Exciting news: Reading through submissions for our LitCrawl show this fall, we received so many amazing pieces through the transom that we have more than enough to feature in San Francisco as well as for our next show. Our challenge? Finding a space to showcase all of this great work. Today we’re going to go behind the scenes at Play On Words to illustrate to potential community partners why you should partner with us to make these shows a reality:
We do all our own marketing and we promote the hell out of everyone involved, from writers and actors to photographers, videographers, and venues themselves. Play On Words shows typically attract 70 patrons at a minimum–more than 140 at our last sold-out show. Our homegrown marketing is the result of partnering with people and organizations we truly believe in, and promoting their work alongside our own. We will never stop singing the praises of our beloved Blackbird Tavern (RIP), Cafe Stritch, the San Jose Downtown Association, Anne & Mark’s Art Party, San Jose’s Flash Fiction Forum, Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre, City Lights Theatre and the San Jose Museum of Art. We’re always looking for opportunities to promote our downtown and Bay Area partners.
We don’t need much. Our performances are stripped down–no major production beyond having a few actors on stage. The only requirements to host a show are ample seating, a stage or elevated area to perform, and amplification. We provide a photographer and videographer and are happy to share assets following a show. Most shows are about 90-120 minutes in length with a brief intermission.
There’s a message behind our work. We pour our heart and soul into every show because we believe in the work we do—we see art as a civic responsibility and an opportunity to learn from our community. In 2017 we partnered with the Flash Fiction Forum and a few community members to create Activate, a chapbook created in response to the 2016 election. We are currently planning a show that could elevate the voices of people stuck in immigration detention. We see art as an avenue to change, and we want to partner with organizations who share these values. Our mission to elevate, promote and perform the work of unknown and established voices is behind everything we do.
And finally: we are mobile, pop-up and adaptable. Play On Words exists thanks to the network of tremendous writers, artists, community partners and patrons who have made each show possible. Because we have no brick and mortar theatre, we can bring a fully-imagined, 100 percent-planned show to any venue that can support performing artists.
Interested in partnering with us on our next show? Email Julia and Melinda (because it’s just the two of us!) at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get the conversation started. Let us fill your house.
Over the last six years, we’ve noticed a trend in two different types of writers: Those eager and excited to send their best work into the world, and those who often plan to submit but claim their work is never “perfect” enough for our performers to interpret. To them we say, there’s a difference between your work being perfect and your work being ready. It can feel like a fine line, because we certainly aren’t interested in reading first (or even second) drafts—we want work that is polished, thoughtful, provocative, surprising, and full of pizazz. But we also want our community to create and produce, get feedback on works in progress and share stories that they think deserve to be told. As we gear up to review submissions for our LitCrawl show this month, we’re offering five reasons you (or the writers in your life) should submit to us:
A professional performer will interpret your work, which means you get to sit back and enjoy the show. No more stage jitters for you!
You will hear your work in a new way. Without your words printed in front of you, you’ll notice innate patterns in your writing that are hard to notice on the page. Believe it or not, you will discover new ideas listening your words being read back to you.
Your work will be presented in conversation with the stories, poems, plays and essays of other writers. When we accept work, we reflect not only on the strength of individual pieces, but how they should be presented as a whole. We spend a lot of time thinking through how the order of pieces can contribute to a greater narrative, and when you get a chance to hear your work presented alongside others, you’ll find that you are in great company.
You will meet new friends and potential collaborators. A number of our contributors have teamed up on joint projects or connected for future collaborations. What better way to meet fellow artists?
You will be joining a very special tribe. Since 2013, we have performed the work of 60 artists—some more than once. Part of our mission at Play On Words is to promote the work of people we believe in, artists who shape our perspectives, and voices who need some time in the spotlight. We always like learning news of previous contributors and make every effort to promote news of books, publications, shows, collaborations, etc., whenever possible.
We produce shows because we believe that your work is important. We believe that for every great poem, surprising story, or funny one-act we’ve produced, there are just as many amazing pieces yet to be discovered. We hope that you will consider trusting us with your work and that you’ll help us spread our call for submissions.
Email your submission of original fiction, nonfiction, theatre or poetry (>1500 words), along with a 20-word bio and a headshot, by June 18 to be considered for our LitCrawl show.
Five years ago, we had the pleasure of performing in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley as part of LitCrawl, an evening of events hosted by LitQuake, a weeklong literary festival. Today we’re thrilled to share that we will once again participate in the SF LitCrawl, this time at the amazing Stage Werx theatre at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 19.
We Need Your Words!
We’re looking for fresh, smart, funny, provocative, absurd, thoughtful, goofy, surprising work to perform at this year’s show. We will be curating about 45 minutes of content, which means we’re especially interested in flash pieces, poetry, ten-minute plays—anything that can be performed aloud with gusto. We are looking for:
Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, theatre, work in translation accepted under 1500 words.
On February 24, we were thrilled to perform work by Play On Words’ youngest contributor, eighth grader Michelle Qiao. The multitalented Ronald Feichtmeir closed out our New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art with his performance of “The City Across the River”:
Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos, as well as all of the amazing writers, performers, artists and friends who helped make this show happen. We hope to host more POW shows in the months to come, so stay tuned to learn how you can participate!
Have you ever had dinner with your late grandparent? How about a drink with your long-dead grandmother? We were taken by Arcadia Conrad’s “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel,” which actor Tonya Duncan knocked out of the park at our Feb. 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art:
Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for being our trusty photographer. We hope to have another show this summer or fall–contact us if you’re interested in participating!
Few things can fully capture the absurdity and sheer love of early parenthood. In case you missed our February 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art, take a minute to watch the fabulous Ivette Deltoro perform “Postpartum Dream Sequence” by Rebecca Kling:
Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos.
We are currently seeking venues for our next show. If you’re interested in partnering with Play On Words, please contact us at email@example.com.
Sometimes the sacrifices of seeking a better life feel like a catch-22. Just ask “Norma,” the protagonist of Michelle Suzann Myers’ piece, who gives up everything for a better life in California. We were treated to a special performance by Nita Duarte Lambert on February 24 at the San Jose Museum of Art:
Muchísimas gracias to the lovely Nita for this moving reading, to Michelle for sharing her work for us, to Ryan Alpers for filming and to Branden Frederick for taking photos.
Despite what our media outlets may tell us, the immigrant experience in the United States is varied, unique and specific to the individual’s journey. In a moving essay, Mairead Brodie explores just what it means to “go back” where one comes from, tracing her own family’s journey from Ireland to New York and back, from the perspective of an expatriate living in Silicon Valley today. Last month we were treated to a special performance of this lovely essay by the one and only Arcadia Conrad at the San Jose Museum of Art:
This was one of those performance that had the audience murmuring in the minutes after Arcadia left the stage. Many thanks to Mairead and Arcadia for bringing us this story, and to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos.
How many parents must learn to read between the lines–or gauge the distance between postcards? Last February our pal Keenan Flagg performed Tony Press’ wonderful “Postcards from the Underground” at the San Jose Museum of Art. Thanks to Ryan Alpers for capturing this on film:
Thanks, as always, to our writers for loaning us their words, and to our actors for making their stories come to life. Photography by Branden Frederick.