Introducing Dallas Woodburn

Can you “return” love? What about your heart? Dallas Woodburn’s wonderful piece, “Receiptless,” explores what happens when heartbreak comes alive. We can’t wait to read her work at A New Horizon, our  April 11 show at Cafe Stritch .

Dallas Woodburn headshot 2017
Dallas Woodburn

The year we launched Play On Words, Dallas was a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. She has published work in Zyzzyva, The Nashville Review, and The Los Angeles Times, among many others, and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles, South Lake Tahoe, and New York City. Her debut short story collection Woman, Running Late, in a Dress won the 2018 Cypress & Pine Short Fiction Award and was recently published by Yellow Flag Press. Dallas is the founder of Write On! Books, an organization that empowers youth through reading and writing endeavors. Awards include the WordWave Playwriting Contest, the international Glass Woman Prize, and a second place American Fiction Prize. She blogs weekly at

We are delighted to perform her piece, “Receiptless,” next Wednesday, April 11, 7 pm at San Jose’s Cafe Stritch.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I love the idea of collaborating with other artists and bringing new life to the written word onstage!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

I was incredibly moved when I watched the performance by Laurel Brittan of Arcadia Conrad’s piece “308 on 308” on your blog. Gave me goosebumps!

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Maya Angelou and her profound grace and wisdom swept through the large auditorium – everyone was stilled, hushed. Her presence was magnetic and intimate and beautiful.

I also loved a performance I attended in London of the play Woman in Black, which illustrated the amazing power of words to hold us spellbound in our imaginations. The entire play is presented as a story that is being told to the audience, with a very minimalist set design, and yet your brain fills in all the details and you feel wholly transported into the story.

We hope you can join us next week to see Dallas’ work performed. Come early and snag a copy of her new book, Woman, Running Late, in a Dress.

Ann Hillesland’s Superpower

Spring is in full bloom, which means that Play On Words is busy taking advantage of the extra daylight to squeeze in another show this month. We’re thrilled to roll out our lineup for our April 11 show at Cafe Stritch this week, starting with the fabulous Ann Hillesland. A California native, Ann writes fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been published in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, Bayou, The Laurel Review, Corium, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has been presented onstage by Stories On Stage Davis and Denver. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte.


Ann Hillesland

Ann’s piece, “About My Mother,” was chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions. Her story “Pique Assiette” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her piece “Pale Rider” won the grand prize for prose in Spark contest 8. 


Her recent publications include:

We’re delighted to be reading her piece, “Your Superpower,” at our April 11 show.

What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?

I had a story read by Stories on Stage, Davis, and it was a blast!

Which writers or performers inspire you?

Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street made me love flash fiction before I knew what it was. Alice Munro’s stories give me a new appreciation of what a short story can encompass.

Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.

I’ve always loved F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I was young I wanted to grow up to write like him. I find myself returning to The Great Gatsby over and over. It’s gorgeous from ifs novel craft to its writing style.

Want to hear Ann’s work read aloud? Join us at 7 pm Wednesday, April 11, for Play On Words: New Horizons at Cafe Stritch.


Submissions due by Mar 10

Good news Playonwordsians, past, present and future: We’re currently accepting submissions for our April 11th show at Cafe Stritch. We need you!

POW Cast members Michael Weiland, Keenan Flagg, Arcadia Conrad, Ivette Deltoro, Laurel Brittan, Melinda Marks and Julia Halprin Jackson at our January 2018 show. Photo: Leo Alvarez.

Submission Guidelines

We accept works of fiction, nonfiction, theater and poetry. While our aesthetic tends toward the funny, unusual, thought-provoking and absurd, more than anything we want to read work that surprises us and pops off the stage. We cap submissions at 1500 words, though there is some wiggle room with works of theater.

To submit, email an attachment of your work to playonwordssj@gmail.comUse this opportunity to tell us a little bit about yourself and how you see this piece being performed.

Haven’t been to a show? Check out our YouTube channel and our podcast to learn more about the work we produce.