5 Reasons You Should Submit to #POWSJ

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Our sold-out show at the San Jose Museum of Art, February 2019.

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:

  1. A professional performer will interpret your work, which means you get to sit back and enjoy the show. No more stage jitters for you!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.

LitCrawl Call for Submissions: Deadline June 18

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.

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Michael Weiland, Melinda Marks and Ryan Alpers performing at Play On Words: Your Words, Our Voices in October 2014. Photo by Michelle Anderson.

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.
  • Submit all work to playonwordssj@gmail.com as an attachment or Google doc.

In order for your work to be considered for LitCrawl, you must include the following with your submission:

  • A 20-word bio and head shot.
  • Contact information for day of the event.

Work must be submitted no later than Tuesday, June 18, at 5 p.m. This gives you two weeks to polish off your words and prepare to submit.

Ronald Feichtmeir reads Michelle Qiao’s “The City Across the River”

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!

Tonya Duncan reads “Dead at the Palm Court Hotel” by Arcadia Conrad

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!

Ivette Deltoro Reads Rebecca Kling’s “Postpartum Dream Sequence”

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 playonwordssj@gmail.com.

Nita Lambert reads “Norma” by Michelle Suzann Myers

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.

Arcadia Conrad reads Mairead Brodie’s “Back Where They Came From”

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.

Keenan Flagg reads Tony Press’ “Postcards from the Underground”

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.

Thomas Times reads Mike Karpa’s “Make a Muscle”

Sometimes it is the smallest, most intimate actions that make the biggest impressions. For the character in Mike Karpa’s “Make a Muscle,” his decision to lean into an EMT in his grandmother’s nursing home represented far more than just a casual flirtation. Watch the wonderful Thomas Times make his #powsj debut at our New Terrains show on February 24, reading this great story:

Major kudos to Thomas and Mike for making this story come to life. Thanks also to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos.