Capturing America

As part of Radio 4's Capturing America series, Mark Lawson selects short pieces by five American authors.

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Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
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01David Mamet's Emotions, The Rehearsal Process, And The Play And The Scene *20100208

Playwright David Mamet has some typically terse advice for actors in his essays on Emotions, The Rehearsal Process, and The Play and the Scene.

Read Colin Stinton.

Playwright David Mamet has some typically terse advice for actors in his essay on Emotions.

02Our Man At Harvard20100209

By Norman Mailer.

Our hero recalls the spring of his sophomore year, which he whiled away at the offices of the Harvard undergraduates' journal, The Advocate.

Along the way he learns a lesson or two about office politics and deception.

Not all is as it seems as The Advocate hosts a party where the guests excitedly await the arrival of Somerset Maugham.

Read by Garrick Hagon.

Our hero recalls the spring of his sophomore year.

03Starving Again20100210

By Lorrie Moore.

Dennis's wife has left him and his cynical, whisky-slugging friend Mave is trying to help him pick up the pieces.

She tries to assure him that the fact that his wife is seeing a Milanese man is a good thing; that it will make his wife feel that she's scruffy and so she will eventually long for her unkempt husband again.

Mave thoroughly disapproves of the self-help books that Dennis is weeping into.

She has a much more practical approach to her own love life, dismissing Dennis's accusation that her lover is a womaniser with, 'So, I needed to be womanised.

I was losing my sheen!'

Read by Jennifer Lee Jellicorse.

Dennis's wife has left him.

04The Astronomer20100211

By John Updike.

Walter's religious revival is at its height, and he has a near obsession for Kierkegaard.

So he is not looking forward to the arrival of his dinner guest, the imposing and revered scientist and astronomer Bela.

However, it's not theological debate but after-dinner chit chat that peels away Bela's bravura, and Walter realises that perhaps his guest is not so invincible after all.

Read by Kerry Shale.

Walter is not looking forward to the arrival of his dinner guest.

05 LASTThe Diaries Of Tennessee Williams20100212

reveal a social butterfly whose gregariousness is tempered by self doubt.

Assignations with lovers, named only by their initials, pepper the extracts covering his burgeoning career as a writer in the 1930s, the post-golden age of A Streetcar Named Desire and the intimate and moving entries from the latter stages of his life.

Throughout, his wit and lightness of touch belie a more troubled soul.

Read by Paul Birchard.

The diaries of Tennessee Williams reveal a social butterfly.