Brian Van Winkle on the Creative Process

Brian Van Winkle’s ten minute play (which he also starred in), “The Way I Picture it In My Head Is,” was a big hit at our February show. Brian is a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon where he received a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts with a minor in Shakespeare Studies. He is also a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory and a member of the Pacifica Table Readers.

bvw
Brian Van Winkle

In addition to his play, Brian has performed at POW in Melinda Marks’ “Menage A Un” and Adam Magill’s one-act play “Malleus Maleficarum.” He agreed to share some thoughts with us on his writing and performance experience.

POW: What did it feel like to have your words performed aloud? Was this the first time you saw someone interpret your work? What did you learn about your own writing? 

BVW:  It has been such a privilege to have my work performed by Play on Words. Though this is not my first time having my work performed for an audience, the experience is always beneficial. There is no better way to improve one’s writing than to see how it is interpreted by other people. Seeing other people create something out what you have made allows you to take it in as a separate entity from yourself. You can see what in your piece works and what doesn’t based on how the audience reacts to it. There is little I can think of more thrilling and encouraging than when a desired reaction lands with a crowd just as you want it to–and if a certain idea is not coming through clear enough, it will become obvious by the way that it is portrayed. I am very grateful that there are outlets such as this so that new works can continually be developed and improved for aspiring artists.

POW: What was it like to perform a piece knowing that the writer was in the room? How did you prepare? How did this experience make you feel about your own writing/creating process? 

BVW_Menage
Brian (center) played an important role in “Menage a Un”

BVW:  It’s a pleasure to be able to give new writers a voice for their work. In an environment such as this, where we are able to interact directly with the authors, we are able to better prepare a piece in the way that it is intended to be performed. Being directly involved with the artists is a great way to help develop their work as well as gain skills to help hone one’s own abilities.

 

 

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Ryan Alpers: Writer, Reader, Man About Town

Ryan Alpers
Ryan Alpers

Ryan Alpers has become a Play On Words regular. His short story “Predecessors” was performed at POW’s October premiere by Adam Magill and Melinda Marks, and that same night Ryan performed two poems by Eric Sneathen. His interpretation of Gary Singh’s poem “Here” at our February show has generated quite the buzz as well. We sat down with Ryan to compare the experience of hearing his own work read aloud to that of performing another writer’s work.

POW: What did it feel like to have your words performed aloud? Was this the first time you saw someone interpret your work? What did you learn about your own writing?

RA: It was great hearing another interpretation of your work by actors. It gives you insight into your own prose and craft in a way feedback and group critique and friends and family and your dog/cat cannot. It is an honest look at your words through the eyes of another set of equally talented eyes. It’s also a great group of people. They’re nice and do this because they need to do it. San Jose needs it. You need it. I certainly needed it. My writing has only improved since.

POW: What was it like to perform a piece knowing that the writer was in the room? How did you prepare? How did this experience make you feel about your own writing/creating process?

RA: Conversely, performing someone else’s work with them in the room was another set of challenges. But with poetry, it is so fun to interpret because each work is so rich with meaning you can really play around with the meter and rhythm and cadence and intonation in ways you just really don’t do as much with lines of dialogue. So that’s fun. Playing with words is fun. But it also takes practice. We read through the pieces a week beforehand to get the sequencing and whatnot figured out. So in that reading we also discussed what worked delivery-wise in that first reading, and adjusted accordingly. That reading was good for me, because just talking about line delivery and blocking and actor stuff is just. Plain. Old. Fashioned. Fun.”

Ryan teaches high school English and runs the Lincoln High School newspaper, aptly called Lincoln Lion Tales. He has a B.A. in literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a teaching credential from San Jose State University. While studying at the College of Creative Studies, he was published in the CCS Literary Magazine “Spectrum” and awarded the CCS Brancart-Richardson Award for fiction.

Introducing Gary Singh

Our February show highlighted the work of noted journalist and Silicon Valley arts regular Gary Singh. Singh is an award-winning journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints, and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he has published hundreds of works as either a staff writer or freelancer, including travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, short fiction and poetry. For 450 straight weeks he’s also penned a creative newspaper column for Metro, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper, an offbeat glimpse into the frontiers of the human condition in Silicon Valley. He is a sucker for anything that fogs the opposites of native and exotic, luxury and the gutter, academe and the street.

Gary Singh
Gary Singh

This week we asked Singh what it felt like to hear his poem, “Here,” read aloud by Ryan Alpers at the Blackbird Tavern on February 13.

“Hearing and seeing my poem performed by someone else brought a new dimension to my creativity,” he said. “The actor brought inflections and emotions into the poem that I didn’t even know existed. The experience gave me some confidence that I didn’t know existed either. I would highly recommend anyone to submit their work for this series.”

In case you missed it, here’s Ryan’s performance of Singh’s poem:

Feeling inspired? There’s still time to submit for our May 22 show! We accept works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and theater under 2000 words. Submissions can be sent to playonwordssj@gmail.com.