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10/24/2014

Meet Grand Slam Contestant Marjorie!

GSStortyeller_MarjorieFall

There’s just ONE StorySlam left before the Grand Slam at the First Person Arts Festival! Tuesday night’s Slam theme is “Mischief”, so you know it’s going to be a fun and wild night. AND! We’ll be selling a limited number of Grand Slam tickets at Tuesday’s Slam FEE FREE. So be there to grab your tickets and save some money!

Over the past few weeks we’ve been introducing you to our fabulous FPA Festival lineup. Up this week, meet Grand Slam competitor Marjorie! Be sure to watch the video below of the story that earned her a place in the Grand Slam spotlight. You’ll find Marjorie is no stranger to a little classroom mischief, herself!

Name: Marjorie Fineberg Winther
Age: I remember when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan.
Location: Mount Airy, Philadelphia
Slam won: Chemistry

AG: What was the last thing you won (StorySlam not included)?
MW: Nothing. I did, however, lose two things recently: a humorous story contest they held at my job: my story made everyone cry. I also lost a healthy salad recipe contest.

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share with us a 13 word story?

MW: When trying to get laughs, do not have the sweet old man die.

AG: For the first time ever, the winner of this Grand Slam will get a $250 CASH PRIZE! What will you do with the money if you win?
MW: Invite everyone from FPA to a Dance Dance Revolution Party.

AG: What would your dream theme be for a StorySlam? What story would you tell?

MW: Social activism. I would tell about getting arrested at age 13. (I had started the Elementary School Students Mobilization Committee.)

AG: Who would you love to perform live on stage with?
MW: I want to sing a duet with the late, great Marvin Gaye.

AG: Why are you a good storyteller? (aka why should your competitors be scared?)
MW: No one should be scared. This is a terrible question.

-Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

10/20/2014

Meet Grand Slam Contestant Anne!

GSStortyeller_Anne

The 13th FPA Grand Slam is just a few weeks away! (PSST! GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE!) And we only think it’s fair that you get a chance to check out the competition before the show. Over the next few weeks leading up to the showdown we’ll be introducing you to each of our talented Grand Slam contestants. Today we’re introducing you to “Animal” StorySlam winner, Anne Thomas!

Name: Anne Thomas
Age: 57
Location: Washington DC
Slam won: Animal

AG: What was the last thing you won (StorySlam not included)?

AT: 2013 National Storytelling Festival Slam

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share with us a 13 word story?
AT: One night in a jazz club, four people meet and four marriages result.

AG: For the first time ever, the winner of this Grand Slam will get a $250 CASH PRIZE! What will you do with the money if you win?
AT: Take 10 friends to the trampoline park!

AG: What would your dream theme be for a StorySlam? What story would you tell?
AT: Mistakes were made. I would tell the story about the time I flew from Madagascar to DC via Paris and Air France wouldn’t let me use the bathroom, lost my wheelchair, causing me to miss my connection and then tried to charge me for another ticket!

AG: Who would you love to perform live on stage with?
AT: John Leguziamo

AG: Why are you a good storyteller? (aka why should your competitors be scared?)
AT: I’m willing to be vulnerable.

-Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

10/16/2014

Meet Grand Slam Contestant Lisa!

GSStortyeller_Lisa

Philly’s biggest storytelling showdown, The Grand Slam, returns on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival! This past season’s most talented StorySlammers will take the Prince Music Theater‘s stage and go head-to-head with their best real-life tales on the theme “Thanks A Lot”. Tickets on sale here!

We want to properly introduce you to each of our fabulous contestants to give you a sense of what you can expect at the Grand Slam. First up is Lisa Nelson-Haynes, no stranger to FPA, and surely no stranger to the stage.

Name: Lisa Nelson-Haynes
Age: 49
Location: Landsdowne
Slam won: “New Kid” @ World Cafe Live

AG: What was the last thing you won (StorySlam not included)?
LNH: My husband’s heart.

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share with us a 13 word story?
LNH: There once was a girl from Lansdowne, she’s destined to win the storyteller’s crown.

AG: For the first time ever, the winner of this Grand Slam will get a $250 CASH PRIZE! What will you do with the money if you win?
LNH:
Have my dog, Gracie, neutered.

AG: What would your dream theme be for a StorySlam? What story would you tell?
LNH: Theme: I see dead people. Story I’d tell: Seeing my deceased grandparents during the natural (no drugs) labor of both my children.

AG: Who would you love to perform live on stage with?
LNH: Glynn Washington creator and host of Snap Judgement.

AG: Why are you a good storyteller? (aka why should your competitors be scared?)
LNH: My competitors should be scared because I was a hoodoo priestess in a past life and I’ve rendered a spell which will turn their tongues into jelly at 5pm on Thurs., Nov. 6 thru to 12 am on Fri., Nov. 7.

-Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

10/10/2014

Meet Story League Sings’ SM Shrake!

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We’re continuing to introduce you to our fabulous 2014 First Person Arts Festival lineup. Up this week, we have self-proclaimed “diva” and founder of Washington D.C.’s Story League, SM Shrake. Story League is bringing their hot, hip, and outrageously funny new program, Story League Sings, to the Fest Saturday, Nov. 8 at Underground Arts. If you’ve ever secretly (or not so secretly) dreamed of becoming a rock star, this is THE show for you! Tickets on sale now!

AG: What excites you most about performing at the FPA Festival this November?

SM: It’s our first out-of-town show! So, it’s a chance to show Philly Phriends our unique show idea: humorous stories paired with karaoke-style live songs (that play on the stories). Story League did a survey last winter and we found out our D.C. fans loved the Story League Sings concept MOST of all out of the different kinds of shows we’ve put on since 2011, so it was a natural for our first foray into Philly. I lived in Philadelphia for many years before moving to D.C., and I still consider it my home away from home.

AG: How did you first get involved in storytelling?

SM: I was on This American Life several years ago, but that was just a one-off, not the beginning of anything. Story League came a few years later when I was having a mid-life crisis. See, in real life I am a loner, but one night I forced myself to go to a storytelling event here in D.C. The story community was so welcoming, and the format seemed so perfect (not as high-pressure as stand-up, but you could still make an audience laugh), I thought, “This is my jam.” So then I took it a step further and create my own story-thing. I spent a year going around the country to other storytelling and comedy shows, making note of what worked and what stunk, and when I came back I had own my recipe for how I would run Story League in unique ways.

AG: How’d you come up with the concept for Story League Sings?

SM: Totally selfish: I personally would’ve preferred to be a rockstar over being a story star. I’m from a musical family, but I’m lazy and I am a diva, so this was a chance to get up there and perform at a rock ‘n’ roll club like the pseudo rockstar I always wished to be, on my own terms! Now we’ve done 3 Story League Sings editions in D.C. and they’ve been huge hits because everybody in the cast can “kinda sing” enough that they are entertaining, not cringe-worthy. Maybe Philly would get a good laugh out of some cringe-fest stuff, though. Maybe I’ll purposely put some tone-deaf friends up there so we can all laugh at them.

AG: Where do you love to sing most?

SM: Oh, you know, Carnegie Hall, The Met, various stadiums and arenas around the U.S.—and internationally. No, I like singing while I walk down the street, to freak people out. I’m “one of those.” Another thing: I was on a karaoke team here in D.C. last year! They have a league for that, too. I loved doing the solos… I am not a team player. I am almost viciously competitive, even with myself. I was like, “I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to kick your ass with my mediocre singing abilities.” So I think they were happy I didn’t sign up again. We’re friends, though. Two of their biggest stars are appearing with us in Story League Sings this time!

AG: Story League wants to find the funniest stories. Why do you think humor is important in storytelling?

SM: Look, I have nothing against that type of sharing-focused, “this happened to ME and it’s true and therefore I should tell you about it” storytelling, I just personally prefer to laugh. Every time. I guess it’s like the difference between art (them) and entertainment (us). The difference between just asking me to care about your life vs. giving me some new stuff to laugh at. When a friend you know to be funny is about to tell you a doozy — “Did you hear what happened Saturday?” — that’s the feeling I want to experience before each story. That “Oh, yay! I’m about to laugh hard” feeling. Simple as that. Story League is your funny friend.

AG: What advice can you give those too shy to tell a story on stage, let alone SING too?

Buy a ticket and watch us do it! Problem solved.

AG: You’re from D.C. What is your favorite thing about coming to Philadelphia?

SM: I’m actually from Detroit! So both cities you just mentioned just seem like heaven to me. To answer you, though: I have a lot of romantic feelings toward Philly. It’s like no place else you can go. I lived there for years, starting with school and then staying. For the food. The walkability. For the architecture. The Mummers Museum. For the Quizzo. The sense of humor, which is so mean and rowdy—I love it. I host StorySlams for FPA sometimes, and I follow advice from my fellow FPA StorySlam host, Katonya Mosley, on audiences: “Just insult them! They love it.” The best part is, in Philadelphia they insult you right back! It’s fun, like two-way heckling.

AG: Considering this is the 13th Annual FPA Festival, can you tell us one of your favorite stories in 13 words?

SM: Pubescent boy uses lesbian chatrooms to get off, but the joke’s on him.

Be sure to grab your tix now to see Story League Sings at the First Person Arts Festival this November! FPA members receive a 20% discount on tickets. For more information about becoming an FPA supporter, click here.

- Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

10/02/2014

Meet Lava Fossil‘s Beth Nixon!

LavaFossil3esmithersIn order to properly prepare for the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival, we want to continue to introduce you to our many incredible performers! Up this week, we have FPA RAW artist Beth Nixon of Ramshackle Enterprises who will be presenting her “suitcase theater” performance, Lava Fossil, (Nov. 12-13). Tickets on sale here.

Beth Nixon creates almost anything you can imagine with almost everything you can imagine. She makes puppets and puppet shows, designs mini theaters made inside of suitcases, illustrates, builds masks, and is capable of making any location her performance space. Throughout multiple projects, Beth has both collaborated with friends and artists from Philadelphia, and has created her own solo shows, like the one she’ll present at the FPA Festival.

AG: What excites you most about performing at the FPA Festival this November?
BN: I lived in Philly from 2000-2012, then moved to Rhode Island, so what excites me most is being back in the city and showing folks what I’ve been working on, and seeing familiar faces. I’m excited to come back home!

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share with us 13 random objects you’ve used on stage in the past?
BN:
• underarm deodorant
• a (genuine, taxidermied) sheep eyeball
• a spandex unitard
• whisky
• fruit leather
• high heels
• vinegar
• an ATM
• an audience member’s beard
• space blankets
• a clear glass dog
• athlete’s foot cream

AG: Can you give us any insights about some of the characters we’re going to meet in Lava Fossil at this year’s FPA Festival?
BN: You’ll meet several different angles of me and I hope that you’ll get a flavor for my dad. There are several more scaly extinct visitors and an ash-encrusted Pompeii survivor, or not survivor, and some others. There’s a whole range, there’s a menagerie of other structures, humans, and creatures experiencing grief, loss, humor, and the ridiculousness of being alive.

AG: You use what you call “suitcase theaters” in your show. I’m very intrigued by them. Can you explain to the world what they are and how you came up with the concept?
BN: I didn’t invent the form; it’s an old one that people have been using in magic shows and puppetry for a long time, but it hasn’t, for some reason, caught on as a big trend. I find hard-shell suitcases at thrift shops and reimagine the space inside the suitcase as an environment, or landscape, or character itself. I rig, and build, and finagle strings, wires, or cardboard to transform them into stages on which action can occur. Suitcases are rich with metaphoric potential: the journey and what we carry, an intimate old-fashioned way of unpacking what we take with us when we go out into the world.

AG: How do you decide what mediums to work with when making objects and environments for your shows?
BN: A lot of it is sort of what’s on hand and what calls to me as I move about. I’ll be waking in the park and see a pinecone that makes me want to pick it up. Or at a yard sale, you see some old-fashioned kitchen appliance – kind of like how at a party, you talk to people you are drawn to. I welcome those objects into my art. And often I rely on cardboard, which is an old faithful material for me. I always return to it because it’s free and everywhere and I have the miraculous power to turn it into anything I imagine. In terms of Lava Fossil, I took inspiration from things that I found in my father’s house while cleaning after he died, bringing back to live a lot of those objects, now in ways he likely wouldn’t have used them.

AG: Lava Fossil, the piece you’re going to present at the FPA Fest, was inspired by the passing of your father. Was it emotionally challenging to create and work on this piece while grieving his loss?
BN: Yeah. It was challenging, but life was also emotionally challenging and this was an outlet for a lot of those feelings and a way to process and find humor and possibility in the situation. That helped my grieving process – to have this forum to connect with him through, and with audiences. It’s cathartic and warming to feel the audiences resonate with my story, and hear what it brings up for them. This show has been a place to put a lot of the energy and sadness, and celebrate who my dad was and share my wonderings.

AG: How do you decide on the music you use in your shows?

BN: Like most things, it’s a balance between a thoughtful process and impulse. So, I think it’s the kind of thing where I hear a piece of music and know I want to work with it. Or if I need a piece of music, I’ll open my ears to the world, listening for something until I find it. Mostly, it’s the gut. I’m also often drawn to instrumentals; I’m a big horn appreciator. I’ve also had the honor of working with some amazing musicians to whom I can say “I need termite music” and they can compose just that!

AG: What’s one tip you would give to any of our storytellers who are thinking of building a solo show?
BN: Well, everybody works differently, so it is hard to give blanket advice, but I guess one tip would be to be patient. I’ve been working on this show for two-and-a-half years so far, and taking breaks and making little pieces, bit by bit, letting it grow at its own pace, taking time. And working with a director you trust.

What do you think about all that? Beth’s an inspiration to reuse, reduce, and reimagine.

You have not just one, but TWO, opportunities to see Lava Fossil live during the 13th Annual FPA Festival: Wednesday, November 12 & Thursday, November 13 at 7PM at Christ Church Neighborhood House. Tickets and more information are available here!

- Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

09/25/2014

Meet Stripped Stories’ Giulia Rozzi

Giulia RozziLast month, we gave you the low-down on one half of Stripped Stories, Margot Leitman. And today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Giulia Rozzi. These funny females co-host the entertaining, sex-themed storytelling show Stripped Stories monthly at the UCB Theatre in New York City. Great news is that if you’re local to Philly, the show is coming to YOU live on Saturday, November 8 at Underground Arts as a part of the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival. Tix on sale here!

Giulia is talented in stand-up, improv, and writing – what we call a real triple threat! With appearances on MTV, VH1, CNN, and Jimmy Kimmel, Giulia has cracked people up all over the country. She has performed her own solo shows: Stupid Foreigners, and Bad Bride, which is currently running at the UCB Theatre. Not to mention, she put her hilarious writing into MTV’s Girl Code and Silent Library (rumor has it one of her ideas had Snooki vomiting). But no matter what outlet she seems to use, Giulia’s humor is always up-close & personal, hysterical, and right on time.

AG: What excites you most about performing at the FPA Festival this November?
GR: I love performing in other cities and have always had a blast performing with FPA in Philly, great crowds!

AG: What is your favorite part of working on such an up-close and personal show like Stripped Stories?
GR: I love the honesty and openness of the show, I think it really inspires others to be more open and honest and gives us all the chance to laugh at ourselves. It’s very cathartic for the performers and the audience.

AG: What is the most awkward thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
GR: I performed for a group of nudists, the audience was naked, I opted to keep my clothes on. I was told to not be obvious and look at people’d private parts but it was really hard (pun intended) to do so. I was so distracted I ended up tripping and falling as I exited the stage, hit a table, ripped open my tights and then had 5 naked people run up to me and ask “are you ok?”

AG: Have you ever gotten nervous about sharing one of your own sex stories?
GR: Yes, if it’s a new story and as I’m telling it I’m like “oh wow, I don’t think I want to share THIS much info.” But we attract such open minded awesome fans that I always feel supported and never judged.

AG: What’s one word that describes your experience losing your virginity?
GR: Urgent

AG: What’s your opinion about online dating?
GR: I don’t have much experience except for joining and quitting Tinder a bunch of times this year. I have nothing against it, just for me it felt like another another time suck app on my phone so whenever I found myself distracted by swiping I removed the app.

AG: I know you have experience teaching storytelling. What advice can you give those looking to improve their techniques?
GR: Practice and be fearless.

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share a sexy story with us in 13 words?
GR: I had a guy go down on me so good I almost fainted.

13 words is all you need.

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Be sure to grab your tix now to see Giulia in Stripped Stories this November! FPA members receive a 20% dicsount on tickets. For more information about becoming an FPA supporter, click here.

- Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

08/29/2014

Meet Stripped Stories’ Margot Leitman

Margot LeitmanLucky for me (and for you), I was able to interview the girls of Stripped Stories and get the inside scoop on all things performing, storytelling, and well… sex. Giulia Rozzi and Margot Leitman co-host the outrageously funny, sex-themed storytelling show Stripped Stories monthly at the UCB Theatre in New York City. AND they’ll be coming to the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival this fall!

FPA has decided to give each of the Stripped Stories girls a marvelous introduction, and today you’ll meet Margot! Margot has been recognized for her relatable stand-up comedy that will have you saying “so true” joke after joke. You may also know her from her reoccurring role as Gynoblast on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Margot’s first book, Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase, was published in 2013 and recollects her experiences growing up taller than almost everyone else. She has also walked away from The Price is Right and Let’s Make a Deal with winnings including cash and a new car. In short, Margot is literally a pro at acknowledging the humorous, silly, and let’s not forget – awkward – side of everyone’s sex lives.

AG: What excites you most about performing at the FPA Festival this November?

ML: I have had such wonderful experiences in the past with the FPA Festival. There is nothing better than an FPA crowd. They laugh louder, listen harder, and in general know how to have a good time.

AG: What is your favorite part of working on such an up-close and personal show like Stripped Stories?

ML: I love the community of storytellers and musicians I have gotten to know through the show. People I would now call close friends were often met first by them being in our show.

AG: What is the most awkward thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

ML: I have two dental implants because of missing adult teeth that never came in. A few years back in NYC, I had to get an implant replaced and had a temporary tooth in at the time (kind of like a denture). I was performing in a show filled with drunk and rowdy audience members who weren’t listening. My fake tooth flew out of my mouth mid story and landed on the ground. I was already bombing, so I just picked the tooth up off the floor, placed it back in, said nothing and went on with my set. One audience member shouted, “was that her tooth?” the rest were too drunk to care. I went out with the other performers after the show, including FPA alum Dave Hill, and we all had a good laugh.

AG: Have you ever gotten nervous about sharing one of your own sex stories?

ML: Strangely no. I get nervous when I debut a new story, sex themed or not, as I always wonder if a new piece is going to work. But sharing sex stories does not make me nervous.

AG:What’s one word that describes your experience losing your virginity?

ML: Tropical.

AG: What’s your opinion on online dating?

ML: I am strangely sad I never have done it. I think it’s fuel for great stories. I am sort of jealous of those who have had the opportunity to do it (I am married). I often wonder who I would attract online. Not curious enough to set up a dummy profile though!

AG: I know you have experience teaching storytelling. What advice can you give those looking to improve their techniques?

ML: I would say pre-order my new book, “Long Story Short…The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need,” coming out Fall 2015 from Sasquatch Books! ***And keep your story universal, not self-indulgent.

AG: This is our 13th Annual FPA Fest. In honor of that, could you share a sexy story with us in 13 words?

ML: I once got slapped in the face during sex and I loved it.

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Well, there you have it.

Stay tuned until next week to meet the other half of Stripped Stories, the hilarious Giulia Rozzi!

You can see Margot perform live in Stripped Stories as a part of the 13th Annual First Person Arts Festival at Underground Arts on Saturday, November 8. Tickets on sale at festival.firstpersonarts.org in September! FPA members receive a 20% discount on tickets. For more information about FPA membership, click here.

- Alyssa Guckin, Marketing Intern

08/21/2014

It’s Not Rocket Science

Our next StorySlam is this Tuesday, 8/26 at L’Etage on the theme “Chemistry”. Psst! A few VIP tickets are still available here!

In honor of Tuesday’s Slam theme, we’ve counted down our top five tales from the FPA archive  involving chemistry (both in love and in science). Enjoy!

#5 Mike “Awkward” StorySlam
Mike finds chemistry within someone else’s relationship.
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#4 Brenda 2010 Summer Grand Slam
Brenda shares how science played a major part in her pregnancy.
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#3 Anissa “Ex Files” StorySlam
Anissa discovers love and wormholes on W. 47th Street.
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# 2 Marjorie “Burned” StorySlam
Marjorie goes into depth about her experience teaching 7th grade science (and setting children on fire).
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#1 Diamond “Back To School” StorySlam
13 year-old David steals uranium from a nuclear power plant on a field trip.
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08/11/2014

Rescue Me!

“Lifeline” is the theme of tonight’s StorySlam at World Cafe Live! In order to properly prepare, we’ve tracked down five of our favorite rescue stories for you.

#5 Mike “Journeys” StorySlam
Prison inmates go head to head in a heated game of Scrabble.

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#4 Mohammad “Close Calls” StorySlam
Mohammad
becomes a hero on his new ride: a scooter.

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#3 Sean “Family Ties” StorySlam
Sean’s family whitewater rafting trip looks less and less like an L.L.Bean ad.

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#2 Andrew “Dates To Remember” StorySlam
“Being robbed in Philadelphia is kind of a rite of passage.”

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#1 Bernardo “Against All Odds” StorySlam
Lightning strikes and trees explode when Bernardo summons his Superman instincts and saves the day.

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07/16/2014

2014 StorySlam Theme Contest

It’s that time of year again! We want to know what stories you want to hear! Past year’s winners included themes like “The Ex-Files,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Almost Famous”. Do you have anything better? Enter your StorySlam dream themes in the form below. If your theme is picked for the next Season of Slams, you’ll win 2 free tix to the Slam on your theme! Hurry! Contest ends August 31.

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam @ World Cafe Live: Little Things
  • Date: January 12, 2015
  • Time: Doors at 7:30PM, Slam at 8:30PM
  • Venue: World Cafe Live
  • Location: 3025 Walnut St.
  • StorySlam @ L’Etage: Hindsight
  • Date: January 27, 2015
  • Time: Doors at 7:30PM
  • Venue: L'Etage Cabaret
  • Location: 6th and Bainbridge Streets