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Tales from the ‘Ex Files’

No matter what your status is on Valentine&rsquo;s Day, First Person Arts&rsquo; StorySlam is the perfect Hallmark anecdote<br />.

While everyone loves a good story, not everyone fancies love stories. That’s why this year’s anti-Valentine’s Day festivities would be incomplete without disclosure of “The Ex Files,” presented by First Person Arts’ StorySlam series.

StorySlam features everyday people in the storytelling ring. Ten audience members, each armed with five minutes and the theme of the night, vie for the favor of three randomly selected judges and, ultimately, a Golden Ticket to May’s Grand Slam.

The themes, derived from previous years’ feedback, are always “broad enough to inspire multiple interpretations,” says StorySlam coordinator Karina Kacala. Hence, each episode welcomes liberal approaches to the winning narrative.

In fact, since the series’ debut six years ago, storytelling dynamics in Philadelphia have taken a hearty turn. “We’ve seen a lot of stand-up geared toward storytelling — a form of alternative comedy,” says four-time champion R. Eric Thomas.

Throughout the evolution, a diverse crew has stepped on stage. While some participants, like Thomas, are fashioning careers from storytelling, most are not artists by profession — teachers, plumbers and MBAs alike have all delivered equally delightful anecdotes.

And if January’s slam, “Against the Odds,” is any indication of what is to come at tomorrow’s event, then we can expect a savory set of tales: Last month’s storytellers told of the usual job interview face-off to the Herculean epic of divine intervention (aka how-I-saved-my-childhood-crush-from-tree-impalement).

As Kacala says, “Everyone’s invited.”

All-star storyteller

R. Eric Thomas’ formula for good story delivery:

Be comfortable. “Nobody can tell the story but you.”

Don’t look to the audience for validation. “Don’t be fooled by people’s expressions – they’re usually enjoying it more than you think.”

Wrap it up right. “When you finish talking, sit down.”

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