3:34 AM / Tuesday December 12, 2017

10 Oct 2015

Powerful African American voices at the 14th Annual First Person Arts Festival, Nov. 4-15

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October 10, 2015 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

Festival announces its full schedule

Tickets are now on sale for the 14th Annual First Person Arts Festival, happening November 4-15, 2015 at venues across Philadelphia.

A 2013 Philadelphia Magazine “Best of Philly” Award nominee, the First Person Arts Festival is the only festival of its kind, dedicated to presenting art based on real life stories by well-known and emerging artists working across artistic disciplines. The 2015 lineup features artists from Philadelphia and the East Coast thanks to generous support from the PNC Foundation through the PNC Arts Alive initiative.

14th Annual FPA Festival highlights include:

• Creators of the hit podcast and novel “Welcome to Night Vale,” Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, interviewed by podcast star Cecil Baldwin with live musical accompaniment by Disparition

• Sonia Sanchez joined by a multicultural group of female authors, poets, and activists who will share first-hand stories celebrating the contemporary woman


• A family-style dinner with radio personality Patty Jackson featuring a soul food menu created by Warmdaddy’s

• The second installment of BEyond Expectations: Engaging Males of Color, FPA’s partnership with the City of Philadelphia DBHIDS celebrating males of color. Past artists include: Black Thought of the Roots, Super Bowl Champion Raheem Brock, and DJ Rich Medina

• The Philadelphia premiere of Bad Kid, a live performance by acclaimed performer and memoir author David Crabb

• The Philadelphia premiere of Out/Spoken featuring stories from the LGBTQ community created by Washington DC’s Story District

• The 15th Season Grand Slam crowns the “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia”. Hosted by Comedian and Author Margot Leitman

This year’s Festival theme and tagline, “Share Life”, is inspired by First Person Arts’ mission of connecting people across cultural divides through the power of personal storytelling, as well as popular trends of documenting and sharing life through social media.

“One thing is very clear,” says First Person Arts Executive Director, Artistic Director of the FPA Festival, and award-winning playwright Jamie J. Brunson. “We are liking, favoriting, following, commenting, and connecting across platforms and devices like never before. These trends reaffirm to us that people want to share life, and everyday people are becoming documentarians of our age through technology, which is really an exciting and empowering concept. This year’s Festival is a tribute to this movement—to sharing life, and maybe even making new friends and understanding ourselves a little better along the way.”

The Festival features a wide range of events including food-based events, (Edible World), theatrical and storytelling presentations (Performances), Author Events, Visual arts, and State Farm Foundation supported Classes and Workshops.

Details for all Festival events are below. A Festival calendar is also available at


First Person Arts Family Dinner

Patty Jackson

Patty Jackson

WDAS’ Patty Jackson, joined by some of her closest celerity friends, invites you to kick off the First Person Arts Festival and celebrate her birthday. Gather ‘round the table with community seating, as storytellers and story fans share life over soul food by Warmdaddy’s. Come pull up a chair, meet old friends, and make some new ones, First Person Arts style. Dinner includes one glass of wine. Warmdaddy’s; Wednesday, November 4; Doors at 5:30PM, Dinner at 6PM; $35 before Oct. 23, $40 after Oct. 23, $32 for FPA members. Special thanks to PECO.


The 15th Season FPA Grand Slam

Philly’s biggest storytelling showdown returns! Winners of FPA’s 15th Season of StorySlams go head-to-head for the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia”, free FPA Slam admission for life, and a $250 cash prize. Contestants try to win over celebrity judges with their most outrageous, gutsy, and heartfelt personal tales. Hosted by comedian, five-time Moth StorySLAM winner, and author of Long Story Short, the Only Storytelling Guide You’ll ever Need, Margot Leitman; World Cafe Live, Downstairs; Thursday, November 5; Doors at 7PM, Show at 8PM; $19 before Oct. 23, $22 after Oct. 23, $17 for FPA members. Special thanks to Harmelin Media.

My Father’s Daughter

Raw and uncut, Philadelphia-born poet, activist, and recording artist Ursula Rucker paints a courageously honest portrait of a family struggling to overcome the effects of domestic abuse and addiction, and while learning to forgive. Weaving poetry, music, and video imagery, Rucker draws parallels between her mother’s life and her own, illuminating how her mother’s relationships and struggles have shaped Rucker into the woman she is today. With live guitar accompaniment by Tim Motzer. Plays & Players Black Box Theater; Friday, November 6; Doors at 7:30PM, Show at 8PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

First Person Arts Podcast LIVE!

Leading headlines get personal in this journalistic storytelling performance. From the Baltimore riots, to the Charleston shooting, to the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, 2015 has been a year of tragedy, change, and unbelievable heroics from everyday people. Hear from individuals who personally experienced some of this year’s top stories, and be inspired by their gripping and heartfelt accounts. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Tuesday, November 10; Doors at 7:30PM, Show at 8PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

Women on the Revolution

Sonia Sanchez and a multi-cultural group of female authors, poets, and activists share first-hand stories celebrating the contemporary woman, and raising issues that matter to women today. Performers tackle themes of race, sexuality and expression, violence, professional advancement, and more. Through readings, storytelling, and audience dialogue, we’ll get to the heart of what it means to be a woman today. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Wednesday, November 11; Doors at 7PM, Show at 7:30PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members. Presented in Partnership with Art Sanctuary.

First Person Arts in Concert

Come get in the groove as a powerhouse of voices, including vocalists Ruth Naomi Floyd, Valerie Gay, and Romona Riscoe Benson, combine personal storytelling with heart-pounding music. They’ll tug at your heartstrings, make you laugh out loud, and remind you to treasure every moment in life, all without missing a beat. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Thursday, November 12; Doors at 7:30PM, Show at 8PM; $19 before Oct. 23, $22 after Oct. 23, $17 for FPA members.

Post Traumatic Super Delightful

Can there be laughter in the healing process? The lives of survivors, perpetrators, and bystanders weave together in a wickedly funny and piercingly insightful one-woman show about a community trying to heal after a sexual assault. In Post Traumatic Super Delightful (PTSD), the personal is political, the political is personal. And the person is a clown. Directed by Angela Dumlao. Written and Performed by Antonia Lassar. Christ Church Sanctuary; Friday, November 13; Doors at 6:30PM, Show at 7PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

Bad Kid | Philadelphia Premiere

Three-time Moth StorySLAM winner, and critically acclaimed performer David Crabb brings you the true story of a Goth boy who dreamed of being anywhere but the middle of Texas in 1991–preferably somewhere in London wearing fishnet gloves and a cape while standing alone in the rain. In this funny and moving examination of rebellion, sexuality and friendship, Crabb reflects on what it means to grow up different and alone, just like everyone else. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Friday, November 13; Doors at 8:30PM, Show at 9PM, $13 before Oct. 23 $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

Out/Spoken Presented by Story District | Philadelphia Premiere

From finding love in the time of Grindr, to praying the gay away, to learning the truth about your lesbian grandmother, Out/Spoken is night of true tales celebrating the diverse perspectives of the LGBTQ community and embracing the challenges and triumphs of being queer, questioning, and proud. Featuring James Ayers, Alex Brewer, Cristina Calvillo-Rivera, Gina Chirillo, Morgan Givens, Robin Katcher, Alan Mishler, and Amanda Sapir. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Sunday, November 15; Doors at 6:30PM, Show at 7PM, $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

BEyond Expectations: Engaging Males of Color

Join us in celebrating the lives and experiences of males of color in Philadelphia with this one-of-a-kind storytelling event. The second installment of First Person Arts’ partnership with the City of Philadelphia DBHIDS, BEyond Expectations features high profile artists as well as everyday males of color who will share powerful personal stories that shatter misconceptions, and give voice to their experience, strength, and resilient spirit. With live musical accompaniment. Directed by Ozzie Jones. (Past artists include Black Thought from the Roots, Super Bowl Champion Raheem Brock, and DJ Rich Medina.) Annenberg Center Live: Zellerbach Theater; Saturday, November 14; More info to come at Special thanks to City of Philadelphia DBHIDS.


Welcome to Night Vale: The Making of a Storytelling Sensation

Don’t miss the Philadelphia book tour premiere of Welcome to Night Vale: the Novel, based on the podcast, with writers and creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, podcast star Cecil Baldwin, and musical guest Disparition.” Annenberg Center Live: Zellerbach Theater; Wednesday, November 11; Doors at 7:30PM, Show at 8PM, $19 before Oct. 23, $22 after Oct. 23, $17 for FPA members.

Kid Athletes

True tales from the childhoods of famous athletes including Babe Ruth (so incorrigible that his parents put him in reform school at age 7) and Muhammad Ali (who learned to fight at age 12 after a thief stole his bicycle) come to life in Kid Athletes. Illustrator and Comedian Doogie Horner takes you behind the scenes of the newly released book, sharing his own stories and whimsical full-color sketches from inside the illustrator’s studio. Children will not be admitted without a parent. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Saturday, November 14; Doors at 4:30PM, Show at 5PM, $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members, 2 children under the age of 15 per adult admitted for free.



Join us for opening reception of Outcry!, a powerful new exhibition curated by the African American Museum in Philadelphia. This politically charged exhibit features artists’ responses to such recent media coverage as the deaths of Eric Garner, Freddy Gray, Michael Brown and Walter Scott. Meet the artists at the opening reception, and hear how each has harnessed their individual creativity to foster conversation, and social accountability. Reception includes wine and cheese. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Thursday, November 12; 6:30PM, FREE. (This exhibit runs: Tuesday, Nov. 10-Sunday, Nov. 15.)


Creating Your Own Solo Show

Award winning dramaturge and director Edward Sobel leads this specially customized workshop on creating and performing your own memoir-driven show. Learn to transform your narrative material into live performance by exploring the structure of a full-length evening, and introducing theatrical techniques and stage-craft into your piece. Six selected participants will work closely with the instructor and receive highly personalized attention and feedback. Participants will be considered for future Festivals. An application is required. Christ Church Neighborhood House, Nov. 7, 8, 14, and 15; the Four-day class meets 10AM-2PM each day; $225 before Oct. 23, $250 after Oct. 23, $200 for FPA members.

True North: The Art of the Personal Essay

In these workshops, we’ll tap into the stories that are waiting just for you. You’ll get a solid foundation in the craft of writing personal essays and memoir as well as opportunities to access your inherent creativity and celebrate its power. By investigating the fundamental tenets of constructing an authentic self on the page, this workshop will help you to deepen your connection to your material, craft memorable and original prose, and discover your own voice. Head House Books; Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8; Two-day class meets 11-3PM each day; $110 before Oct. 23, $125 after Oct. 23, $100 for FPA members.

Quirk Books Presents: The Business of Publishing

Do you dream of becoming a published author, but aren’t quite sure how to get there? Quirk Books Publisher and editor Jason Rekulak presents tips and suggestions for getting your work published in today’s very competitive marketplace. From polishing your manuscript, to writing a query letter, to finding the right market for your book, Rekulak will draw on 20 years experience as an editor to help you advance your work from page to print. Head House Books; Saturday, November 7; 3:30-5PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 23, $12 for FPA members.

Brain Friendly Presentations: Storytelling for Business

Are you hiding behind your PowerPoint or stepping into your power? Is your audience engaged or are their brains on screen saver? Business presentations are notoriously boring, artificial, mind numbing and ineffective. But yours doesn’t have to be! Season 8 FPA Grand Slam Winner and Training Manager Marjorie Winther guides you through storytelling prompts and exercises that are sure to enhance your board presentation, website, consultation, or sales pitch. Whether you’re a high level executive or a dedicated volunteer, this workshop will give you the skills you need to become the presenter that people remember. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Saturday, November 14; 12-4PM; $13 before Oct. 23, $15 after Oct. 15, $12 for FPA members.

Sex, Death, and Memoir

Why is it so hard to write compelling, authentic scenes about some of our most primal experiences? Writers sometimes sidestep such themes as sex and death by falling back on euphemism, cliché, or formula. In this workshop we’ll focus on how to write in the face of taboo, and create bold, genuine narrative around such “risky” topics. Head House; Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15; Two-day class meets 11AM-3PM both days; $110 before Oct. 23, $125 after Oct. 23, $100 for FPA members.

Standup Storytelling: From Craft to Performance

Join Elna Baker of “This American Life” and “The Moth”, and author of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, as she teaches you how to craft and perform a dynamic short story for the stage. In this two-part workshop, you’ll cover story structure, raising the stakes, and the challenge of ending a story in a way that makes the audience care. Fine-tune your live performance skills including pacing, breath, physicality, and creating moments of resonance. Come prepared with one story that you want to develop for performance. Christ Church Neighborhood House; Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15; Two-day class meets 11AM-3PM both days, $135 before Oct. 23, $150 after Oct. 23, $120 for FPA members.


The Festival takes place in multiple venues across Philadelphia including Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (3680 Walnut St.,), Christ Church Neighborhood House (20 N. American St.,), Head House Books (619 S. 2nd St.,), Plays & Players (1714 Delancey Pl,), Warmdaddy’s (Riverview Plaza, 1400 Christopher Columbus Blvd.,), and World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St.,).

Tickets are on available at or by calling 267-402-2055. Tickets for First Person Arts members went on sale September 4 and FPA members receive a 20 percent discount on all events. Non-member purchases made before Oct. 23 receive 10 percent off.

The First Person Arts Festival is presented through the PNC Arts Alive initiative. First Person Arts recognizes sponsors of the 14th Annual First Person Arts Festival: City of Philadelphia DBHIDS, Harmelin Media, PECO, State Farm Foundation, Quirk Books, Janney Montgomery Scott, and KPMG.

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