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.

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.

Nita Lambert reads “When the Bearded Lady Found Love” by Allison Landa

What does love look like, act like, feel like? Sometimes it is possible to be overtaken by a feeling, a person, a moment in time. We were so moved by Nita Duarte Lambert’s poignant performance of “When the Bearded Lady Found Love” by Allison Landa. Watch her February 24 reading at our New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Big thanks, of course, to Allison and Nita, and to Ryan Alpers for filming and Branden Frederick for taking photos of this wonderful afternoon.

Ronald Feichtmeir reads “Shrine of Sain Sakhianwala” by Anniqua Rana

Ronald Feichtmeir has an undeniable stage presence, one that he communicates in a careful, hushed voice, and elevates with unique characters and gestures. We knew while reading Anniqua Rana’s “Shrine of Sain Sakhianwala” that he was the right man for the part. And he didn’t disappoint–check out his wonderful performance from our February 24 New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art:

This piece is an excerpt of Rana’s forthcoming novel, Wild Boar in the Cane Field. She will be reading from it on May 19 at the Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.

Thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming this and to Branden Frederick for taking photos.

“Pedacitos” and “Hija de Tejas” by Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

How can you find pieces of yourself? We were moved by #powsj actor Ivette Deltoro’s performance of “Pedacitos” by San Jose State graduate and Texas poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff. Check out her reading from our February 24 at the San Jose Museum of Art:

Following our intermission, #powsj casting director and actor Melinda Marks performed “Hija de Tejas,” another beautiful poem by Anjela:

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for filming this and Branden Frederick for taking photos.

Want more #powsj magic? So do we! Contact us if you’d like to be a partner for our next show,

 

 

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!