3 Reasons to be at the First Person Arts Festival

Now in its 11th year, the First Person Arts Festival is back this fall to remind you that everyone has a story — and Philadelphians usually have quite a few. The annual celebration of storytelling kicks off Nov. 8 with a program of stand-up, poetry, theater, memoirs, visual arts, dance and their signature “StorySlams.” Here are three tickets you won’t regret:

1. “An Evening with Marcus Samuelsson”

The First Person Arts Festival was perhaps the first venue where you could say “food memoir” and everyone not only knew what you were talking about, but they wanted you to keep talking. This year, Marcus Samuelsson is sharing his new book, “Yes, Chef,” over an Ethiopian dinner. And while we’re over hearing about what you ate, Samuelsson’s story is worth listening to: Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, he cooked around the globe before opening Red Rooster in New York and winning “Top Chef Masters.”

2. ‘The Adam Wade Family Hour’

Storytelling superstar Adam Wade has raked up 18 StorySlam titles, plus two GrandSlam championships, telling audiences about his nerdy childhood, his just-as-nerdy adolescence and the family that made it all that much more painful. Hear it for yourself at his “Adam Wade Family Hour,” then learn how to turn your own embarrassing youth into an embarrassing hobby at his “Introduction to Storytelling” workshop.

3. ‘RISK!’

In this storytelling showcase hosted by Janeane Garofalo and Kevin Allison, all of the tales must meet two criteria: They must be related to the theme of “thanks,” and they must be so horrifically embarrassing that they’re unfit to tell on stage. Think about what this means to you. And then be very, very glad you’re not on this roster.

Insider art picks

We asked Jamie J. Brunson, Executive Director of First Person Arts, what’s on her fall art calendar. It’s packed!

“I am looking forward to the last of the African American Museum’s RAAMP It Up! Series, the Good News Gospel Finale, on September 26. I love the combination of music and history. By showcasing African American history in a multidisciplinary context, it becomes a celebration of our traditions.”

“October is Mural Arts Month and includes the dedication of the Peace is a Haiku Song mural, a project launched by Sonia Sanchez that collected peace haiku from contributors across the city. First Person Arts loves and celebrates Sister Sonia. I particularly admire how she’s involving the residents of Philadelphia with this project.”

“‘Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika’ at the Wilma Theater: Blanka Zizka brings a world-class artistic vision to Philadelphia. I enjoyed her take on ‘Part 1’ this past spring and can’t wait to see what she does with the captivating conclusion.”

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