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7 shows you can’t miss at the 2017 First Person Arts Festival

The celebrated festival is now in its 16th year.
Margaret Cho opens the 2017 First Person Arts Festival at The Fillmore. | Provided
Margaret Cho opens the 2017 First Person Arts Festival at The Fillmore. Provided

Everyone has a story and a unique perspective on the world we live in and Philadelphia’s First Person Arts Festival is all about celebrating those stories. From Nov. 5 to Nov. 18, 12 performances will take place around Philadelphia, featuring both national and local talent.

“Storytelling is at the core of all art forms,” says Jamie J. Brunson, executive director of First Person Arts. “The ability to weave a great story is what connects us to it and  allows us to experience someone else's truth. These stories resonate with an undeniable authenticity; they inspire empathy and build affinity.  They make us more human.”

From renowned comedian Margaret Cho opening up the festival on Nov. 5 to Russian punk artist Nadya Tolokokonova from Pussy Riot discussing activism on Nov. 6, there are so many must-see events at the 2017 First Person Arts Festival. Here are our top picks:

Margaret Cho: Fresh Off The Bloat
Sunday, Nov. 5
The Fillmore
29 E. Allen St.

Celebrated comedian Margaret Cho opens up First Person Arts 2017 at the Fillmore with “Fresh Off the Bloat,” tackling topics like addiction, abuse and activism.

The Price of Protest: Nadya Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot and Applied Mechanics
Monday, Nov. 6
First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
2125 Chestnut St.

Back in 2012, Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot along with her band members performed a “punk rock prayer” in a cathedral demanding the defeat of Vladimir Putin. They were imprisoned for two years as a result and now, Tolokonnikova discusses her experience at this Commonspace Live event.

Love Activism
Tuesday, Nov. 7
National Museum of American Jewish History
101 South Independence Mall E.

Is love really all we need? Another Commonspace Live event, Love Activism explores the experiences of Philadelphians who are changing lives and the world we live in through love.

Grand Slam
Saturday, Nov. 11
FringeArts
140 N. Christopher Columbus Blvd.

Throughout the year, local storytellers have been making their voices heard at StorySlam events, competing for a cash prize of $100. All of these winners have made it to the Grand Slam event at the First Person Arts Festival, where they could win the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia,” free FPA Slam admission for live and a $250 cash prize.

Maria Bamford:
Sunday, Nov. 12
The Fillmore

Star of the Netflix series, “Lady Dynamite,” Maria Bamford takes part in this year’s First Person Arts Festival with her show at The Fillmore, exploring her thoughts on life, the universe and well, pretty much everything.

Legendary
Monday, Nov. 13
Underground Arts
1200 Callowhill St.

You knew that “voguing,” didn’t start with Madonna, right? Its origins are in ball culture, a subculture of LGBT communities where participants compete for prizes at events called balls. At “Legendary,” dancer Leiomy Maldonado (aka The Wonder Woman of Vogue), performs choreography by Kemar Jewel and the Xcel Dance Crew for a high-energy and unforgettable night of entertainment and community.

Sweet 16 Soiree
Saturday, Nov. 18
Christ Church Neighborhood House
20 N. American St. 

End the 2017 First Person Arts Festival in style by dressing up and mingling with your favorite storytellers. The evening will feature light bites, drinks, storytelling and dancing.

For more information, visit: firstpersonarts.org.