Literature Meets Theater with Stories on Stage Davis

Well, it’s official: Stories on Stage Davis is the place to be. Taking place the second Saturday of each month at the Pence Gallery, each SOS Davis showcases the work of a featured author and an emerging author. Experienced authors perform selections from the work of each author, creating a wonderful mix of literature and theater. Last Saturday’s performance inaugurated the new year with the work of bestselling author, Anthony Marra, and up-and-coming author Maria Kuznetsova.

Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of a National Book Awards longlist selection, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. “Andy Jones did a terrific job reading from the first chapter of Anthony Marra’s really stellar novel. He conveyed the drama and humor of the piece very eloquently,” said Kuznetsova. Marra’s novel tracks the lives of several families living in Chechnya during wartime, reaching forward and backward in time to reveal the devastations of war.

Kuznetsova’s work has been featured in New Ohio Review, The Southeast Review, and The Summerset Review; her novel, The Accident, won the 2011 UC Davis Maurice Prize in Fiction, and an excerpt from the work is forthcoming in The Iowa Review. The evening featured lively performances by Professor Andy Jones and Gia Battista. Jones is a poet, lecturer in the University Writing Program, radio talk show host, quizmaster, arts activist, and public speaker, and Battista is a founding artistic director of Davis Shakespeare Ensemble as well as a playwright, director, and actor.

“It was really nice to kick back and hear the very talented Gia Battista read my story, ‘The Foreigner,'” said Kuznetsova, “I didn’t have to worry about being nervous because I didn’t have to read. Hearing someone else read and interpret my story was a very interesting experience, and helped me think about the plotting and characterization in a new way.” Kuznetsova, who received her master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis, is excited for the future of Stories on Stage Davis. “I hope the event continues to grow in popularity, because they have some terrific authors coming up. I think letting emerging writers have their work read alongside the work of established writers is a really excellent idea.”

Established author and Associate Professor of English at UC Davis, Lucy Corin, whose work was read in December, agrees with Kuznetsova. “Kelley Ogden really understood the difference between reading something that is written to be performed and performing something that was written for the page—she read it in a way that I thought struck an amazing balance of leaving the text alone—not ‘acting it out’—but reading with sensitivity and rhythm and carefully modulated emotional range and expressiveness that brought the intimacy and immediacy of the stage to my story.” Ogden read selections from Corin’s latest work, One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.

The next SOS Davis event, scheduled for February 8th, will feature the work of Kate Milliken and Alexa Mergen. Milliken is the author of, If I’d Known You Were Coming, which was chosen for the 2013 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Mergen is a freelance writer and poet, and amateur naturalist.

Be sure to arrive promptly at 7 PM and bring the suggested $5 donation and a few dollars for a beverage and a delightful baked treat and enjoy a fine evening of literature and theater in the cozy upstairs room at the Pence Gallery at 212 D Street. For more information or to apply to participate, check out the official Stories on Stage Davis website.