Isaiah Sheffer is a man of many talents. Dallas audiences got a chance to see one of them on February 28, 2005 at the Dallas Museum of Art when Sheffer hosted "Arts and Letters Live." He was joined by Thomas Gibson in readings from three works of literature as part of the Texas Bound Series featuring the works of authors with Texas connections. Gibson is most familiar as the character of Greg, Jenna Elfman's TV husband, on the sitcom, "Dharma and Greg." He also played a doctor for several seasons on "Chicago Hope."
Sheffer is co-founder and Artistic Director of Symphony Space, an 800-seat performing arts center now in its 27th season on the Upper West Side of New York City. It is a non-profit arts organization which offers literature, dance, music, film, and educational programs.

If you are a regular listener to NPR you've probably heard Sheffer on "Selected Shorts," a literary program featuring top American actors doing live readings, with Sheffer as on-air host. He is also a playwright and lyricist. Some of his better known works are the play, The Rise of David Levinsky, based on the eponymous novel by Abraham Cahan. It was produced off-Broadway in 1986 at the John Houseman Theater and also at the George Street Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was published by Samuel French, Inc.
Sheffer's musical play, Yiddle With a Fiddle, opened at Manhattan's Town Hall in October 1990 and also played the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles, as well as many other theaters in the U.S. and Canada. A More Perfect Union, his modern-day baroque opera-ballet about the making of the Constitution, was produced by the Center for Contemporary Opera and premiered at Symphony Space in May, 2004.
At the DMA program, Gibson read "The Woman at the Store," an alleged thriller by Katherine Mansfield; Barbara Barrie, originally scheduled to read "It Had Wings" by Allan Gurganis, was replaced by a local reader when Barrie had to cancel; Sheffer read "Swept Away," billed as a comic love story, set in the Hebrides Islands, by T. Coraghessan Boyle.
Sheffer said: "Our short-story radio audiences in Austin (where Sheffer and Gibson performed immediately prior to their Dallas engagement) are very hip and write great letters. Our live Texas audiences are great to play to, because they listen closely and get all the nuances. That's why each year I look forward to the Texas tour!"

Key Subjects: 
Arts and Letters Live; Isaiah Sheffer, Thomas Gibson, Barbara Barrie
Rita Faye Smtih
Author's Note: The readings were all excellent, but I can't imagine where they dug up their selections, all of which were quite boring. As to nuances, I just found the stories totally unimpressive and without any entertainment value apart from their readers.
February 2005