6abc Loves the Arts: First Person Arts Festival

As the saying goes, everyone has a story to tell, and the 15th annual First Person Arts Festival is a chance for people to share and connect across ethnic and cultural divides.

"The First Person Arts Festival is the only one of its kind in the country," says the festival's executive director who goes simply by Jamie J.

She says, from November 7-19, people will share their personal experiences through dance, theater, spoken word, and puppetry in shows staged across the city, "We are doing everything from watching the election together to engaging males of color."

And it all kicks off with the Grand Slam, "where we invite members of the audience to share personal stories on the theme of the night," and Jamie J. says the winners will compete head to head for the title of "Best Story Teller in Philadelphia," "It's going to be amazing."

Throughout the festival, she says, audience members can take to the stage and share, "and you know what, some of the best and most compelling stories come from people that are just living day to day and are not artists, and it's amazing."

Professional performances include Woman of Leisure and Panic, the tale of a 20-something dancer-actress' struggle to succeed.

"She dances. She performs; it is hilarious, and it is real," says Jamie J.

In My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, the black granddaughter of a viscous Nazi commandant shares her story, "alongside the descendant of people who made money off the American slave trade, and it's all about guilt and shame for our past and how do we move on," says Jamie J who adds that it's the festival's mission to bring everyone together.

"When you have the courage to get on stage and share a part of your life with the world, you connect with other people that have things in common with you," she says.

The First Person Arts Festival runs November 7-19.

You can find the complete schedule at www.firstpersonarts.org
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