It's all about the stories at the First Person Arts Festival. The organization, which holds frequent StorySlams and other memoir-based workshops throughout the year, returns for its 13th annual festival, running from Tuesday, Nov. 4 through Saturday, Nov. 15.
With performances, workshops, panels and even food events dedicated to the art of storytelling and documentary, the festival offers many an opportunity to see works from artists hailing from Philly and beyond like Kathryn Erbe ("Law and Order: Criminal Intent") and Zach Grenier ("The Good Wife").
The festival begins on Tuesday, Nov. 4 with a feast. Chef Marcus Samuelsson from Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" and ABC's "The Taste" whips up dishes from his new cookbook "Marcus Off Duty" alongside Philly native and "Top Chef" star Jen Carroll. Dinner is served at Le Meridien Philadelphia (1421 Arch St.) at 7 p.m. — but get there at 6 p.m. for a reception. A book signing with Samuelsson will follow the meal.
Throughout the year, First Person Arts has been hosting StorySlams, where volunteers share their tales in five-minute increments. The winners from each of these events face off at the Prince Music Theater (1412 Chestnut St.) for the Grand Slam on Thursday, Nov. 6. Hosted by comedian Dave Hill, storytellers will attempt to woo a panel of judges based on the theme "Thanks a Lot." Doors are at 7 p.m.
Karaoke meets open mic at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.) on Saturday, Nov. 8. Performers from Washington D.C.'s Story League and some friendly Philly faces share their moments of yearning for the rock star spotlight and go hardcore on some karaoke tunes that tie into the memory. Doors for this 7 p.m. show are at 6 p.m.
Stay at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St.) on Saturday, Nov. 8 for more entertainment, this time of adult variety. Margot Leitman ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien") and Giulia Rozzi ("Chelsea Lately") hit the stage at 10 p.m. for a variety show, divulging sexy stories and engaging the crowd in games. Johnny Showcase provides the live music.
Podcasting comes to life on Wednesday, Nov. 12 when "This American Life" radio producer Yowei Shaw creates an in-real-time radio program at the Christ Church Neighborhood House (20 N. American St.). Selected storytellers will share memories around the theme of "Talk To Me" at this 9 p.m. show (doors open at 8 p.m.).
Comedian and author Ruby Wax is touring in support of her book "Sane New World," a guide on how to keep it cool and maintain your sanity in the 21st century. She brings her comedic one-woman show to the Christ Church Neighborhood House (20 N. American St.) on Thursday, Nov. 13. Doors are at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. show.
Explore the grounds of Christ Church Burial Ground with a tour of the archives, holding records from as far back as 1695. The tour leaves at 1 p.m. from the Christ Church Neighborhood House (20 N. American St.) on Saturday, Nov. 15.
Act III of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" will be read aloud (dramatically, we may add) by Kathryn Erbe ("Law and Order: Criminal Intent"), Zach Grenier ("The Good Wife") and Alex Morf ("The Good Wife") in the Christ Church Sanctuary (20 N. American St.) on Saturday, Nov. 15. Following the 7 p.m. reading, the audience is invited to share their own stories.
Public radio royalty, Ira Glass stops by the Merriam Theater (250 S. Broad St.) for a discussion on the making of "This American Life" featuring multimedia clips from the show on Saturday, Nov. 15. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with showtime to follow a half-hour later.