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In StorySlam, Strangers Go on Stage and Bare Their Souls

Philadelphia Daily News (Philadelphia, PA) , May 5, 2008


At First Person Arts StorySlam, where 10 amateur storytellers mount a dimly lit stage to share details of intimate experiences with an audience of unknowns, it usually ends with applause. A hybrid of a confessional and an open-mic night, StorySlam is "the most democratic" way for the average person to share experiences, says First Person Arts founder Vicki Solat.

Bravehearted volunteers - perhaps emboldened by a glass or two of wine - take the stage to tell their own original story, which must adhere to a particular theme and be less than five minutes long. Judges, who are also plucked from the audience, rate the performances on content and delivery.

At the end of the night, when nothing has been left unsaid, judges tally the numbers and the best speaker wins a chance to compete against other champions in the GrandSlam at First Person's annual memoir and documentary-art festival in the fall.

StorySlam debuted last April as a spinoff of the First Person festival. In just one year, the monthly tradition has taken on a life of its own, regularly drawing standing-room-only crowds to South Philly's L'Etage.

Subjects Covered: personal storytelling, storytelling festivals

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