While Philly has already proven to be a haven for innovative stage art through events like Philly Fringe Fest, November’s First Person Art Festival adds a more personal touch to theater. For over 10 years, the festival has focused on telling ordinary people’s stories through memoir and documentary art. The festival also supports a number of social justice projects. These include Philly reACTS performances, which tackle controversial issues, and the company’s Applied Storytelling Workshops, which teach individuals how to use the power of storytelling to recover from trauma.
The theater company is primarily known for its bimonthly StorySlams which center around themes like “neighbors” or “home for the holidays.” Competitors share their true stories with the crowd in the form of spoken word memoirs. The program also introduced the First Person Museum in 2010 which showcases the personal stories behind treasured objects. These events and exhibitions are featured during the festival season as well. Street has found some of the best and most relevant to the Penn community.
Margaret Cho: Fresh Off The Bloat
Sunday, November 5, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The Fillmore hosts the five time Emmy and Grammy nominated comedian for a show based around her own rebirth. Cho’s new show tackles addiction, abuse, activism, and Asianness with her characteristic wit leading the way.
The Price of Protest: Commonspace Live
with Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot and Applied Mechanics
Sunday, November 5, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
Two protest performances by Philly activist band Applied Mechanics and Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova work to illuminate the latter's experience with the brutal Russian Prison system. The show takes place in the indie performance venue, the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia.
Hari Kondabolu: Commonspace Live
Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
Presented in conjunction with Punch Line Philadelphia, a prominent Center City comedy club, First Person Fest creates a show that blends comedy and storytelling. Kondabolu is a Brooklyn–based comic whose show is an honest meditation on being brown in America.
Saturday, November 11, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
This is the biggest StorySlam of the year, with winners taking home $250 and bragging rights. Advance ticket purchase is recommended, as this event sells out fast.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 AND
Friday, November 17, 2017, 8:00 PM
The Asian Arts Initiative hosts Jimmy Grzelak, who narrates how his experience as an eagle scout is now relevant in our new political climate.