First Person Festival reflects poor economy

    Philadelphia’s First Person Festival tries to get into people’s heads to figure out what they are thinking. The festival shows the way people live now is similar to how they lived during the Great Depression.

    Philadelphia’s First Person Festival tries to get into people’s heads to figure out what they are thinking. The 9th annual festival of memoir and biography features performance, photography, and video showcasing the way people live now. The festival shows the way people live now is similar to how they lived during the Great Depression.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091104pcmemoir.mp3]

    The festival opened with a Depression Party – with regional food of the 1930’s, a photo documentary about a homeless community in Chicago, and music provided by Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter. A festival trafficking in spoken-word memoir can hardly avoid the ravages of economic hardship.

    Director Vicki Solot says the first staff meeting about programming ideas was a bit bleak.

    Solot: After I read the list, we all looked at the list and said, “Oh my god, that’s so depressing!” And it was. We have to be careful – because we don’t want people to have a gloomy night out, on the other hand it is a tough time and we don’t want to be insensitive to that.

    Solot, who has programmed the festival during economically flush yester-years, says the memoir work during the recession has tended toward comforting themes of home and family and hamburgers.

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