Call for Submissions: Activist Chapbook

Attention poets, playwrights, and other creative writers!

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Community activists from Play on Words and Flash Fiction Forum are producing a chapbook and want your fiction, poetry, works of theater and creative nonfiction work about activism.

Specifically, we’re interested in the complexities of activism (humorous, tragic, inspiring, or all three), situations that call for activism, pitfalls and rewards of activism, and above all, the personal, unexpected, and inexplicable. We’re interested in stories that move but don’t preach, and shed light on communities or causes that may not make it to the news every day. Help us prove that our words matter–perhaps now more than ever.

In addition to publishing a chapbook in collaboration with Flash Fiction Forum, Play On Words will select a number of the accepted pieces for a corresponding performance in early 2018.

GUIDELINES FOR SUBMISSION:

  • Deadline for submission is August 31, 2017.
  • Please limit submissions to 500 words.
  • Email submissions to activistchapbook@gmail.com

ATTENTION ARTISTS:

  • We are also seeking black and white artwork that speaks to these themes. Submissions can be emailed to activistchapbook@gmail.com. 

 

Join Us Tonight in Person…Or On YouTube

The rain might be coming, San Jose, but you know what else is? New Year Nouveau, our first show of 2016. We’re delighted to share our lineup for tonight’s performance, which starts at 7pm at Cafe Stritch:

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ACT ONE:
“Not the Madonna” – Allison Landa, read by Nita Lambert
“Suck it Up” – Tania Martin, read by Ivette Deltoro
“Indra’s Low Sodium-Oxide Streetlights” by Gary Singh, read by Ryan Alpers
“Land of the Thunder Dragon” – Sarah Lyn Rogers, read by Ivette Deltoro
“Van Tribe: Free Medical” – Rick Alpers, read by Brian Van Winkle

“Compassion: the Essence of Nursing” – Lita Kurth, read by Melinda Marks
“A Girl in Pink” – Christine Keating, read by Taylor Sanders, Alex Draa, Brian Van Winkle and Ryan Alpers

INTERMISSION
ACT TWO
“The Night Subway Crawl” – Pratibha Kelapure, read by Taylor Sanders
“Collectibles” – Betsy Miller, read by Melinda Marks
“Neighbor” – Marilyn Horn-Fahey, read by Jeremy Ryan
“The Golden Beauty of Carlina Johansen” – Keiko O’Leary, read by Alex Draa
“Van Tribe: Dudley & Donnie” – Rick Alpers, read by Brian Van Winkle
“End of Time” – Freya Seeburger (Cellista), read by Julia Halprin Jackson and Ryan Alpers
“Fabulous Water Sports” – Roy Proctor, read by Jeremy Ryan and Ryan Alpers
For our online fans and friends around the world, we invite you to tune in to our live-stream channel, provided courtesy of the fabulous online and print magazine South Bay Pulse, at 7pm Pacific Standard Time. Intrigued? It’s easy as one, two, click:
South Bay Pulse  was founded by journalists and graduate students at San Jose State University. Not only do they write great stories–they’ve mastered the art of live-streaming events such as CineQuest, and their YouTube channel hosts all kinds of great content, such as lectures from the Santa Cruz Music Festival, the SubZERO Festival, and interviews with Silicon Valley Artists. We’re delighted to be working with them on New Year Nouveau.
Bottom line: you’ve got no excuse to miss out on all the greatness that is headed your way. We can’t wait to share the work of our writers and artists. Grab a specialty cocktail at Cafe Stritch’s great bar, try out their spicy macaroni and cheese, drop us a few bucks at the door and prepare yourself for New Year Nouveau. See you there.

Christine Keating’s “Girl in Pink”

This January we are delighted to bring back Bay Area playwright Christine Keating, author of “Girl in Pink,” which we’ll be showcasing January 6 at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch. Play On Words fans might remember Christine’s biting play, “Misery Olympics,” from our Spring Fling show in 2014.

christine keating
Christine Keating. Photo by Grace Kinder

Christine is a playwright and director living in San Francisco. Her directing work includes productions with Those Women Productions and Santa Clara University, and readings with Magic Theatre, SF Playground, Custom Made Theatre, and TheatreWorks’ YPP. Writing credits include SF Olympians, Pint-Sized Plays, Theater Pub, Shotz, and Magic Theatre. She is the Director of New Works (The Forge) at Quantum Dragon Theatre. Look at her face and read things from her brain at www.KeatingMarie.com.

Upcoming projects:

The Forge at Quantum Dragon Theatre

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

The awesome mix of material, both in form and content. You never know what you’re going to get, it opens up my mind a little more every time I see the show!

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Can’t wait til next week to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

Roy Proctor’s Fabulous Sports

Sad that Christmas is over? Don’t worry; you’ve got one more event to add to your holiday calendar: our January 6 show at Cafe Stritch. This week we’ll be teasing you with previews of next Wednesday’s lineup, which will feature the work of a few of our favorite local writers, as well as a number of new voices from around the world. First up: playwright Roy Proctor. We can’t wait to produce his hilarious short play, “Fabulous Water Sports.”

Roy Proctor wrote his first play in 2012 after retiring from a 30-year career as the staff theater and art critic on the two daily newspapers in Richmond, Va. Since then, he has completed four full-length plays and 43 short plays in addition to audio adaptations of a number of those plays. They have been either fully produced or presented as staged readings in London, Cambridge, Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and Sheffield  in the United Kingdom as well as in New York City, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, New Orleans, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Huntington (W. Va.), Charleston (S.C.), South Bend (Ind.) and Edinboro (Pa.). Two have been published. Four are being produced for broadcast and/or podcast by radio theaters in New York City and San Francisco. Three of his many Chekhov short story adaptations, collectively titled “Russian Roulette: Shots for Chekhov!,” were part of England’s Bath Fringe Festival in 2015. Proctor grew up in Thomasville, N.C., and graduated in 1962 with a BA in English (Creative Writing) at the University of Iowa, where he wrote fiction under Philip Roth in the Iowa Writers Workshop. He lives in Richmond and is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Roy Proctor
Roy Proctor

Honors and Awards:

Richmond Folio Award (first annual award “for outstanding contribution to Richmond theatre community”), a crystal trophy presented by the merging Richmond Shakespeare and Henley Street Theatre at their first annual Bootleg Ball, Virginia Holocaust Museum, May 11, 2013.

Upcoming projects:

Right now, I’m especially proud of the podcast of one of my Chekhov story adaptations, “Settling the Score,” that was created by Amy’s Horse in Vermont. It stars Broadway luminary James Naughton (best-actor Tonys for “City of Angels” and “Chicago”) and veteran Broadway character actor John Christopher Jones, was released on Dec. 22, 2015, and can be heard free at www.amyshorse.com.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I saw your call for submissions on Facebook and said, “Why not?” I’ll jump on any vehicle that will carry me as a playwright. I don’t think a play is complete until it has connected with audiences. I’m delighted to be able to connect with folks in San Jose.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

As a theater critic, I reviewed all 37 plays in the Shakespeare canon, and I never tired of good productions of his incomparable work. As a Southerner, I also have a soft spot in my heart for Tennessee Williams.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Innumerable books and performances have shaped my vision, and I can’t cite some to the exclusion of the rest.

Can’t wait til next week to join the conversation? Sign up for our new email newsletter, RSVP for our January 6 show, tweet us, catch up on Instagram…and if you see us in San Jose we’ll usually accept a high five.

As a reminder, our January 6 show will be collecting $5 donations at the door. We also will be live-streaming this show with South Bay Pulse–stay tuned to learn more!

Leah Griesmann and the Art of Place

Leah Griesmann’s writing leaves an indelible impression–whether you are reading it on the page or watching it performed aloud. We were so excited to perform Leah’s short story, “Slave” at our Play On Words premiere last October, and were delighted when Leah submitted “The Unigirl,” for our Lit Crawl show on October 18. We’ll be reading an excerpt of this memorable piece, originally published in Pif Magazine, in Clarion Alley. Leah is an accomplished fiction writer whose work has taken her around the world. She graciously agreed to speak with us about her literary aesthetic and the experience of hearing her work performed aloud.

POW: What interests you most as a writer of fiction?

LG: I’m definitely interested in character-driven fiction. I like using fiction to explore human beings in all their complexity. I think what I’ve realized most as a writer, and as a person, is that human complexity is boundless. That capacity humans have to be complex, contradictory even, is what interests me, and often what creates interesting fiction. I’m also very interested in place. I’ve written a collection of linked stories set in Las Vegas, a number of stories set in San Francisco (“The Unigirl” is one), and am currently working on a collection of stories set in cities around the world. “The Slave,” which was performed at Play on Words’ inaugural performance, is from this latest collection. “The Unigirl,” however, is a real San Francisco story, so I’m happy to see it performed in San Francisco.

POW: In your experience, what are the ways that a physical environment can play a role in character and story development? 

Las VegasLG: Physical environment is huge. It’s not just the physical environment though, it’s also the social, cultural, and economic environment that has such a big impact on characters. As one example, I set a collection of linked stories in Las Vegas when the city was going through a major growth boom. Not only was the city developing, and seeing an influx of new residents, the major industry was also transitioning from an old business model to near-total corporatization.  Many factors unique to Las Vegas—the harsh physical environment of the desert, the unique economic model of gambling with its boom or bust mentality, the ersatz cultural environment of faux Eiffel Towers and Venetian gondolas, and then the rapid shift away from old business models towards corporatization have a major impact on the characters. The fact that the characters, like humans everywhere, continue to search for love and community in a place where all the elements seem to conspire against them, creates some interesting settings (a Karaoke bar at a casino about to be bombed, a low income apartment complex called the Desert Rose) as well as some interesting tension. And in fiction, of course, the more tension, the better. So place has a huge impact on the characters, and on their resulting stories.

POW: What is the experience of seeing your fiction performed?

LG: It’s really wonderful for a few reasons. To begin with, I’m a writer, not an actor, and I’m not at all in my element reading my work on a stage. I think actors have those performance chops which can really bring something to a piece that most writers can’t. It’s also very fulfilling on a personal level. As a writer, you get used to sending your work out into a void. You hear things occasionally, that such and such person “liked” your story, or comments on something fairly specific, but you never have that feeling that I imagine a musician has, for example, of instantaneous reaction to a piece. With a performance you get to see first of all, how the performer has understood the story, based on the choices they are making in reading the piece. Secondly you get the audience’s reaction—whether they are quiet or laughing, or showing interest at certain key moments. That’s very gratifying because in the life of the writer, it’s really rare.

POW: Give us a little backdrop on “The Unigirl,” the story that we’re performing at Litcrawl. 

LG: First of all, it’s really exciting that “The Unigirl” is being performed not only in San Francisco, not only in the Mission, but in Clarion Alley, which is one of the alleys that inspired that particular story. It’s very much a San Francisco story in that much of the action is happening on the street, and nearly every encounter the main character has is with a complete stranger. I think that’s a quality unique to pedestrian urban centers–San Francisco especially–because it’s so dense, and because the weather is mostly pleasant—that San Franciscans end up having numerous interactions with all types of people. In addition to being a story very much about a place, it’s also about character. Without giving too much away, a woman gets involved in a line of business many would consider to be extreme, but has a range of experiences beyond just the stereotypes that exist. Her experiences provoke her to question herself, and lead to an insight arrived at in a most unpredictable way.

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Leah Griesmann‘s stories have recently appeared in Union Station, The Cortland Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The Weekly Rumpus, and PEN Center USA’s The Rattling Wall. A 2010-2011 Steinbeck Fellow in Fiction, she is the recipient of a 2013 DAAD grant in fiction and a 2014 MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She is currently at work on a collection of stories.

Want to read more of her work? Check out “Desert Rats” on Union Station Mag and “Packing” at The Boiler Journal.  Be sure to join us on October 18 from 6-7 in the San Francisco’s Clarion Alley to see her story performed! RSVP here or follow us on Twitter (@PlayOnWords_SJ)and Instagram (@playonwordsanjose) to get show updates. 

 

Coming soon, to Clarion Alley…

Play On Words is thrilled to represent South Bay at the 2014 LitCrawl in San Francisco on October 18! This show celebrates our one-year-anniversary as a collaborative reading series–and as such, we’ve curated an exciting show that showcases some of our most frequent contributors:

Leah GriesmannLeah Griesmann‘s stories have recently appeared in Union Station, The Cortland Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The Weekly Rumpus, and PEN Center USA’s The Rattling Wall. A 2010-2011 Steinbeck Fellow in Fiction, she is the recipient of a 2013 DAAD grant in fiction and a 2014 MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She is currently at work on a collection of stories.

Jimmy Allan read Leah’s story “Slave” at our October 2013 premiere. We will be performing an excerpt of her story “The Unigirl” in San Francisco.

Kirstin Chen is the author of Soy SaKirstin Chenuce for Beginners. A former Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing, she holds an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Stanford University. She has received awards from the Sewanee and Napa Valley writers’ conferences. Her short stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Hobart, Pank and others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best New American Voices. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently lives in San Francisco, where she’s at work on her second novel, set on a tiny island off the coast of southern China in 1958.

Melinda Marks performed an excerpt of Soy Sauce for Beginners at our February 2014 show. (You can watch it here!) We will be performing her short story “Boys on the Roof” in October.

Brian Van WinkleBrian Van Winkle graduated from Southern Oregon University with a B.S. in Theatre Arts. He is a member of the Pacifica Table Readers. We performed Brian’s play “The Way I Picture it in My Head Is…” in February, and it was such a big hit that we are bringing it with us to San Francisco. He is a regular POW performer.

Nicole Hughes

Nicole Hughes completed an MFA in fiction writing from San Jose State University. Her story “Impasto Portrait” was published in Liebamour. As an MFA student, she was awarded the 2011 Ann Lillis Creative Writing Scholarship and the 2009 and 2011 James Phelan Literary Award. Nicole is one of POW’s three co-founders and the current events manager at Kepler’s Books. We’re thrilled to see her perform “Illimitable Space” in October.

Melinda MarksMelinda Marks has performed in the Bay Area for over 20 years, and has more recently begun trying her hand as a writer of short plays and as a director. She holds a BA from UCSC in Theater with an emphasis in dramaturgy, and an MA from San Jose State in Theater Studies. She will be performing her own translation of Dante’s short poems in October. As POW’s casting director, she has performed in every show. Check out our YouTube page to see a sampling of Melinda’s performances.

Julia Halprin JacksonJulia Halprin Jackson has an MA in fiction from UC Davis. She has received scholarships to the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshops and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Her work has appeared in West Branch Wired, California Northern, Fourteen Hills, Flatmancrooked, Sacramento News & Review, Fictionade, Fiction365, Catalyst and Spectrum. She will be reading a selection of 100-word-stories at our LitCrawl event–and as a POW co-founder, she is thrilled to bring South Bay writers to San Francisco.

Ryan Alpers

Ryan Alpers teaches English and journalism in San Jose. 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. A regular POW performer and contributor, he will be reading a few pieces for the October show.

Jeremy RyanJeremy Ryan is a POW actor who has performed as Chester “Cosmo” Collier in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play! at Broadway By The Bay. Other favorite roles include Biff Loman in Death Of A Salesman (Broadway West,) Dennis Shepard/Aaron McKinney in The Laramie Project (Foothill Theatre,) and Chevalier Danceny in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dragon Theatre.) Jeremy is a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory. You can watch his performance of Adam Magill’s “Only Customary” here. He will be performing at our October show.

So…what are you waiting for? Swing by the Mission District’s Clarion Alley on Saturday, October 18 at 6pm to check out our one-year-anniversary show!

Lit Crawl, Here We Come!

We’re thrilled to announce that Play On Words will be kicking off LitCrawl, an exciting evening of literary events in San Francisco’s Mission District on October 18. If you’ve never been, LitCrawl is our kind of pub crawl: 100 different literary readings, performances and organizations will be populating the galleries, restaurants and bars of the Mission over the course of a few hours. It is also the culmination of a week-long arts and culture festival in San Francisco–as if you needed another reason to visit.

We feel especially lucky because we’ll be reading in a really unique space–smack dab in the middle of Clarion Alley, an amazing walkway of murals linking Mission and Valencia Streets between 16th and 17th. Our show will be a special combination of best-of-Play-On-Words, featuring one of our most popular plays, new fiction from two of our recent contributors, and short readings by POW founders. Don’t worry; we’ll be rolling out the specifics as the big day draw nears.

Clarion Alley, SF
POW Reader and Contributor Ryan Alpers

We do also plan to host events more frequently in San Jose this year, which means we need more submissions! We read submissions on an ongoing basis, so if you have a short, funny sketch, a new poem, a thought-provoking story or a memoir excerpt that you think would be fun to perform aloud, please send it along as a Word attachment to playonwordssj@gmail.com.

 

We’re All “Sweet On You”

If you’ve never seen an insulin pump before, it looks a lot like an iPod. Our May show featured a short monologue by #POW cofounder Julia Halprin Jackson called “Sweet On You.” A draft of this piece was originally performed at UC Santa Barbara exactly 10 years ago. It seems fitting to have this piece performed by the stellar Melinda Marks a few weeks before Julia and her partner Ryan tie the knot. Curious? Here’s what you missed:

Thanks, Melinda, for this beautiful reading. Shot Bloks and Gatorade for all!

 

Up Close and Personal with Adam Magill’s “Only Customary”

We at Play On Words have developed a taste for the fast, funny and ridiculous sketch. Cue playwright Adam Magill. Last May we produced his piece, “Only Customary,” at the Blackbird. Jeremy Ryan and Brian Van Winkle stole the show; Nicole Hughes and Julia Halprin Jackson made a quick appearance as well. There’s no better way to start your Friday than a little pants-ing action. You’ll see what we mean:

Big thanks to Adam, Jeremy and Brian for their hilarious and well-timed work. We hope you adopt some new, eh, customs, this Friday.