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Friday, February 25, 2011

You Tell Them What to Write, They Compete: Portuguese Artists Colony Reading Sunday

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Those of you who go out to readings probably have a reason why you go: to be inspired maybe, or bedazzled, or to hear a good story. Some of you go for a sense of community, while others hope to escape into somebody else's world or to sink deeply into your own (while in the company of other people, for once). Or, whatever, weirdo.

Most reading series out there are evolving as steadily as you are, and part of what's exciting is to watch these things happen, to become defined by the confines of the community's expectations and allowances.

Members of a group called the Portuguese Artists Colony, whose next show is Sunday, have been writing stories consistently every month since the series started in January 2010, which is pretty damn impressive. But recently they opened their doors to other featured readers, and the results were so positive that they expounded upon them and pioneered a new Live Writing exercise.

It started in September (in fact, I was one of the guests), and this is how it works: the PAC comes up with maybe 10 prompts, and as the crowd files into Fivepoints Arthouse each person votes for his or her favorite. For 10 minutes after the winning prompt is announced, the day's musical act plays while two guest writers duel two colonists in a battle to write (or type) the best story. At the end of the 10 minutes each writer reads aloud, consecutively, his or her story. The audience then votes on its favorite, and the winning author has a month (or two) to develop the result of the 10-minute exercise into a full story, which he/she then returns to read.

PAC also has a monthly feature writer, and January's was Literary Death Match producer and SF sweetheart Alia Volz. Colonist and columnist Cary Tennis told an outrageous story that I maybe shouldn't put on the Internet (but here it is, in the video above), and colonist and creator of Benjamin Wachs told two tales: one of an acid blackout aftermath and one of a date gone even more disappointingly south than the bad trip.

Each month's reading has a theme, too. January was "Blush." There was a specialty cocktail called a Blush, mixed and poured by colonist playwright Daniel Heath. There was extraordinary music by Rachel Fannan, and November's Live Writing winner poet and novelist Andrew O. Dugas, returned to read his story, entitled "God Must Still Love Me." Also, the colonists invited poet Julia Penrose and novelist Matt Stewart (who reads his story in the first video in this post) to compete in Live Writing. The prompt was "My mom is taking me to prison," and Stewart was voted back for this Sunday's show.

The theme is "Grownup Shoes" and will feature three guests for Live Writing: Tanya Egan Gibson (How To Buy a Love of Reading), Quiet Lightning co-founder Rajshree Chauhan, and The Rumpus writer Jeremy Hatch will battle colonist Daniel Heath. Joining them will be the hilarious Scott Landers, incisive playwright Tim Bauer, and special musical guest Fox & Woman, hot with (all) new songs and wielding a Portuguese tongue. And, of course, January's winner: Matt Stewart.

Just in case you want the exercise without the spectacle, every Friday members of the PAC have been meeting at Café La Boheme at noon to engage in a very similar exercise. That, too, is open to the public.

In five words: Multifaceted, entertaining, supportive, comfortable. Quality.

The Portuguese Artists Colony starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Fivepoints Arthouse.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.
Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF
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Evan Karp


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