POW Graces City Lights Theatre’s Next Stage on May 13

We’re thrilled to announce that Play On Words has been invited to participate in City Lights Theatre Company’s Next Stage program at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 13. The free online event will feature POWSJ co-founder, casting director and actor extraordinaire Melinda Marks reading a piece selected from our upcoming June show, followed by a short Q&A with City Lights marketing director Rebecca Wallace, Melinda and co-founder and publicity director Julia Halprin Jackson.

The one and only Rebecca joins us today to answer a few questions about her pandemic arts experience.

tell us about the next stage program. How has it evolved during the pandemic? 

The Next Stage is City Lights Theater Company’s weekly streaming & video series, with broadcasts every Thursday night at 8 p.m. on Zoom or Facebook. I host and curate the series, which highlights actors, writers, directors, musicians, designers, dancers and other artists.

When we premiered The Next Stage in April 2020, it was purely a performance series, in which the artists would design and run their own livestreams. Our first events were play readings, a dance class, and a singer giving a backyard concert. We had no idea if anyone would attend. It was a good surprise.

Soon I also started hosting interview shows. Before working for City Lights, I was a newspaper journalist, and it felt natural to bring that experience to a new medium. And It has been so much fun to interview talented people like scenic designer Ron Gasparinetti, Broadway actor James Monroe Iglehart, and costume designers Pat Tyler and Melissa Sanchez (a.k.a. The LIZZIE Dream Team).

City Lights is a huge supporter of our fellow art-makers in the South Bay, so it was also natural to start showing them off. We’ve hosted a virtual art class with the San Jose Museum of Art, highlighted Los Altos Stage Company’s amazing streaming season, and are planning shows with Veggielution and of course Play on Words.

Over time, we’ve also added better streaming software, cameras and lighting, and greater use of video. I’ve learned so much technology with the help of superstar City Lights consultant Ron Evans, who happens to be my husband. So that’s convenient.


what do you most miss about live theatre?

The energy in the room. The way even when an audience is completely silent, you can hear them listening. The smell of fresh wood on a new set. Intermission debates. Curtain speeches. That moment when an actor drops a line or a prop or another actor and keeps on going like nothing ever happened. Every single opening night I’ve ever attended.


what’s one positive thing that has come out of this past year? 

The way our little City Lights family has only gotten closer.

what is your personal creative outlet?

Writing and singing of all kinds, knitting of the amateur kind, and creating slightly unsettling collage art. And of course I dream of getting back on stage again.

We hope you can join us and City Lights on May 13! Visit http://cltc.org/thenextstage/ to reserve your tickets. And stay tuned to learn more about the writer whose work Melinda will be performing!

Melinda Marks reads T.A. Edwards’ “Return of Saturn”

To what extent do the heavens influence our lives? Scientist and writer T.A. Edwards‘ moving essay, “Return of Saturn,” reflects on a time of great change in her own life, after the unexpected loss of her father. Melinda Marks performed her piece at our LitCrawl show on Oct. 19 at San Francisco’s Stage Werx Theatre:

Many thanks to Cleveland Motley for filming, Branden Frederick for his amazing photos, and to the lovely folks at Stage Werx for helping us fill the theatre.

Want more #POWSJ? RSVP to join us on January 12 at the San Jose Museum of Art for our Beyond Boundaries show.

Sage Curtis’ “Small Apocalypses” in San Francisco

What, exactly, constitutes a “small apocalypse?” Listen as Melinda Marks reads Sage Curtis‘ poem, “A Series of Small Apocalypses,” as performed at Play On Words: Live in San Francisco on Oct. 19:

Sage’s chapbook, Trashcan Funeral, is available from dancing girl press. You can also gain exclusive access to her poems, book reviews and more by supporting her work on Patreon.

Big thanks to San Francisco’s amazing Stage Werx Theatre for providing the great LitCrawl space, to Branden Frederick for taking photos and to Cleveland Motley for shooting the video.

Ryan Alpers’ “Union Meeting” Comes to Life

union meeting
Ryan Alpers, Ronald Feichtmeir, Melinda Marks and Julia Halprin Jackson perform “Union Meeting.”

On October 19, Play On Words was thrilled to return to San Francisco’s LitCrawl to participate in a raucous evening of storytelling, good food and friendship. Thank you to our friends, new and old, for making the show possible and for coming out to support our work. Thanks, also, to the more than 40 donors who contributed to our fall t-shirt drive—it is thanks to you that we will be able to start incentivizing artists to do their thing in the coming months.

What kind of rad art are you supporting by buying our shirts, you ask? Look no further than “Union Meeting,” a hilarious short play written by #powsj digital asset manager Ryan Alpers and created by him and #powsj alumnus Andrew Christian. We kicked off our Play On Words: Live in San Francisco show with this great piece, performed by Ronald Feichtmeir, Julia Halprin Jackson, Melinda Marks and Ryan Alpers:

Big thanks to Cleveland Motley for filming and Branden Frederick for acting as our resident photographer, as well as to the wonderful folks at Stage Werx in San Francisco.

 

“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,

 

 

Melinda Marks reads “Chimes” by Keenan Flagg

Last month we were thrilled to fill San Jose Museum of Art’s Wendel Gallery with stories, friends, and conversation. Many thanks to all of the writers, performers, artists and volunteers who made this show possible. We are excited to share footage from each of the pieces performed, starting with Keenan Flagg’s poem “Chimes,” performed by POW casting director and co-founder Melinda Marks:

Want more Keenan in your life? Check out City Lights Theatre’s production of “Eurydice,” adapted by Sarah Ruhl and interpreted in American Sign Language. The show runs through April 14.

Big thanks to Ryan Alpers for capturing our show on film.

 

Where Everybody Knows Your Story

What’s the story, friends? Tonight we are delighted to present Nostalgia-rama at Dragon Theatre in Redwood City. Five years in, we have an amazing cast of Play On Words regulars who are hungry to share the stage. We’re dedicating tonight’s show to our childhoods–to good writing, bad hair, terrible puns and overall awesomeness:

wishbone
Wishbone
“Flea-bitten Bargain”Written by Vincent Brown and Mo Rocca

 

cheers
Cheers
“Fairy Tales Can Come True” (1984)
created by Glen Charles and Les Charles
written by James Burrows and Sam Simon

TalesFromtheCrypt
Tales From the Crypt
“Top Billing” (1991)
created by Steven Dodd
screenplay by Myles Berkowitz
based on comic by William M. Gaines

twilight zone
The Twilight Zone
“Shadow Play” (1961)
written by Charles Beaumont

We’re grateful to our amazing readers and to the Dragon for making tonight possible: Melinda Marks, Ronald Feichtmeir, Jeremy Ryan, Adam Weinstein, Erin Southard, Tonya Duncan, Nita Duarte Lambert and April Culver. Artist Clif Gold will also be live drawing the event tonight, and photographer Branden Frederick will be there to take photos.

Join us at 7:30 pm tonight in Redwood City for a wonderful evening. RSVP on Facebook for more details.

Until tonight!

Melinda Marks reads “Teacher of the Year”

Our April 11 show, New Horizons, featured some of the best Bay Area talent we’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years–returning friends and new voices. Starting this week, we will be rolling out footage from the live show at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

In case you missed it: Watch the inimitable Melinda Marks perform “Teacher of the Year” by Arcadia Conrad:

This dynamite piece kicked off our New Horizons show. Thank you to the many actors, writers, photographers, videographers and friends who helped make this show happen.

Stay tuned to watch other clips from the April show on our blog. Also: Melinda will be performing at 2 pm this Sunday, April 29, at City Lights Theatre’s Lights Up festival. Tickets are available here.

Want to see us at Redwood City’s Dragon Theatre? We’re busy preparing for a special POW event this August. And in the meantime, don’t hesitate to send us your work for consideration in future events at playonwordssj@gmail.com