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!

Christina Shon’s Pursuit of Truth

What’s in a name? Regardless of where you’re from, the names we are assigned and the names we claim carry great weight. Just ask Christina Shon, author of “A Bright Hope,” which details the journey she–and her given name–took from South Korea to the United States. We fell in love with this lyrical and compelling piece, and look forward to performing it this Sunday, February 24 at our New Terrains show at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Germany
Christina Shon

 After immigrating to the US with her family,Christina grew up within a number of different suburbs around Los Angeles, California. She completed her undergraduate degree in comparative literature and spent several years as a high school English teacher. She later moved to New York City to attend graduate school and began working in education administration. Christina currently lives in East San Jose, where she enjoys writing, book clubs, karaoke, hiking with friends, climbing in a gym, pub/bar trivia nights, and conversations over wine and cheese. She is also a consultant for Rodan & Fields. She agreed to answer some questions for us in advance of her show.

What keeps you inspired?

I’m currently taking a writing class that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in being inspired and exploring ways to expand your writing:  “The Lab” Writing Classes with Matthew Clark Davidson

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I have been a huge fan of POW since it was created. They provide a great platform for emerging or seasoned writers, actors, creative types to have their work published and receive feedback from the community. It’s also wonderful to see a group that encourages the Arts in the San Jose area.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I’m inspired by writers like Jhumpa Lahiri and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and modern humorists like Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Amy Tan has a collection of essays called The Opposite of Fate. In one of the essays, she talks about a memory that she has as a child where she is sitting under a tree. A peach falls from the sky and lands in her hand. Her mother later tells her that it was not a peach, but an apricot, and it fell from the tree and not the sky. However, in her memory of the event, in her mind’s eye, that piece of fruit in her tiny hand was a peach and not an apricot. Which is the truth?

As an undergrad, I had an opportunity to hear Amy Tan give a talk about her novel, “The Joy Luck Club.” One of the stories in that novel is based on Amy Tan’s grandmother, who had been the 3rd wife (a concubine) of a wealthy man. Tan decided, while writing the novel, to write the character as the 4th wife, because the number four sounds similar to the word for death in Chinese and it made for a richer story. Tan’s mother revealed later that her grandmother had, in fact, been the 4th wife, but she had been too ashamed to share that truth with her daughter.

When I heard this, it felt to me that Amy Tan had written the novel from her heart and that was more true than the details that she had been given as a child. Just like her memory of seeing a peach fall from the sky, the truth is in the narrative and not the details. Fundamentally, as a writer, I want to write a truthful story. Even if the details are entirely fiction, the story should resonate as truthful. Writing is the most truthful thing anyone can do.

Join us at 2 pm February 24 to see Christina’s work performed live! Reserve your ticket now to gain free admission to the San Jose Museum of Art and RSVP on Facebook to let us know you’re coming.

Our New Horizons

On Monday night we gathered to rehearse for tonight’s show and the air crackled with electricity. Each story, poem and piece is dynamite, and our seasoned cast is more than ready to light up the stage at Cafe Stritch. Play On Words has existed for five years, and in that time we’ve gotten to meet so many amazing artists, writers, performers and patrons of the arts. Every show is special and every show is different. Tonight we bring Play On Words: New Horizons to life.

29790535_1241367555997066_1930253660190529930_nJoin us at 7 pm to witness amazing performers read work by the following fabulous writers:

1) “Teacher of the Year” by Arcadia Conrad

performed by Melinda Marks

2) “The Boy in the Van” by Marilyn Horn-Fahey
performed by Arcadia Conrad
3) “Dear Espanol” by Anjela Villareal Ratliff
performed by Ivette Deltoro
4)  “Bearded Lady” by Allison Landa
performed by Laurel Brittan
5) “Pence” by Michelle Myers
performed by Michael Weiland
6) “Receiptless” by Dallas Woodburn
performed by Jeremy Ryan
7)” Bleeding Heart” by Christina Shon
performed by Laurel Brittan
8) “Rite of Passage” by Tania Martin
performed by Arcadia Conrad
10 MIN BREAK
9) “Your Superpower” by Ann Hillesland
performed by Ivette Deltoro
10) “Construction” by Jon Ford
performed by Adam Weinstein
11) “Sister Fowl” by Maria Judnick
performed by Ivette Deltoro
12) “Toilet Paper Glove” by Valerie Fioravanti
performed by Melinda Marks
13) “Birthday” by Valerie Castro Singer
performed by Laurel Brittan
14) “Fisherman and the Cloak” by Charlene Logan Burnett
performed by Ron Feichtmeir
15) “Journalissimo” by Griffin Lamachy
performed by Michael Weiland
New Horizons will also feature live drawing by Michelle Frey (Instagram/boule_miche and @michellange on Twitter) and Clifton Gold of Luna Park Arts. Michelle teaches weekly live drawing classes at the School of Visual PhilosophySpecial thanks to our photographer Branden Frederick and videographer Ryan Alpers.

Christina Shon’s “Heart”

How do our bodies reflect our lives? Which happens first: our experiences or our anatomical response? We were delighted to find Christina K. Shon’s “Bleeding Heart” in our submission pile this spring. Her story, which describes the narrator grappling with major surgery while falling in love, combines the perfect mixture of vulnerability, honesty, humor and self-awareness. We worked with Christina in summer 2015 and can’t wait to bring her new work to light tonight at Play On Words: New Horizons.

christina
Christina Shon

From a very young age, Christina has secretly dreamed of being a writer in the way that young children dream about becoming movie stars or professional baseball players. It always seemed like a profession destined for those who had been groomed for it. Then one day in graduate school, her “Teaching Writing” classmates were sharing sample stories that they had written. One of her classmates said, “You should give up teaching and become a writer.” That first seed of possibility has slowly grown to a sapling passion. Christina hopes to someday record all the stories that her grandmother used to tell her about their life in Korea.  

She doesn’t slow down, either: This year she is participating in the 100 Day Project. Participants commit to doing a creative project every day for 100 days. It started on April 3, 2018, but everyone is welcome to join at any time.

 

Christina answered some questions for us in advance of tonight’s show.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I am a huge fan! I really love how Play on Words fosters a community of artists, writers and performers, to interpret, share stories, and support one another’s craft. It’s like art interpreting art and then bringing it to life.

Tell us about this piece.

This story started out as just a recounting of my experience of this particular surgery, which I had always wanted to document, but then it became a story about how people have a hard time letting go of things that hurt us, even when we know it’s hurting us.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Amy Tan, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Sedaris, and of course, Julia Halprin Jackson.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

As an undergrad, I had an opportunity to hear Amy Tan give a talk about her novel, The Joy Luck Club. One of the stories in that novel is based on Amy Tan’s grandmother, who had been the third wife of a wealthy man. Tan decided, while writing the novel, to write the character as the fourth wife, because the number four in Chinese sounds similar to the word for death in Chinese and it sort of made for a richer story. Tan’s mother revealed later that her grandmother had, in fact, been the fourth wife, but she had been too ashamed to share that truth with her daughter.

When I heard this, I felt to me that Amy Tan had written the novel from her heart and that was more true than the details that she had been given as a child.

Fundamentally, as a writer, I want to write a truthful story. Even if the details are entirely fiction, the story should resonate as truthful. Writing is the most truthful thing anyone can do.

Join us tonight to hear Laurel Brittan perform Christina’s story, “Bleeding Heart,” at Play On Words: New Horizons! Show starts at Cafe Stritch at 7 pm.

Christina Shon Explores the Opposite of Fate

What happens when a young educator meets her match in a challenging student? Christina Shon’s short story, “Closure,” explores the ambiguity of a relationship between a teacher and her student. We love this piece of writing and are excited to perform it TONIGHT in San Jose’s St. James Park.

Christina Shon
Christina Shon

Christina is an amateur writer. She grew up in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area in 2012 after a 5-year layover in New York City. She enjoys writing stories about twins and hopes to someday record all the stories that her grandmother used to tell her about their family life in Korea.

Upcoming projects:

I am interested in starting a local Writing Club. If anyone is interested, please send me an email at christinashon@gmail.com

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I have enjoyed attending “Play on Words” events in the past. I was initially a bit intimidated about handing over my writing to another artist to read and interpret, but it’s not any more intimidating than having your work published. Once it’s out there, it belongs to the reader (or the audience) to do what they want with it. I’m actually very excited to see how my story is going to be performed.

Which writers or performers inspire you?

My friend Julia. She is not only a beautiful writer, but also a truly grounded person. She inspires me to believe in myself as a writer and to sit down and actually do some writing instead of just dreaming about it.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

Amy Tan has a collection of essays called The Opposite of Fate. In one of the essays, she talks about an experience she has as a child. She is sitting under a tree, and a peach falls from the sky and lands in her hand. Her mother later tells her that it was not a peach, but an apricot, and it fell from the tree and not the sky. But in her mind’s eye, in her memory of the event, of that piece of fruit in her tiny hand, she remembers that it was peach. So which is the truth, and does it matter? This story helped to shape me as a writer, because as writers, we want to write something that is truthful, even if it’s not necessarily factual. A lot of what I write about comes from what I remember.

Tonight’s show is made possible through the generosity of The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association.