Stories and Reflections

3/8/2010
When I first came up with the idea to start an organization devoted to memoir and documentary art, I met with various people to get their reactions. In describing the type of programming I envisioned, I invariably mentioned Spalding Gray. By then, the name “Spalding Gray” had already become shorthand for the kind of bare bones, autobiographical performance style he popularized. I first saw Spalding Gray at the Painted Bride Art Center in I don’t recall what year, but I still remember the image of him, seated at a small table with only a spiral notebook, water glass, and microphone. And I still remember my surprise at how interesting it was to listen to him as he meandered down memory lane, only to circle back to what seemed to be the point to make some pithy observation about a moment in his life. I eventually went on to found First Person Arts, which has now been producing memoir and documentary work for nearly ten years. Three years ago, we launched monthly StorySlams – competitive, stand-up storytelling events in which anyone who has a story can get five minutes on the mic to tell their tale. Not so very different from Spalding’s simple approach -- except shorter and usually preceded by a few drinks of something besides water. Since the StorySlams began, I guess I’ve heard something like 400 stories. Turns out, the ones I like best tend to take a few of twists and turns, then circle back to a point that ties the threads together. I doubt that most of these storytellers are even familiar with Spalding Gray and certainly few of them have been influenced by his work. Yet they are certainly spiritual relatives. I hope some of them have a chance to discover what they missed. -Vicki Solot vsolot

3/3/2010
We were there to experience his stories from the beginning of his time at the Bride until his last performance. We went to everyone and were hooked. - Rick and Ruth Snyderman

3/2/2010
Props:

card table w/ spotlight

flannel shirt

mesmerizing voice

This is what I remember from the first time I volunteered for his performance. I had never heard of him and wondered- what was the big deal? The audience was full of enthusiastic fans,and I was lucky to find a seat.

As soon as he started to talk, he drew all of us in to his story. He just opened up his insides and with such charm, skill, and humanity let his story come out.

It was uniquely him, yet it was universal. I think that is what art can do, and he was an amazing artist!

I was sure to see his performances every time he came to The Bride. (And I think that The Bride was a perfect venue to experience that kind of art)

CONGRATULATIONS: 40 YEARS of wonderment!

- Patt Freda




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Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell was funded by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative.

Painted Bride Art Center / 230 Vine Street / Old City Philadelphia
www.spaldinggraytribute.atthebride.com / Box Office: 215-925-9914