Connecticut College Hosts Four Actors Reading Four Short Stories

NEW LONDON — A four well-regarded actors will perform readings of four short stories by authors with roots in Germany, China, Nigeria and the Dominican Republic in a virtual performance hosted by Connecticut College next week.

The actors include Kate Burton of Grey’s Anatomy, Laura Gómez of Orange Is the New Black, Russell G. Jones of Tommy, and Jennifer Lim of Jade Dragon.

The program is organized in collaboration with Symphony Space, a New York-based performing arts group that curates “selected shorts” programs — short stories read live over public radio. 

Rob Richter, the director of arts programming at Connecticut College, said his goal was to bring in performances that are both novel and appeal to the greater community.  

“I really like to bring in different voices of different cultures,” He said. 

Dominican-American novelist Julia Alvarez’s “Liberty” recounts the story of a child forced to leave behind her beloved pet dog when her family flees from the Dominican Republic to the United States. 

“As Liberty and I sat there with the sun baking the tops of our heads, I had this sense that the world as I knew it was about to end,” writes Alvarez, who herself was forced to escape the Domican Republic at the age of 10, when her father was involved with trying to overthrow the dictator Rafael Trujillo. 

In Lesley Nneka Arimah’s Light,” a father in Nigeria has to raise his eleven-year-old daughter alone while her mother is studying abroad. As he tries to deal with the milestones of teenage girlhood — all while fielding her mother’s criticisms over video calls — he learns he can’t protect her from the world. 

“He does not yet wonder where she gets this, this streak of fire. He only knows that it keeps the wolves of the world at bay and he must never let it die out,” she writes. 

A Little Fable” takes the reader to the Kingdom of the Tongue-Tied, where people venerate language so much that they remain silent in both speech and print, and the Duchy of Freedom, where the people “celebrated freedom so much that they kept it locked up in an undisclosed location in the ruler’s own castle and never let anyone get near it.” 

“Reasonable people pointed out that the TongueTiedians had everything other countries had: Order and abuses, justice and corruption, in fact they had even more abuses and corruption than other places so why should they bother going back to speeches and blackprint?” writes German author Alfred Doblin. 

And in Laura Chow Reeve’s “1000-year-old Ghosts” a young woman learns from her grandmother, an immigrant from China, how to hide sorrows away in jars around the house. Watching her grandmother slowly fade away, she wrestles with the balance of wanting to forget one’s pain and the risk of losing history, culture and self along with it. 

“I no longer had difficulty forgetting; it came easily with or without a jar. Remembering was harder. It kept me awake at night,” writes Reeve. 

“Selected Shorts at Connecticut College: Stories Across Borders,” part of the college’s onStage Guest Artist Series, will be streamed on YouTube at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 11, and will be available for two weeks after for viewing.

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