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Spalding Gray tribute at The Bride, the venue that understood him

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

A Philadelphia performing arts venue pays tribute to the godfather of spoken-word theater.

New York-based Spalding Gray wrote and performed a string of popular monologues in the 80’s and 90’s. He died in 2004.

From WHYY’s Arts and Culture desk, Peter Crimmins reports the Painted Bride Art Center was Gray’s Philadelphia home.

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(excerpt from film Swimming to Cambodia)
Everytime I think about the USA I get the cold sweats – I can’t even look at a weather map anymore; it’s too big. That’s why I moved to Manhattan – I wanted to move to an island off the coast of America.

Spalding Gray became widely known after his 1987 film Swimming To Cambodia. But in the early 80’s, The Painted Bride was one of the few performance venues in the country that would take him. His performances were not stand-up comedy, not author readings, not performance art – but somehow all three.

Gerry Givnish co-founded the Bride.

His work on stage was new to the audience. They couldn’t get it right away. He looked like he was confessing things about his life that made it seem that he was being self-indulgent. That was the first audience reaction.

A nationally touring show features five cast members performing excerpts from Gray’s work, and each of the three nights at the Painted Bride will feature a different local performer, including WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane.

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