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.