Theater and performances find place in First Friday activities

The Arden Theater will join in the First Friday festivities this month with “Tell Me a Story.” Old City’s First Friday is certainly the cultural hub of Philadelphia for visitors to view some of the

ABI REIMOLD TTN The Arden Theater sits at 40 N. 2nd St. and will take part in First Friday activities.

The Arden Theater will join in the First Friday festivities this month with “Tell Me a Story.”

Old City’s First Friday is certainly the cultural hub of Philadelphia for visitors to view some of the best artwork the city has to offer in various galleries. The galleries themselves, however, are situated around one of the city’s most beloved theaters: the Arden Theater.

In years past, the Arden’s involvement with First Friday has been passive, with its space donned a stop to use restroom facilities during the special day of exhibits. But this year, the Arden Theater has become an active, central, contributing member in the First Friday festivities, with a line up of free performances offered to the public.

The associate producer of the Arden Theater Company, Matthew Decker, said he saw the theater as a space that artists could benefit from.

“We wanted to contribute to the artistic groups as a central platform,” Decker said. “ We have the space, why not give it to the artists during this event?”

Since First Friday this March, the Arden has opened its doors to the public as a place to relax, mingle and experience theater in a different manner. Free beer from Triumph Brewery will be offered in the lobby, and the Independence Foundation Studio of the theater is open to visitors to watch specialized shows in an informal manner. It offers a coffee-shop type atmosphere, but with the opportunity to enjoy some entertainment from a variety of theater artists.

“It is a rare experience for people to get to see the developmental stages of theater,” Decker said. “The shows are stripped down, and so different from what we do on our stages.”

Last month, the Arden showcased a group of improvisational actors called “The N Crowd.” The group took suggestions from the audience, and created short skits in response to them – exercises that many actors use before large performances. In May, the theater plans to host the “Berserker Residents” – a group of artists who will present a play as a work-in-progress to receive feedback from First Friday visitors. It is an opportunity to view the world of theater through more casual eyes, in its beginning stages.

This coming First Friday’s April 6 performance will host Hillary Rea and a new theater production titled “Tell Me A Story.” The show is comprised of a group of actors within a coffee shop setting, who tell true-life stories to the audience. Two to three performances will be given during a two-hour window, and during the performance a “Wild Card storyteller” may be chosen from the audience to tell their own story.

“We open our doors at 6 p.m., and the idea is you can come in, grab a beer and walk into a 20-minute show,” Decker said.

Four windows where the audience can view the liveliness of the events that are outside during the performance wall the Independence Foundation Studio, where the shows are held.

“The atmosphere emulates the artistic spirit of what First Friday is,” Decker said.

The Arden will open its doors for the “Tell Me A Story” performance April 6 at 6 p.m., with performances from 6 to 8 p.m.

In addition to the free performance at the Arden this April, be sure not to miss these other events during First Friday.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The art museum will be concluding its Zoe Strauss show, featuring the works of the local photographer from South Philadelphia, on April 22. During First Friday, the gallery will be open to visitors, and an Art After Five performance featuring the Italian music group La Dolce Vita will be held in the museum’s Great Stair Hall. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Friday, with performances beginning at 5 p.m.

More FiberPhiladelphia

The FiberPhiladelphia festivities continue with additional First Friday receptions this April 6. Included in these receptions is the opening of the show, “Oh You Fancy, Huh?” at Always By Design at 265 S. 10th St. The show will feature a grouping of BFA Fibers students from Tyler School of Art: Kelly Flegal, Caleigh Stednitz, Alexis Turner and Christina Lukac.

The gallery’s normal running hours are Thursday and Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. This First Friday, a special reception for the show will be held from 6 to 9 p.m.

Nicole Welk can be reached at

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