If you’ve never seen an insulin pump before, it looks a lot like an iPod. Our May show featured a short monologue by #POW cofounder Julia Halprin Jackson called “Sweet On You.” A draft of this piece was originally performed at UC Santa Barbara exactly 10 years ago. It seems fitting to have this piece performed by the stellar Melinda Marks a few weeks before Julia and her partner Ryan tie the knot. Curious? Here’s what you missed:
Thanks, Melinda, for this beautiful reading. Shot Bloks and Gatorade for all!
We at Play On Words have developed a taste for the fast, funny and ridiculous sketch. Cue playwright Adam Magill. Last May we produced his piece, “Only Customary,” at the Blackbird. Jeremy Ryan and Brian Van Winkle stole the show; Nicole Hughes and Julia Halprin Jackson made a quick appearance as well. There’s no better way to start your Friday than a little pants-ing action. You’ll see what we mean:
Big thanks to Adam, Jeremy and Brian for their hilarious and well-timed work. We hope you adopt some new, eh, customs, this Friday.
Play On Words’ May 22 show, Spring Fling, featured some exciting new work by Bay Area writers. We were also thrilled to feature a new actor, Tiffany Viorge, who together with POW veteran Melinda Marks nailed Christine Keating’s biting play, “Misery Olympics.” Big thanks to our friends Bayard Nielsen and Teresa Fradejas Salazar, who functioned as our unofficial POW videographers. In case you missed it, you can watch the full play here:
We were excited to welcome back some POW friends and family to the Blackbird Tavern, who has acted as our gracious host for the past few shows. Thanks, also, to POW photographer Michelle Anderson, whose photos you’ll spot on our Instagram (@playonwordsanjose) and Facebook (Play On Words San Jose) pages. Stay tuned this week to catch more footage from May’s show.
Have you got a hidden talent?
Are you a writer or performer? Artist? Musician? Man (or woman) about town? We’re in the process of planning our 2014-2015 season and want to hear from people with special artistic skills. Shoot us a line at email@example.com if you’re interested.
The days are getting longer. The air is ripe. Students are graduating. People are getting married. It’s about time spring had one last hurrah, don’t you think? Join us next at 7:30pm nextThursday, May 22, at San Jose’s BlackbirdTavern for Play On Words: Spring Fling. We’re excited to announce our spring lineup:
Jessy Goodman is an imminent graduate with an MFA in fiction at SJSU. She recently one multiple awards for her writing, including the Lois King Thore Short Story Scholarship and the Owen Broyles Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement by a Graduate Student. Jessy is also fiction editor of The Rumpus.
Andrew Christian is a high school English teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose. He holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Creative Writing from CSU Chico as well as a teaching credential from San Jose State University. While studying English at CSU Chico, he was published in the CSU Chico literary magazine, “Watershed” and was featured in the 30th Anniversary Edition of “Watershed.”
Julia Halprin Jackson‘s work has appeared in West Branch Wired, California Northern, Fourteen Hills, Flatmancrooked, Sacramento News & Review, Fictionade, Fiction365, Catalyst and Spectrum, as well as selected anthologies. Julia has been awarded scholarships from the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshops and the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing (fiction) from UC Davis.
David Wirth has spent the last two years accidentally developing a belly, which only recently got round in a way that can be seen through a t-shirt. Since this development, watching superhero movies has, in terms of his psyche/self-regard, become a challenging experience. Further, David Wirth lives in Salinas, where he is nearly always surrounded by beautiful things, especially in the early morning and late evening, when the light is really nice. He likes words.
Sarah Lyn Rogers is an MFA candidate at San José State University, where her emphases are fiction and poetry. She was this year’s recipient of the Academy of American Poets – Virginia de Araujo prize for her poem, “Rat Race.” When she’s not writing, Sarah is a mentor and copyeditor for Society of Young Inklings, and the assistant fiction editor for The Rumpus.
Christine Keating is a writer/director living in San Francisco. Directing credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Can’t Thread a Moving Needle, War Brides, and The Vagina Monologues, as well as staged readings at Custom Made Theatre, TheatreWorks Young Playwrights PRogram, and Santa Clara University. Recently, Christine assistant-directed Good People at Marin Theatre Company and Silent Sky at TheatreWorks. Writing credits include A Girl in Pink (Reading: stageRIGHT Theatre, Seattle), The Sisters Sirene (co-written with Amelia Bethel, commissioned by the 2014 SF Olympians Festival) and an adaptation of Sam Shepard’s short stories, day out of days (Reading: Magic Theatre). She would like to thank Play on Words for this wonderful opportunity! You can look at her face and read some things that come out of her brain at http://www.keatingmarie.com.
Melinda Marks is a theatrical force to be reckoned with. One of the founding members of Play On Words, Melinda has served as casting director, playwright, actress and promoter all in one. We’ve been lucky enough to see her work performed, both by herself and a cast of POW regulars. She performed her monologue, “Medes Infinitum,” at our October 2013 show, and her short play “Menage A Un” was a big hit at our February 2014 performance. As we gear up for our May 22 show (we’ll be announcing the lineup soon), we wanted to pick her brain about what it’s like performing for Play On Words.
POW: What did it feel like to hear your work performed aloud at Play On Words?MM: It was great. My monologue was a very dramatic piece, and it was very private. It was a very different tone than anything I had attempted before. The fact that it was well-received, and that it was from an organization that I had just started with awesome, competent people, made the experience very supportive and very positive. I’m not the type of person who is naturally self-promoting. I like to promote organizations and I like to endorse things that I’m proud of. The fact that I was artistically part of something that I was collectively a part of made it a very positive experience. I was very surprised at how well it was received and I was also very grateful for the opportunity.I had only had one other place produced before my play was performed, and having it read and performed by friends who got it and got my sense of humor, made it a very supportive experience. Because there was so much trust, and because the people who performed it were prepared to push the humor and the absurdity of it forward as far as it could go–it made the experience very differently supportive, and very differently surprising. I think I’ll be surprised every time.
POW: You have also performed work written by other writers–notably, “Predecessors,” by Ryan Alpers, and an excerpt of Kirstin Chen’s new novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners. What was it like to read for writers who were in the room?
MM: Awesome. It was really nice to feel so supported and to be able to support people like that, because I feel like I’m most comfortable showcasing other people and being proud of other people. It’s tough when you’re in a regular show to really show that, because you’re just doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s a show of good faith to be a part of an organization and to help found an organization that is giving that opportunity to people who need it. The highlight of my experiences performing others’ work were being able to read comedic pieces and promote pieces by friends who I think are very funny, and who have done that for me, but who don’t have a lot of outlets for that kind of stuff. There isn’t a lot of room to promote one-acts and theater of the absurd, so Play On Words has been a good opportunity for that. The other highlight was reading Kirstin Chen’s excerpt that she had edited for us [“Platonic Affairs”], because that was something on a scale that I had never done before, and the fact that she was so grateful and impressed, was really humbling. It surprised me in a good way; as a performer you like to be surprised, but it was very validating. Play On Words is not only unique, but we’re doing very well, and it’s an experience and a service that people actually want and don’t get very often. It was really, really nice, and I was really happy to do it. I wouldn’t have thought that I would be in that position, where somebody else on such a large scale was so impressed with that kind of service. It just really changes the way that you think about something, even if it’s an organization that you already believe in, and a medium that you already believe in. That kind of validation really changes your angle on things in a really positive way. Interview concluded.POW: Interview concluded. Thank you, Melinda!If you haven’t seen Melinda perform, be sure to join us at 7:30 pm on Thursday, May 22, at San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern. We’re still on the lookout for performers and actors who might be interested in auditioning for the show. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a bio, headshot and resume if you’re interested. Stay tuned for the full lineup!
Brian Van Winkle’s ten minute play (which he also starred in), “The Way I Picture it In My Head Is,” was a big hit at our February show. Brian is a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon where he received a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts with a minor in Shakespeare Studies. He is also a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory and a member of the Pacifica Table Readers.
In addition to his play, Brian has performed at POW in Melinda Marks’ “Menage A Un” and Adam Magill’s one-act play “Malleus Maleficarum.” He agreed to share some thoughts with us on his writing and performance experience.
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?
BVW: It has been such a privilege to have my work performed by Play on Words. Though this is not my first time having my work performed for an audience, the experience is always beneficial. There is no better way to improve one’s writing than to see how it is interpreted by other people. Seeing other people create something out what you have made allows you to take it in as a separate entity from yourself. You can see what in your piece works and what doesn’t based on how the audience reacts to it. There is little I can think of more thrilling and encouraging than when a desired reaction lands with a crowd just as you want it to–and if a certain idea is not coming through clear enough, it will become obvious by the way that it is portrayed. I am very grateful that there are outlets such as this so that new works can continually be developed and improved for aspiring artists.
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?
BVW: It’s a pleasure to be able to give new writers a voice for their work. In an environment such as this, where we are able to interact directly with the authors, we are able to better prepare a piece in the way that it is intended to be performed. Being directly involved with the artists is a great way to help develop their work as well as gain skills to help hone one’s own abilities.