Meet Karina Kacala.
Some of you geeks may have spotted her at First Person Arts slams, walking around in the crowd, taking tickets, and introducing storytellers. A graduate of Swarthmore College, Karina’s the marketing manager for First Person Arts, and is in charge of making sure you know what’s happening with Philly’s favorite storytelling organization.
However, she does a lot more than just market First Person Arts.
Here are a few fun facts.
- She trained as an opera singer at Westminster Choir college.
- She’s a member of the Pig Iron Theater Company Friends Committee.
- She knits.
- And she’s a total geek, obsessed with Settlers of Catan and Game of Thrones.
Read on to learn more about this talented geek.
How did you come to be involved with First Person Arts?
I started as the Volunteer Coordinator for the First Person Arts Festival in 2009, after doing the same job for the Live Arts Festival. FPA liked me. I liked them. When the Festival ended, they brought me on to helm the marketing department full-time. I’ve been blown away by literally hundreds of personal stories ever since.
Share one of your favorite First Person Arts memories with our readers. I know you’ve got ’em.
A great experience was at this past First Person Arts Festival, seeing two storytellers from the FPA family, R. Eric Thomas and Bernardo Morillo, share the stage with Janeane Garofalo and Kevin Allison at the RISK show.
Bernardo and Eric told their first live stories at our StorySlams years ago and have honed their craft over the years. Their stories conveyed humor and vulnerability, two essential elements of a good story. It was exciting to see them achieve this storytelling milestone.
Along with First Person Arts, you do music and sing. Tell us a bit about that.
I’m a trained opera singer with a background in musical theater. I stopped pursuing an opera career when I realized that my interests were too varied to dedicate myself to one area exclusively for the rest of my life, which is necessary if you want to succeed in classical music. But I really started to miss making music. Now, I’m in an Americana/pop band, Acton Bell.
We achieved a goal of mine over the summer, which was to play one of JJ Tiziou’s house concerts. At our peak, we’re a full 9-piece operation with string or horn section, but we’ve also played super pared down versions of our songs, with just guitar and vocals. I also co-host classical music salons with a group of friends and sometimes you’ll find me singing back up for The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, which is always a blast.
Tell us about your brother, who will likely be a Geek of the Week in the future.
My brother is Alexander Kacala, aka Tammy Faymous, one of the fiercest drag queens in Philly. I’ve always been super close to Alex, but wanted a sister, too. Now I have both!
Yes, we even share clothes sometimes. (He was a Phreq of the Week over the summer and thought it was apt that now I’m a Geek of the Week. That definitely fits our familial roles to a tee.)
And now, your geeky guilty pleasure. Favorite movie? TV show? Comic book? Go ahead, no one will judge you here.
My heart will always belong to Star Trek: TNG. I even owned a Picard action figure when I was in middle school. I wanted Data, but they were sold out, so I got Picard instead. My sci-fi geekdom definitely manifests itself via tv programs: The X-Files, Battlestar, Heroes (season 1 only), Buffy (does that count?). I’m a little scared to fall down the rabbit hole that is Doctor Who. I may never leave the house again. God, did Portlandia get that right.
Where can our readers learn more about you and First Person Arts?
Firstpersonarts.org has all the info you could want about FPA’s mission and programs, including the monthly StorySlams, our Festival, classes in memoir and storytelling, and community engagement work. Definitely visit Acton Bell on Facebook, listen to some live tracks, and stay tuned as we schedule our next show.