Our Stories, Our Actors, Ourselves

This Thursday, June 17, we are hosting one of our biggest and most ambitious shows yet — and that’s saying something. Not only are we producing our first-ever virtual show, we are doing it in partnership with the San Jose Museum of Art’s Third Thursday program.

We received far too many quality pieces to include this month but managed to narrow it down to 16 pieces, spanning from an excerpt from travel writer Chaney Kwak’s new memoir, The Passenger: How a Travel Writer Learned to Love Cruise & Other Lies from a Sinking Ship, a modern interpretation of Hamlet by Muse Lee; work in English and Spanish by Sebastian Gomez Biggeri and much, much more.

Who will be reading these amazing pieces, you ask? We’ve got some wonderful performers on the bill, including:

gaz jemeel

Gaz Jemeel is a storyteller in the mediums of acting and filmmaking. His calling as an artist is to help humans heal spiritually while also allowing them to question the reality around them. Raised in Pakistan, Gaz currently is based out of Los Angeles & Oakland. To connect more with Gaz, visit gazjemeel.wixsite.com/actorgaz.

christina shon

Christina Shon is an educator, writer, introvert, bookworm, vegan wannabe, and podcast enthusiast. She currently lives in Timnath, Colorado where she has been social distancing for the past year. 

evelyn huynh

Evelyn Huynh is a Bay Area artist of many mediums and is excited to work with Play on Words San Jose for the first time. When not creating or crafting, she devotes her time to Family Giving Tree, working to provide joy and tools for learning to those in the community who need it most. She sends her love to her ever-supportive husband and hugs to her tribe. Learn more about Evelyn’s artistic endeavors at evelynhuynh.ninja

francheska loy

Francheska Johanna Loy is an actor and a writer. She graduated from San Jose State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Theatre Arts. Francheska was born and raised in Baguio City, Philippines, and she takes pride in her roots and brings that part of her both in her acting and her writing.

IVETTE DELTORO

Ivette Deltoro is the patron experience manager and casting assistant at City Lights Theatre, where she has also performed in a number of shows. She is one of the founders of City Lights’ Mini Lights Emerging Artist program, and served as the casting director for its inaugural production, boom! by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb.

jada roper

Jada Roper is a junior at Milpitas High School. She has participated in productions such as Shrek Jr. and High School Musical and hopes to one day be on Broadway or become a psychologist…it’s up in the air at the moment.

muse lee

Muse Lee (he/him) is the writer and co-executive producer of ARISTOS: the Musical, a pop/rock Iliad adaptation featuring an international cast and crew collaborating remotely during the pandemic. An artist and educator, he taught writing and performance behind bars as a member of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women/HIV Circle, and taught a novel writing course at a court school to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. 


At Los Angeles Opera, he founded and led the Opera 90012 Ambassador Program, a training program for teens interested in arts administration. In 2019, Muse graduated with a B.A. in English from Stanford University, where he served for three years as a teaching assistant in the Theatre and Performance Studies Department. He is currently writing the textbook Acting for Non-Majors with noted Stanford theatre lecturer Kay Kostopoulos.

tania odesho

Tania Odesho is an acting student focusing on improvisational comedy. She won second place in Dramatic Interpretation at the National Forensics tournament in 2007 representing Leland High School. She has worked in education combining improv and learning for K-12th grade students. She is working towards her goal of being an actor. Her hobbies include playing video games, watching documentaries, and playing with her poodle Tink.

melinda marks

Melinda Marks is a playwright, actor and director who has performed in the Bay Area for over 20 years. She holds a BA from UCSC in Theater with an emphasis in dramaturgy, an MA from San Jose State in Theater Studies, and an MFA in Shakespeare Studies from Mary Baldwin College.

julia halprin jackson

Julia Halprin Jackson’s work has appeared in Noyo River Review, Oracle Fine Arts Review, West Branch Wired, California Northern, Fourteen Hills, and selected anthologies. She has been awarded scholarships from the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshops, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, and is a graduate of UC Davis’ master’s in Creative Writing program. Julia contributes to Washington Square, San Jose State University’s alumni magazine, and is at work on a novel set in Spain.

kai katayama

Kai lives in Northern Colorado with his mom, dad, and aunt. He enjoys playing MineCraft, Roblox, skateboarding, and creating science videos, such as his submission to the Poudre School District Science Fair and his performance of “You’ll Be Back” from the Hamilton soundtrack.

register now for our third thursday show, our stories, ourselves.

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.

“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,

 

 

Ivette Deltoro reads “Dear español” by Anjela Villarreal Ratliff

The last few months we at Play On Words have been busy behind the scenes, getting ready for some amazing new shows we will be producing later this year. Busy–but not too busy to continue uploading content from our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch! Over the next few weeks you’ll get a chance to enjoy performances by our stellar cast, as recorded by POW social media manager Ryan Alpers.

Today we’re thrilled to share Ivette Deltoro’s performance of “Dear espanol,” a beautiful poem by SJSU alumna, the Texan poet Anjela Villarreal Ratliff:

We’re grateful to the amazing writers, performers and volunteers who make our shows happen. Stay tuned for more videos–and for news of our next big project, coming to a theater near you in late August!

 

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.

Ivette Deltoro reads Leah Griesmann

What does activism look like in the 21st century? Leah Griesmann’s flash piece, “Before the War,” offers one street-level perspective. We were delighted to include her work in our January 2018 show at Cafe Stritch–as performed by the magnificent Ivette Deltoro–as well as in our forthcoming chapbook, which you will be able to check out in person tomorrow night at DeAnza’s Euphrat museum.

Until then, however, we hope you enjoy Ivette’s performance from last month:

Want to participate in our next show? We’re reading submissions for our April 11 show through March 10. Email us your original fiction, theatre, nonfiction and poetry as attachments to playonwordssj@gmail.com. We look forward to reading your work!

Ivette Deltoro reads work by Christine Stoddard

While reviewing submissions for our chapbook, Activate, we were struck by the poem “Thirty Pounds in Three Months” by Christine Stoddard. We have been on the lookout for work that reflects the anxiety and challenges of today’s political environment, and Stoddard’s piece sheds light on a reality that many people living in the United States face. We were lucky enough to have the amazing Ivette Deltoro read this live at our Activists Unite show on January 17:

You can hear Ivette reflecting on this performance in our latest episode of the Play On Words POWer Half Hour. We also recommend joining her this weekend at San Jose’s City Lights Theatre for “boom,” a play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. This show represents the hard work of the inaugural Mini Lights Emerging Artists program, which offers experience to up-and-coming theatre professionals.

And because this wouldn’t be a POW blog post without a call for submissions, we want to remind all our faithful fans and friends to submit original fiction, nonfiction, poetry and theatre to playonwordssj@gmail.com by March 10 to be considered for our next show.

 

#Powpod Episode 9: Ivette Deltoro, Erin Southard and Mini Lights

Podcast alert! Our ninth episode is special because it features Ivette Deltoro and Erin Southard of the Mini Lights Emerging Artist program, Play On Words’ community partner. Listen to Ryan Alpers interview Ivette about performing “Thirty Pounds in Three Months” by Christine Stoddard at our January 17 show–and get the scoop on Mini Lights, a new series in San Jose designed to support young theatre professionals as they learn to cast, direct, fundraise, and market their own productions. Pretty amazing, right?

IMG_8819
Erin Southard and Ivette Deltoro of Mini Lights

Listen to this special episode on SoundCloud or subscribe, rate and review in iTunes.

Mini Lights’ first show, “boom” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, debuts next Thursday, February 22, at City Lights Theatre in San Jose. Directed by POW co-founder and casting director Melinda Marks, it features Play On Words cast members April Culver and Michael Weiland. In other words: this is a show you won’t want to miss. Tickets are on sale here.

Speaking of great art: Play On Words is currently seeking short works of fiction, nonfiction, theatre and poetry for our April 11th show. We want to read your work! Email us submissions at playonwordssj@gmail.com.