When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Tale brought back from the Big Apple
Short story readings that have proved a hit in New York with the likes of Kevin Spacey are set to grip Oxford audiences.
Short Stories Aloud is the brainchild of Oxford Brookes University lecturer Sarah Franklin.
The idea is that professional actors read aloud short stories, followed by chat and discussion with the authors and actors.
Mrs Franklin’s version is loosely based on Selected Shorts in New York, which attracts A-list actors to read stories, often the works of classic authors such as Charles Dickens.
Mrs Franklin said: “I worked with an offshoot of Selected Shorts over in Seattle and I always said I thought it would work really well somewhere like Oxford because there are lots of people who like books.
“Outside the city’s literary festival, there’s not much that is cosy and comfortable where you can come and get involved in books with performance involved.”
While the actors selected for the first event, at the Old Fire Station, George Street, on Tuesday are relatively unknown, the stories are from some of the best up-and-coming writers.
They are DW Wilson, winner of the 2011 BBC National Short Story Award, and Roshi Fernando, who was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award last year.
Stage actor Matt Gibbs will read DW Wilson’s Don’t Touch the Ground and Sreya Rao will read Roshi Fernando’s Love Me Tender.
Mrs Franklin, who teaches part-time on the publishing masters degree at Brookes, said: “I have always been a short-story fanatic and I knew the authors I wanted so I contacted them and asked them.
“The stories selected are both loosely themed about teenage life and tell two very different experiences.”
There is capacity for about 50 people to attend the event, with tickets priced at £5, but as it expands the plan is to move into larger spaces at the venue.
Mrs Franklin said: “We are starting it quite small to get it small and perfectly formed.
“We want to make it quite friendly and attach a regular audience but as we progress I think audiences will increase.
“If Kevin Spacey ever fancied doing it we would be keen to have him along, and I did actually think of contacting him and asking if he would come to the inaugural one but I thought it was a bit unlikely.”
Visit oldfirestation.org.uk to find out more.
STARS ON STAGE: Selected Shorts started in New York at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side in 1985, with actors reading classic and new short fiction before a live audience.
Actors who have taken part include Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Anjelica Huston, Cynthia Nixon and Mary Stuart Masterson.
It has proved so popular that the live show is recorded and broadcast as a one-hour radio programme, distributed through Public Radio International.
Podcasts – downloaded by more than 300,000 people each week – are also available, along with a series of downloads for sale of different collections of the stories read.
The show begins and ends with the piano and cello duet Come to the Meadow by Roger Kellaway.