published under the name of Saki. Munro was born in British-ruled Burma in 1870 and died in combat in World War I in 1916.  His books include The Unbearable Bassington and The Rise of the Russian Empire.  His many short stories, such as “The Open Window” and “Sredni Vashtar,” were celebrated for their dark subversive twists.  The story presented on this program, “The Toys of Peace,” while a little mellower, is characteristically caustic about human nature.  The reader is Dana Ivey, whose screen and stage credits include “The Color Purple;” “Postcards from the Edge;” “Major Barbara;” “Present Laughter” and “The Last Night in Ballyhoo.”

Our fourth story is Thomas Wolfe’s “Only The Dead Know Brooklyn.”  Wolfe is the celebrated author of such American classics as Look Homeward, Angel and Time and the River.  SHORTS host Isaiah Sheffer reads this eccentric tale of an unsettling encounter on a New York City subway line, and before his read, provides an impromptu lesson in how to speak Brooklynese (forget “dese” and “dem” and “dose boids”, he says.)

The musical interlude is Ravel’s Menuet sur le nom d’Haydn, performed by Angela Hewitt.  The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”

For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit http://www.symphonyspace.org/genres/seriesPage.php?seriesId=71&genreId=4

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