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.
This week marks five years since our first Play On Words show at San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern. With every season, we’ve tried something new–performed at festivals, partnered with Flash Fiction Forum on a chapbook, staged live readings of television shows. This fall, we’re delighted to partner with the San Jose Museum of Art on its upcoming “New Terrains: Migration and Mobility” cross-disciplinary exhibit. We’ve got our first 2019 date on the calendar–Sunday, February 24, from 3-5 pm–which means that we need you, faithful writers and artists, to share your work with us!
What Does New Terrains Mean to You?
For our February show, we are seeking work that responds to the theme of New Terrains: Migration and Mobility. What does that mean to you? Does new terrain denote geography, movement, space? Could it be a crossing of emotional territory? Or a literal reflection on what it means to move your body, your family, your city?
We’ve been invited to present at the museum’s November 15 partner kickoff, which will feature many of the organizations contributing to the New Terrains exhibit. Mosaic Silicon Valley will offer a number of special performances during the evening. The international creative collective known as RadioEE will roll up to the party with Autopiloto, a marathon radio transmission that will be broadcast while on-the-move in a semi-autonomous vehicle traversing the Bay Area, examining how emerging autopilot/AI technologies are transforming the world. RadioEE will be live streaming their interactions with partner organizations and visitors while at SJMA, as part of their project commissioned by the Lucas Artist Residency Program at Montalvo Art Center.
Play On Words will be reading a few show selections at the event. We’ll be there to promote our call for submissions and enjoy an evening of performance, artistry and excitement. We hope to see you there!
This year marks our fifth anniversary of producing original content in the Bay Area. Every year, we’ve been lucky enough to find great collaborators–our 50+ contributing writers, many of whom we’ve gotten to perform more than once; our 20+ amazing actors, working professionals who perform regularly in San Jose and beyond; and the community partners who have exposed us to new opportunities, venues, and artists. For our 2018-2019 season, we’re thrilled to announce that Play On Words is partnering with the San Jose Museum of Art as part of its “New Terrains: Mobility and Migration” exhibit.
Through “New Terrains”, South Bay arts organizations band together to present a series of cross-disciplinary exhibitions, programs and experiences that explore how bodies move through spaces–social, political, literal and figurative. Projects address timely topics such as transportation and urban planning, navigation and orientation, public protest, immigration and migration, and mobility in its many forms. With expanding partnerships, “New Terrains” will embrace multidisciplinary thinkers and cultural producers through a growing range of events. Collaboratively presented through spring of 2019 by organizations of all sizes and types–from museums and artist residencies to community centers and civic think tanks–events and programs will take place across the greater Silicon Valley.
We are thrilled to throw our artistic hat in the ring, and can’t wait to learn from the multitudes of creative partners involved in this exhibit. Play On Words plans to host at least one (and hopefully more) performance as part of this show, and we will be sharing a call for submissions on the theme New Terrains: Mobility and Migration in the coming months.
Until then, we encourage you to check out the amazing programming at the San Jose Museum of Art–and if you have a short work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or theater that responds to this theme at the ready, feel free to send it along for consideration at email@example.com.
Today we share our final video from our January 17 show at Cafe Stritch: the inimitable Arcadia Conrad reading two poems by award-winning writer, activist and educator April Halprin Wayland. It was important for us to close our Activists Unite show on hopeful note–to show that though some struggles for justice take generations to gain traction, the legacy of the fight endures.
Many thanks to the many artists, writers and activists who made our January 17 show possible. We are grateful to you for loaning us your words and your talent–and we hope you submit this week to our April 11 show!
Anyone interested in purchasing Activate, our new chapbook produced in partnership with Lita Kurth, Tania Martin, Maria Judnick and Peter Caravalho, may place an order here.
And finally, to all our fellow activists: We’re here to carry your sign.
When we were planning the lineup for our January 17 show, we staged our pieces in an intentional chronological order. The idea? To show how different generations of activists have grappled with some of the same big questions, year after year, campaign after campaign, president after president. Melinda Marks was proud to perform Cindy Stewart-Rinier’s “Under Trump, No Good Deed,” a poem particularly suited to today’s world:
Hard as it can be to grapple with the challenges of today’s world, we’re glad to promote artists whose work we feel offers a little respite, a little tiny dagger of truth, a gasp of hope in a changing environment. Cindy’s poem is included in our new chapbook, Activate, which you can order here.
We’re still looking for short stories, poems, and plays under 1500 words for our April 11 show. Got something you’re proud of? Send it along as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes nothing is funnier than repeating the words “Dick Cheney.” The amazing Michael Weiland proved that by reading Ken Weisner’s comic poem, “Ghazal,” at our Activists Unite show at Cafe Stritch. Couldn’t make it? Check out Michael’s performance below:
Ken recited some poems and read his own work last week at DeAnza’s Euphrat Museum during our chapbook launch party. Want to get your hands on our beautiful new book, designed by Peter Caravalho of Black Kites Press and produced in partnership with the Flash Fiction Forum? Fill out our order form to purchase your own copy!
We’re currently reading submissions for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch–and we need more work! Submit your poems, short stories, and works of theater to us at email@example.com. Please note we cap submissions at 1500 words.
Good news Playonwordsians, past, present and future: We’re currently accepting submissions for our April 11th show at Cafe Stritch. We need you!
We accept works of fiction, nonfiction, theater and poetry. While our aesthetic tends toward the funny, unusual, thought-provoking and absurd, more than anything we want to read work that surprises us and pops off the stage. We cap submissions at 1500 words, though there is some wiggle room with works of theater.
To submit, email an attachment of your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this opportunity to tell us a little bit about yourself and how you see this piece being performed.
Haven’t been to a show? Check out our YouTube channel and our podcast to learn more about the work we produce.
Good news, Playonwordsians: We are extending the deadline for the chapbook that we are producing in conjunction with the fabulous Flash Fiction Forum. You’ve got until October 15 to send 500 words of fiction, nonfiction, poetry or theatre to email@example.com.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a brief recap of recent headlines that might trigger a response:
Last week, Trump announced that he plans to rescind the DACA program, which will affect approximately 800,000 students and their families who are working and studying legally in the United States.
Hurricanes like Harvey and Irma displace thousands of families, many of whom may have been previously displaced by Katrina in 2005.
Charlottesville–August 12, 2017, and the rise of neo-Nazism.
Trump’s July announcement to ban transgender citizens from serving in the military.
There are lots of ways to resist and show solidarity with communities whose livelihoods and basic civil rights are at risk. We’re hoping to provide a platform for writers to speak up and speak out.