WordTheatre captures hearts and ears in Chapman University debut

woman talking at microphone

Lesley Nicol, “Mrs. Patmore” of Downton Abbey, performs an animated reading of Jill McCorkle’s short story, “Intervention.”


Stories of love lost and found and couples making peace with their imperfect lives filled the Wallace All Faiths Chapel of the Fish Interfaith Center Monday evening, Sept. 16, as the reading series WordTheatre debuted to a standing-room only audience.

“Sit back and enjoy this. This is the oldest form of theatre in the world when the town crier went from town to town and just told a story. You get to be six years old for the rest of the evening,” said Cedering Fox, the creator and director of WordTheatre.

WordTheatre brings to life the finest contemporary short fiction by putting it into the hands of top actors for public readings. Monday’s event featured
 Downton Abbey
star Lesley Nicol (
Mrs. Patmore
) Cassidy Freeman (
Longmire, Smallville
) and Chapman theatre major Desirae Whalen reading selected short stories by North Carolina-based writer
Jill McCorkle
. McCorkle was also present and to read and sign books.

In his opening remarks, President Doti welcomed WordTheatre to campus and praised it for embodying the kind of intellectual vitality the university supports.

“To have the introduction of WordTheatre here in Orange County is so exciting because when you think about a university and the learning that can be made, it’s all about attracting the best and brightest minds, faculty and students. And in that interaction, there’s a certain excitement and dynamism. And I think that’s what’s going to happen this evening,” Doti said.

The Chapman and WordTheatre partnership was forged by short story master and Chapman University Professor
Richard Bausch
, whose work has been featured in WordTheatre. Upcoming WordTheatre events at Chapman include:

  • October 14 (ticketed event):
    • David Means – Winner of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, Means is a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner. Means’ stories have made several appearances in The New Yorker and the O. Henry Prize collections, and have been included in The Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Mystery Stories and numerous anthologies.
  • November 4 (ticketed event):
    • Percival Everett has penned 25 works of fiction, including Erasure, for which he won a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. He is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Award for Fiction, New American Writing Award and The Believer Book Award, among several others. His stories have appeared in The Pushcart Prize Anthologies and Best American Short Stories.
    • Danzy Senna is the author of the nationally bestselling novel Caucasia. Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award, it was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year and has been translated into eight languages. She is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award.

The Oct. 14 and Nov. 4 performances are free for students with ID, $18 for the general public.  Tickets for the shows will be available at
. Check for cast updates at
; casting is subject to change.

Dawn Bonker

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