Fuck Yea, Kansas, Writes Becky Kling

Sometimes courage reveals itself on long trips–or at least it does for the narrator in Becky Kling‘s “The Road Trip.” From ringing in the New Year with her mom in a Vegas nightclub to screaming “FUCK YEA, KANSAS!” on the open road, she discovers the power of reinvention as she moves cross country, leaving an ex behind. We can’t wait to perform this piece at Play On Words: Live in San Francisco on October 19.

Becky is a lecturer in English and the Humanities at San Jose State University. When she is not teaching, she loves to write, hike, do yoga, cook, and hang out with her family. She answered a few questions for us in advance of the show.

becky kling

Becky Kling

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? 

I participated in Play on Words’ “New Terrains” show last February, and I loved having my piece interpreted by a performer. The performer read the piece so well, and it helped me to consider it from a new perspective. I also loved hearing the wide range of talent showcased through Play on Words, and I am excited to be part of such a rich literary community.

Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Toni Morrison, Ada Limón, David Whyte, Mary Oliver, David Sedaris, Junot Diaz, Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Brontë, and so many more!

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you. 

I got to see David Sedaris perform in Santa Cruz. I love his complete unabashed joy in being himself, both in his writing and on the stage. I think of writing as a window to the soul, and sharing that with the world is exhilarating, but it can also be terrifying! His comfort in his own skin is inspiring and contagious.

Want to see us perform “The Road Trip?” RSVP for our Oct. 19 show at Stage Werx Theatre.

T.A. Edwards and the Art of Return

What does it mean to survive one’s “return of Saturn?” To what extent can we predict the shape of our lives? For scientist T.A. Edwards, her entire world shifted in one monumental year, following her father’s death. We are honored to perform her moving essay, “Return of Saturn,” on October 19 at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre as part of the 2019 LitCrawl.

A former theatre kid and current professional treehugger, T.A. lives and writes in San Francisco. She answered a few questions for us.

Tiffany Edwards headshot
T.A. Edwards

 

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words? 

I love the diversity of voices POW brings onstage, and it’s really special to see how each actor interprets the words on the page.

Which writers or performers inspire you? 

Terry Pratchett, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tom Stoppard, Dorothy Sayers, Armistead Maupin.  

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you. 

Neither a book or a performance, but the first time I read Angels in America. It was the first time a play felt so vivid I felt like I was watching it in the room with the characters as I read.

Want to see her work performed live? RSVP for Play On Words: Live in San Francisco on Oct. 19.

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.

litcrawl2
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.

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.

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.

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.

Tonya Duncan reads Laura Domingo Short’s “The Start”

How many fresh starts, false starts, or new beginnings can we embrace in our lives? Today we’re delighted to share Tonya Duncan’s animated performance of “The Start” by Laura Domingo Short, read live at our February 24 show at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Wouldn’t it be great if Tonya could narrate all our major life transitions? Thanks, as always, to our amazing cast and writers! Props to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos.

Christina Shon reads “Bright Hope”

At Play On Words, part of our calling card is finding the right actor to perform someone else’s work. This allows the writer to hear an interpretation of his or her work and gain insight into how the audience reacts. With Christina Shon’s beautiful and personal essay, “Bright Hope,” however, we knew there was only one person to do the piece justice: herself.

Not only did she slay the performance, she arrived in a gorgeous Korean dress called a hanbok, adding depth and meaning to every word. Thanks to Ryan Alpers for capturing this on film and to Branden Frederick for taking photos.

Thank you, Christina, for this heartfelt and moving performance. We’ve enjoyed working with you over the years (we first read her story “Closure” in 2015–and you can watch Laurel Brittan’s performance of her 2018 piece, “Bleeding Heart”), and are sorry to see you move to Colorado! We hope to follow along in your literary career as you continue sharing stories with the world.

P.S. We are currently seeking a venue for our next show. If you’re interested in partnering with us, please contact us to learn more!

Watch #NewTerrains with Witty Bantr

Well, we did it, friends: We filled the San Jose Museum of Art’s Wendel Gallery with beautiful stories, wonderful performances and even better people. Thank you to all the artists, writers, performers, friends, family and community members who joined us Sunday for an amazing show.

Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be rolling out photos and videos of each individual performance, but until then, #powsj contributor Anniqua Rana of the Witty Bantr podcast has graciously shared her recording of the entire show, which opens with Ronald Feichtmeir’s reading of her piece, “The Shrine of Sain Makhianwala.” In case you missed it, watch the whole show here:

Many thanks to Anniqua and her team for sharing this, and stay tuned for more show recaps in the coming months. Thank you all for exploring new terrains with us.