It’s the city’s only arts festival based solely around real-life stories and events, and this year, it plans to be better than ever: First Person Arts and PNC Arts Alive have announced the lineup for the 13th annual First Person Arts Festival this November, and Philly will be getting star talent from around the country.
To be named “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” is not an easy task. Yet, Steve Clark has won the title, not once, but twice: the Philadelphian has taken home the crown from First Person Arts two consecutive years in a row (2013 and 2014). We had the chance to sit down with the superstar storyteller to learn how he works his magic to charm audiences with his tales (we’ve also got his winning story on video for you).
In partnership with Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, every day throughout the month of February we will spotlight an influential black mover and shaker in the city.
Today: Philly playwright, comedic storyteller and all-around hilarious person R. Eric Thomas. Since moving to Philly from Baltimore to chase down Patti Labelle (an adventure he describes in the video above), Thomas has racked up all kinds of accolades and achievements. He’s won two First Person Arts StorySlam competitions, he was invited to give a TedX talk, and he’s written and performed some of his most popular work, including Will You Accept This Friend Request, to sold-out crowds. He is currently working as an admin at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and continues to perform his unique style of “stand-up dramedy” around the city. You can catch him this week, in fact, when he hosts First Person Arts‘ annual Valentine’s Day story slam, “The Ex Files.” More info here.
Out Philly photographer Zoe Strauss has released a series of images from her 2007 documentary project, “If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In,” to a silent auction benefitting First Person Arts. The project was inspired by a sign she saw off the interstate in southwest Philadelphia advertising an AIDS prevention clinic. The original image, which was included in her 10-year retrospective in 2012 at Philadelphia Museum of Art, is included in the auction.
Playwright and stand-up dramedian, R. Eric Thomas, shares a life-changing moment of creative enlightenment through meeting his personal idol, Patti LaBelle.
Living in Baltimore and considering himself “creatively bankrupt,” he went against his better judgement and moved to Philadelphia, even though his preconceived notions of Philadelphia were entirely based off of the opening rap montage of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as well as the positively apocalyptic Avenue of the Arts shown in the movie Philadelphia. The city he now calls home is responsible for “waking him up” to a creative side he considered long gone until he found the innovative community he longed for through the nonprofit organization, First Person Arts.
The First Taste Fundaiser, a dinner that helps fund First Person Arts, has just announced a special guest for the event: Eric Asimov, chief wine critic for the New York Times. The event, which includes a silent auction, will be held on October 24th from 7-10pm at the Omni Hotel in Independence Park. Asimov will be reading from his upcoming book How to Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto as well as consulting with the executive chef of Omni Hotel on the night’s wine list.
The 10th annual First Person Arts Festival is set for November 10th to 20th. This year the festival is expanding to 11 days featuring local and nationally known artists in theater, film, literature, visual art, and storytelling — all inspired by real life experience. As always there are a number of worthwhile food events including a nightly happy hour at Khyber Pass Pub.
Yesterday Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter and owner of New York’s Prune restaurant appeared as a guest of First Person Arts’ Edible World series at Pumpkin for brunch. There, she enthralled the brunch crowd telling stories of her life, her restaurant and how the book came to be.
Tonight she’s a guest of Marc Vetri at Amis’ Industry Night where Hamilton, a 2011 James Beard Award nominee will be recreating her childhood tradition of a spring lamb roast.
The first 150 hospitality pros who enter after 10pm will receive a copy of the book.
As always Amis requires a recent pay stub for entry. Doors open at 10 p.m.
Tickets are on sale right this very minute for First Person Arts’ Edible World: An Intimate Brunch with Chef Gabrielle Hamilton, which will take place at Pumpkin Restaurant on April 3 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. UPDATE: A second seating has been added 1:30 to 3 p.m. Hamilton, for the uninitiated, is a Lambertville native, the chef of Prune restaurant in New York, a fan of George’s tripe sandwich and the author of the upcoming memoir Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which was recently excerpted in the New Yorker (if the whole book is half as good as the excerpt, it will kick ass).
Rick Nichols will host the brunch, which will be prepared by Pumpkin chef Ian Moroney. Here’s how to get your tickets.