Arcadia Conrad reads work by Tania Martin

Rites of passage can occur at any age. Just ask the narrator of Tania Martin‘s “Rites of Passage,” who is learning to ride a motorcycle alongside a gang of young men. Here is the amazing Arcadia Conrad performing Tania’s story on April 11th at Cafe Stritch:

Big thanks to Arcadia to loaning us her voice, and to Tania, co-founder of San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum  for sharing this wonderful story with us. Fans of FFF should consider submitting for their next season, starting this fall.

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Laurel Brittan reads Allison Landa

What does it feel like to shave your face–on a train? Watch as the inimitable Laurel Brittan performs an excerpt of Allison Landa‘s YA novel, Bearded Lady:

Many thanks to Laurel for joining us at Cafe Stritch in April to perform Allison’s work., and to Ryan Alpers for capturing the video.

Michael Weiland reads Michelle Myers

Given the current political climate, today seems like a good day to share Michael Weiland’s dynamite performance of “Pence” by Michelle Myers:

Big thanks to Michael for loaning us his voice on April 11 at our New Horizons show at Cafe Stritch. You can catch him in Los Altos Stage Company’s “Pippin” through June 24.

And while we’re at it, now is a good time to remind folks of all political persuasions to consider donating to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), an organization that is helping families being forcibly separated at the U.S./Mexico border. There is nothing humane about taking children from their families, regardless of nationality.

Stay tuned for more footage from our April show!

Ivette Deltoro reads “Dear español” by Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

The last few months we at Play On Words have been busy behind the scenes, getting ready for some amazing new shows we will be producing later this year. Busy–but not too busy to continue uploading content from our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch! Over the next few weeks you’ll get a chance to enjoy performances by our stellar cast, as recorded by POW social media manager Ryan Alpers.

Today we’re thrilled to share Ivette Deltoro’s performance of “Dear espanol,” a beautiful poem by SJSU alumna, the Texan poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff:

We’re grateful to the amazing writers, performers and volunteers who make our shows happen. Stay tuned for more videos–and for news of our next big project, coming to a theater near you in late August!

 

Arcadia Conrad reads “The Boy in the Van”

What happens when a young American girl in the Middle East encounters a friendly boy looking for a friend? One of two things happen, according to Marilyn Horn‘s story “The Boy in the Van.” The fabulous Arcadia Conrad performed this great piece on April 11 at our New Horizons show at Cafe Stritch:

Many thanks to Arcadia for loaning us her voice–and to Marilyn for sharing her story.

The next Play On Words show on the books is at Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre on August 29, though we are searching for a venue for a summer show before then. If you’re interested in participating in upcoming shows, shoot us an email at playonwordssj@gmail.com.

Melinda Marks reads “Teacher of the Year”

Our April 11 show, New Horizons, featured some of the best Bay Area talent we’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years–returning friends and new voices. Starting this week, we will be rolling out footage from the live show at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

In case you missed it: Watch the inimitable Melinda Marks perform “Teacher of the Year” by Arcadia Conrad:

This dynamite piece kicked off our New Horizons show. Thank you to the many actors, writers, photographers, videographers and friends who helped make this show happen.

Stay tuned to watch other clips from the April show on our blog. Also: Melinda will be performing at 2 pm this Sunday, April 29, at City Lights Theatre’s Lights Up festival. Tickets are available here.

Want to see us at Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre? We’re busy preparing for a special POW event this August. And in the meantime, don’t hesitate to send us your work for consideration in future events at playonwordssj@gmail.com

Tania Martin’s “Rites of Passage”

Tania Martin

Just what is a rite of passage–and what does it represent? The lovely Arcadia Conrad performed Tania Martin’s short piece, “Rites of Passage,” last week at Play On Words: New Horizons. We have previously performed Tania’s “Suck it Up” and “The Pink Suitcase”, and were thrilled to read more work by her.

Tania Martin
Tania Martin

 Tania writes fiction in San Jose. When she’s not teaching art to middle school students, or working on her first novel, she enjoys cycling around the Bay Area on her Bianchi road bike. She is co-founder of Flash Fiction Forum, a literary reading series focusing on short works since 2013, and she is an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. She earned a BS in geology from UC Davis and loves hiking in the Sierra Nevadas. Her work has appeared in Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Flash Flood’s online anthology, and in the collection, (After) Life, Poems and Stories of the Dead, Purple Passion Press (2015).

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
I love the way Play On Words combines the imaginings of both writer and actor to bring a new element to the work. And as a writer, it’s interesting to see my words interpreted by someone else. It’s like I have baked a delicious cake, and then handed it off to a talented cake decorator.

Which writers or performers inspire you?
I recently listened to the audio book, Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, and loved it so much I bought the hardcopy and read the book too. I’m a fan of Louise Erdrich, Annie Proulx, Denis Johnson, and Zadie Smith to name a few; the poetry of Seamus Heaney and Elizabeth Bishop; and re-reading the classics: especially Tolstoy, Austin, and the Bronte sisters. I have wonderful memories of my dad reading The Hobbit to me when I young.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
My parents always left lots of books around the house, and didn’t notice me reading the Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby when I was 12, and for awhile I was terrified of being possessed by evil spirits. But now I’m fascinated by superstition and mythology, and often write superstitious characters into my stories.

Couldn’t join us last week? Stay tuned for video from the show in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out Branden Frederick’s photos from our show on our Facebook page. 

Marilyn Horn’s “Boy in the Van”

 

We love stories with a strong voice. That’s why we were drawn to Marilyn Horn’s “The Boy in the Van,” which follows a young narrator as she fails to befriend a boy Tehran. The lovely Arcadia Conrad performed this piece on April 11 at our Play On Words: New Horizons show.

marilyn
Marilyn Horn

Marilyn Horn is a technical editor in Silicon Valley. Her short stories have appeared in publications such as Blotterature, Marathon Review and Waccamaw, and her collection Beyond the Fence was published in 2016 by Thinking Ink Press. 

 

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I’ve had other stories (“Snake,” “April in Paris,” and “Neighbor”) performed by Play on Words. There’s nothing quite like hearing your words being interpreted by those fantastic POW players.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Lately I’ve been inspired by Donna Tartt and Kobayashi Issa. That may change.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? You need to check that out if you haven’t already.

Stay tuned to watch footage from our April 11 show and discover ways to participate in future events.

Valerie Fioravanti’s “Glove”

About last night:

We filled Cafe Stritch with artists, writers, performers, volunteers, and friends, old and new. It feels so good to see our community expanding–blossoming in ways we never expected. In the coming weeks and months we’ll be sharing content from Play On Words: New Horizons, and until then, we’d like to feature a few more of the writers whose work we shared onstage last night.

Play On Words exists in part because of something Valerie Fioravanti said to Julia Halprin Jackson way back in 2013. Valerie is the artistic genius behind Sacramento Stories on Stage, an organization which produces short fiction in the heart of our capital city. Julia had driven 100 miles to see work by the writer Alex Russell performed in Sacramento, and remarked that she wished that there was a Stories on Stage in her own neighborhood. Valerie looked at her and said,”You could start one. That’s what I did.”

fioravanti
Valerie Fioravanti

Five years later, we were delighted to work with Valerie once again. Valerie is the author of the linked story collection Garbage Night at the Opera. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in many literary journals, including North American Review, Cimarron Review, and LUMINA. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize eight times. Her story Garbage Night at the Opera received special mention in the anthology. A former Fulbright Fellow in creative writing to Italy, she has won the Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award. Valerie had two stories recently published in North American Review. She wrote about social bubbles and her second collection on their blog.

 

We first performed Valerie’s work in 2015, and were thrilled to bring her new piece, “Toilet Paper Glove,” to light last night at Cafe Stritch. We’ll share footage from this in the next several weeks. Until then, Valerie was kind enough to answer some questions for us.

 

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Have to check on my literary children every once in a while 😉.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I’m blown away by Karen Bender. She’s a teacher, mom, editor, writer, and committed social activist. I suspect there are five of her. Or I’m a sloth. One of these statements must be true.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Tillie Olsen’s Tell Me A Riddle blew me away as a teenager. It was the first time I read work about working class characters from the female perspective, and those moments of literary recognition are so important for a young writer, even one who hasn’t yet articulated her desire to write.

Thank you to all of the writers, performers, artists and volunteers who joined us last night. Stay tuned to access footage from last night’s show and learn how to participate in upcoming events.