Kirstin Chen’s “Boys on the Roof”

Happy Monday!

We’re excited to kick off this week by featuring Melinda Marks’ performance of “Boys on the Roof,” a wonderful short piece by fiction writer and regular POW contributor Kirstin Chen. We were lucky enough to read an excerpt of her new novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, back in February, and were delighted to receive this submission in time for our Lit Crawl show. Here’s Melinda “Boys on the Roof” on October 18 in San Francisco’s Clarion Alley:

Thanks, Kirstin, for your beautiful words, and for joining us last weekend! What a treat.

Coming soon, to Clarion Alley…

Play On Words is thrilled to represent South Bay at the 2014 LitCrawl in San Francisco on October 18! This show celebrates our one-year-anniversary as a collaborative reading series–and as such, we’ve curated an exciting show that showcases some of our most frequent contributors:

Leah GriesmannLeah Griesmann‘s stories have recently appeared in Union Station, The Cortland Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The Weekly Rumpus, and PEN Center USA’s The Rattling Wall. A 2010-2011 Steinbeck Fellow in Fiction, she is the recipient of a 2013 DAAD grant in fiction and a 2014 MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She is currently at work on a collection of stories.

Jimmy Allan read Leah’s story “Slave” at our October 2013 premiere. We will be performing an excerpt of her story “The Unigirl” in San Francisco.

Kirstin Chen is the author of Soy SaKirstin Chenuce for Beginners. A former Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing, she holds an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Stanford University. She has received awards from the Sewanee and Napa Valley writers’ conferences. Her short stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Hobart, Pank and others, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best New American Voices. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently lives in San Francisco, where she’s at work on her second novel, set on a tiny island off the coast of southern China in 1958.

Melinda Marks performed an excerpt of Soy Sauce for Beginners at our February 2014 show. (You can watch it here!) We will be performing her short story “Boys on the Roof” in October.

Brian Van WinkleBrian Van Winkle graduated from Southern Oregon University with a B.S. in Theatre Arts. He is a member of the Pacifica Table Readers. We performed Brian’s play “The Way I Picture it in My Head Is…” in February, and it was such a big hit that we are bringing it with us to San Francisco. He is a regular POW performer.

Nicole Hughes

Nicole Hughes completed an MFA in fiction writing from San Jose State University. Her story “Impasto Portrait” was published in Liebamour. As an MFA student, she was awarded the 2011 Ann Lillis Creative Writing Scholarship and the 2009 and 2011 James Phelan Literary Award. Nicole is one of POW’s three co-founders and the current events manager at Kepler’s Books. We’re thrilled to see her perform “Illimitable Space” in October.

Melinda MarksMelinda Marks has performed in the Bay Area for over 20 years, and has more recently begun trying her hand as a writer of short plays and as a director. She holds a BA from UCSC in Theater with an emphasis in dramaturgy, and an MA from San Jose State in Theater Studies. She will be performing her own translation of Dante’s short poems in October. As POW’s casting director, she has performed in every show. Check out our YouTube page to see a sampling of Melinda’s performances.

Julia Halprin JacksonJulia Halprin Jackson has an MA in fiction from UC Davis. She has received scholarships to the Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshops and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Her work has appeared in West Branch Wired, California Northern, Fourteen Hills, Flatmancrooked, Sacramento News & Review, Fictionade, Fiction365, Catalyst and Spectrum. She will be reading a selection of 100-word-stories at our LitCrawl event–and as a POW co-founder, she is thrilled to bring South Bay writers to San Francisco.

Ryan Alpers

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. A regular POW performer and contributor, he will be reading a few pieces for the October show.

Jeremy RyanJeremy Ryan is a POW actor who has performed as Chester “Cosmo” Collier in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play! at Broadway By The Bay. Other favorite roles include Biff Loman in Death Of A Salesman (Broadway West,) Dennis Shepard/Aaron McKinney in The Laramie Project (Foothill Theatre,) and Chevalier Danceny in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dragon Theatre.) Jeremy is a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory. You can watch his performance of Adam Magill’s “Only Customary” here. He will be performing at our October show.

So…what are you waiting for? Swing by the Mission District’s Clarion Alley on Saturday, October 18 at 6pm to check out our one-year-anniversary show!

Melinda Marks: Our Triple-Threat Perfomer

Melinda Marks performs "Platonic Affairs" by Kirstin Chen, February 2014. Photo by Michelle Anderson.
Melinda Marks performs “Platonic Affairs” by Kirstin Chen, February 2014. Photo by Michelle Anderson.

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.
Melinda (right) with POW co-founder Nicole Hughes. Photo by Michelle Anderson.
Melinda (right) with POW co-founder Nicole Hughes. Photo by Michelle Anderson.

 

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 playonwordssj@gmail.com with a bio, headshot and resume if you’re interested. Stay tuned for the full lineup!

Introducing This Week’s Lineup

In the mood for a good story? A funny ten minute play? How about both?

Join us as we return to San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern this Thursday, February 13, at 7:30 pm. We are thrilled to showcase original work from six Silicon Valley writers, performed by local actors. Here’s our lineup:

First up is “Menage a Un,” a short play by Melinda Marks, performed by Brian Van Winkle, Jeremy Ryan, and Melinda. This piece plays with the awkwardness that accompanies unexpected romantic reunions.

Next we’re proud to feature “Platonic Affairs,” an excerpt of former Steinbeck fellow Kirstin Chen’s forthcoming novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, which has been named a January pick by O, The Oprah Magazine and Glamour, and Chen has been named one of USA Today’s “New Voices”. Melinda Marks will be performing the piece.

Our first poem, “Vibration,” is by Darrell Dela Cruz, a recent graduate of San Jose State University’s MFA program. This wonderful piece captures the charged spirit of romance and will be performed by Adam Magill.

The next poem, “Here,” is written by Metro journalist Gary Singh and explores one writer’s journey to pin a story down. For 450 straight weeks he’s also penned a creative newspaper column for Metro, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper, an offbeat glimpse into the frontiers of the human condition in Silicon Valley. His poem will be read by Ryan Alpers.

Adam Magill will read Eli Hansen’s bombastic satire, “The State of Generation Y.” Hansen is an MFA student at SJSU, specializing in poetry. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 2011, where he served as the poetry editor of Transfer.

Our final piece is a comic play, “The Way I Picture it Is,” by Brian Van Winkle. Brian is a recent graduate of Southern Oregon University, where he received a B.S. 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. His piece will be performed by Adam Magill, Jeremy Ryan, Melinda Marks, Ryan Alpers, Julia Halprin Jackson.

We hope to see you there! Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook!