Ryan Alpers’ Bowling Ball

Who, exactly, do you think would purchase a vintage bowling ball off Craigslist? And how exactly do you picture that exchange taking place? We loved Ryan Alpers’ hilarious piece, “Dick’s Balls,” as performed by Adam Magill in San Jose’s St. James Park on July 14:

Ryan Alpers teaches English and journalism in San Jose. He has a B.A. in literature from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a teaching credential from San Jose State University. While studying at the College of Creative Studies, he was published in the CCS Literary Magazine “Spectrum” and awarded the CCS Brancart-Richardson Award for fiction.

Adam Magill’s “Winston”

How does a dog comprehend loss? This summer we were taken by Adam Magill’s “Winston,” a beautifully written piece that hedges on a sharp turn. Here’s Melinda Marks reading Adam’s work on July 14 at our Words and Music show in San Jose’s St. James Park:

Adam Magill
Adam Magill

Adam Magill is a graduate of the Foothill Theater Conservatory and has received additional training at Seydways Studios in San Francisco. Recent credits include Stupid Fucking Bird at SF Playhouse and The Whale at Marin Theater Company. He is a regular contributor and company performer for the Play On Words literary performance series.

Haunted by Sarah Lyn Rogers’ Prose

Thank you to everyone who joined us this week in San Jose’s St. James Park! We really appreciated the opportunity to fill our downtown park with stories and friends. Today we are excited to feature our first video footage from one of our returning authors, Sarah Lyn Rogers. Here’s footage of Adam Magill reading “Haunted”:

Melinda Marks read Sarah’s second piece, entitled “Mountain State”:

Thank you to Michelle Anderson for filming these pieces.

Sarah is a writer, editor, and illustrator from the San Francisco Bay Area. When Sarah’s not writing or doodling, she selects short fiction for The Rumpus, gives editorial feedback to young novelists through Society of Young Inklings, and writes snarky humanities content for an education website. For more of her work, visit http://sarahlynrogers.com.

Publications, Honors or Awards:

James D. Phelan awards in metrical verse, free verse, and familiar essay. Academy of American Poets’ Virginia de Araujo Award.

Recent publications:

“‘Sleeping Lady Plate,’ 1976” in Cosumnes River Journal

“‘You can never quite forgive’ (148),” in Caesura.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

Sarah Lyn Rogers
Sarah Lyn Rogers

I submitted work for the last two performances, “Take Flight” and “Spring Fling.” Nicole Hughes, who used to be one of the PoW organizers, goaded me into submitting the first time. Now I’m hooked!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I’m on a poetry kick again, rereading pieces I like by Matthew Zapruder and Erin Belieu. Leigh Stein is another writer I admire—she’s able to cram so many evocative objects and ideas into poetry that sounds both nostalgic and conversational. These poets in particular make me think, How did they do that? Can I?

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, is something I come back to again and again. Her shtick is that she’s a Zen practitioner and a writer who had an epiphany: What if she used writing as her meditation, her practice? This book is about “writing practice”—which isn’t so much about honing a craft it is about letting your thoughts flow freely without judgment. Use a fast-writing pen. Don’t look back. Don’t erase. If you reread later and any of your  recorded thoughts have special resonance, go ahead and harvest them—but that’s not the goal.

Brian Van Winkle’s “Audition”

As we read submissions and gear up for our July 14 show in St. James Park, we’re “auditioning” new material to see how it will sound when performed aloud. It only makes sense to conclude our Take Flight series with this final short play by Brian Van Winkle, aptly titled “Audition”:

Thanks to Michael Weiland, Melinda Marks, Julia Halprin Jackson, and guest “singers” Ryan Alpers, Adam Magill and Brian himself.

We hope to announce our lineup for the July show in the next week, so stay tuned!

Adam Magill Reads “Bees”

If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you know what a writer’s workshop can be like. Betsy Miller‘s “Bees” takes an unusual and fascinating approach on the teenage writing workshop. Play On Words regular Adam Magill brought layers of subtlety to this piece June 3 at Cafe Stritch. In case you missed it:

Betsy Miller is one of the co-founders of Thinking Ink Press, a small independent press. She is currently working on a children’s picture book, Brooklynn Bunny’s Super Boots, and on a young adult novel called Dance, Interrupted.

Drumroll Please…Tomorrow’s Lineup!

It’s nearly time to take flight. We had our rehearsal on Saturday night and we are pumped to perform tomorrow at Cafe Stritch. Our playbills will be printed tomorrow–and in one last effort to spread the word, we’re sharing the full lineup for Play On Words: Take Flight here:


  1. “Pink Suitcase,” by Tania Martin, read by Gray Performs
  2. “Van Tribe: The River” and “Dudley and Lisa,” by Rick Alpers, read by Michael Weiland
  3. “Bees,” by Betsy Miller, read by Adam Magill
  4. “Van Tribe: Pumpkin,” by Rick Alpers, read by Tiffany Edwards
  5. “Bride,” by Lita Kurth, read by Melinda Marks
  6. “Van Tribe: Miracle Ticket,” by Rick Alpers, read by Michael Weiland
  7. “Sirs Parchment” and “I Ride on the Bus Out to the Suburbs in the Searing Heat,” by Gary Singh, read by Ryan Alpers
  8. “Stage Kiss,” by Mara Sherman, read by Laurel Brittan, Gray Performs, and Ryan Alpers


  9. “Suburban Fantasy,” by Renée Schell, read by Adam Magill
  10. “Hot Turkish Man For You,” by Valerie Fioravanti, read by Melinda Marks
  11. “Red,” by Melinda Marks, read by Arcadia Conrad
  12. “Swimming Lessons,” by Pratibha Kelapure, read by Laurel Brittan
  13. “Scars,” by Andrew Christian, read by Ryan Alpers
  14. “Cardio Tai Chi,” by Sarah Lyn Rogers, read by Tiffany Edwards
  15. “Audition,” by Brian Van Winkle, read by Michael Weiland, Melinda Marks, Brian Van Winkle, Adam Magill, and Julia Halprin Jackson

As we gear up for the big show, we’d also like to extend our gratitude, once again, to The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the San Jose Downtown Association, as well as Steve and Max Borkenhagen of Cafe Stritch, whose support and guidance helped make this show possible.

San Jose Downtown Association
San Jose Downtown Association

Up Close and Personal with Adam Magill’s “Only Customary”

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.