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03/25/2010

Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell at Painted Bride

Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell

Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell

My first introduction to Spalding Gray was not through his work, but second hand through his admirers. I never had the privilege of seeing him share his autobiographical stories with audiences, but in talking to fans, and watching videos of him, I see how much I missed. Vicki Solot, executive director of First Person Arts, once had the opportunity to see Gray perform and was moved by his work, “I still remember my surprise at how interesting it was to listen to him as he meandered down memory lane, only to circle back to what seemed to be the point to make some pithy observation about a moment in his life.” For someone so familiar with the best of memoir and documentary art to speak so highly of an artist says volumes to me.


I have enjoyed watching storytellers perform throughout my entire life, but I was only recently introduced to the art of autobiographical storytelling. Spalding Gray was one of the pioneers of this art form, and very early on in his career in 1976 Gray performed locally at Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Art Center. Since that time Gray revisited audiences many times at The Painted Bride, his last visit in 1999 at their 30th anniversary celebration.


This year, the Painted Bride is celebrating their 40th anniversary by hosting a unique tribute to Spalding Gray entitled, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell. The piece enacts Grays untold stories and was compiled by Kathie Russo, Gray’s widow, and Lucy Sexton, a dance-performance artist. A cast of five actors performs the piece, speaking directly to the audience as Spalding Gray did. These actors include the notable Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours, Michael Cunningham as well as actress Jen Childs, who will be the host of our next StorySlam at World Cafe Live. This tribute may be one of my last opportunities to see a performance done in Gray’s unique style, and I look forward to hearing him meander down memory lane, if only second hand. It all starts tonight through Saturday.


And First Person members are getting 25% off tickets to Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell. Just use the code “First Person” when purchasing tickets by calling the box office (215.925.9914) or in person at the Bride.


– Sarah Crawford

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: Alter Ego
  • Date: October 23, 2018
  • Time: 8 PM
  • Venue: Fringe Arts Building
  • Location: 140 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • 2018 First Person Arts Festival: SlamCamp for Beginners
  • Date: November 4, 2018
  • Time: 12 PM
  • Venue: Christ Church Neighborhood House
  • Location: 20 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19106