“Skin Puddles” on our first birthday

On this day in Play On Words history, we hosted our first show at San Jose’s Blackbird Tavern, featuring the work of Ryan Alpers, Leah Griesmann, Eric Sneathen, Adam Magill and Melinda Marks. We are so grateful to Chris and Leah of the Blackbird for their encouraging and helpful partnership for our three San Jose shows, and are so sorry to hear that the Blackbird has shut its doors. [Note: If you liked the Blackbird, you’ll certainly love Naglee Park Garage, their sister restaurant.] It is thanks in part to them that Play On Words has gained momentum in the last year–and we hope to continue growing, performing and reading your work.

It’s fitting, then, to feature Nicole Hughes’ first reading of her own work for Play On Words on our blog today. Nicole is one of POW’s three co-founders, a recent MFA grad from San Jose State University, the former acting director of the Center for Literary Arts, and the current events manager for Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park. Here she is knocking it out of the park with her reading of “Skin Puddles” last Saturday in Clarion Alley in San Francisco:

Congrats, Nicole! And happy birthday Play On Words!

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!

Up Close and Personal with Adam Magill’s “Only Customary”

We at Play On Words have developed a taste for the fast, funny and ridiculous sketch. Cue playwright Adam Magill. Last May we produced his piece, “Only Customary,” at the Blackbird. Jeremy Ryan and Brian Van Winkle stole the show; Nicole Hughes and Julia Halprin Jackson made a quick appearance as well. There’s no better way to start your Friday than a little pants-ing action. You’ll see what we mean:

Big thanks to Adam, Jeremy and Brian for their hilarious and well-timed work. We hope you adopt some new, eh, customs, this Friday.