A Grand Ol’ 40th for Pushcart

An impressive lineup of actors and actresses will read some of the best of the best curated from Pushcart’s four decades of anthologies

At 40 years old this year, it’s fair to say “Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses” has matured into a powerful voice in American literature. It’s also fair to say WordTheatre, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 that in its own words “gives voice to great writing” has gained momentum, with its growing list of film and television celebrities and acclaimed authors as partners.

A benefit on Saturday at Guild Hall in East Hampton Village titled Where Words Survive and Thrive will allow WordTheatre to support Pushcart’s efforts as well as kick off the celebration of Pushcart’s milestone. An impressive lineup of actors and actresses, including Amber Tamblyn, Carla Gugino, Ari Graynor, Sarah Wynter, Vincent Piazza, Zack Grenier, Ben Schwartz, and Christopher McDonald, will read some of the best of the best curated from Pushcart’s four decades of anthologies.

“It’s my biggest pleasure to do this. It’s the 40th anniversary, so I said let’s ensure this continues another 40 years,” said Cedering Fox, the event’s producer and a voiceover professional who has, for the past three years, lent her voice to the Oscars.

The Pushcart Prize holds special significance for Ms. Fox, whose mother, Siv Cedering, a poet and longtime Amagansett resident, twice was honored by Pushcart. Before her death, Ms. Cedering read at the first WordTheatre benefit at Guild Hall, held in 2007. Since then, Ms. Fox has returned every other year to Guild Hall to convene the talents of writers and actors in support of Pushcart.

“It’s my gift to my mother, and it keeps me connected to the community,” she said. Referring to the South Fork, she said, “I feel a real affinity for this part of the world. When you think about all the great writers who have come up through here and have been nurtured here, it’s just fitting.”

In addition to the man who started it all, Bill Henderson of Springs, Pushcart’s founding editors include Reynolds Price, Gordon Lish, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Bowles, Ralph Ellison, and more than 20 other heavy-hitting names in modern literature.

For her WordTheatre performances, which are held in venues from Los Angeles to London, Ms. Fox said she has discovered many fine writers from among Pushcart’s prize recipients. On Saturday, the writers whose work will be featured include A.M. Homes, the author of the best-selling memoir “The Mistress’s Daughter” and a winner of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, David Means, a prolific short-story writer who was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner, and Richard Bausch, a novelist whose book “The Last Good Time” was made into a feature-length film.

The lineup of performers is no less impressive. Ms. Gugino, an actress and model, has appeared in movies such as “Spy Kids” and “Watchmen.” Ms. Tamblyn has starred in films such as “Django Unchained” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” More recently, she founded the Write Now Poetry Society and published the book “Dark Sparkler,” which profiles famous women “who glimmered on screen” but fell to pieces in real life.

Ms. Graynor is an actress and producer who has starred in movies like “The Sitter,” “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” and “Mystic River.” Mr. Piazza is perhaps best known for his role as the Italian-American mobster Lucky Luciano in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” Mr. Grenier is a Tony Award nominee of “33 Variations” fame who has more recently been involved in the TV series “The Good Wife.” Ms. Wynter is known for her work on “The 6th Day,” “Lost Souls,” “24,” “American Odyssey,” and “Californication.”

“You laugh, you cry,” Ms. Fox said. “Everybody is a 6-year-old kid when they’re listening to a great short story read by a great actor.”

Tickets to a 6:30 p.m. V.I.P. reception with the actors and writers on Saturday cost $125 and include a signed hardcover copy of Pushcart’s 40th anthology. For the show, which starts at 8 p.m., general admission tickets range from $25 to $65.