In a month filled with candy hearts & fluctuating, freezing temperatures, the Times Cinema was packed Wednesday night with Milwaukeeans eager to listen to true, personal stories tales pertaining to various Degrees of Separation. Throughout the evening emcees Leah Delaney & Dasha Kelly treated the crowd to warm words, UltraShorts and the shortest song and dance ever. 

The evening’s first storyteller was first-timer Rick Karlson. His presence took over the stage as he shared the various degrees of separation between parents & children; hoping to never experience the sixth. Never too far from the stage, Dave Hendrickson’s story about a narrowing the level of separation between him and a homeschooled public speaking student was relatable and heartwarmingly stubborn. Continuing the tugging of audience heartstrings was Becca Segal; sharing her experience on how being a foreign language special education teacher made her life better and more meaningful.

After a brief intermission and reading of UltraShorts, the stage was blessed with three additional first timers. (Yeah!) Christina Lundberg asked the audience, “What separates a teacher and a student? Years.” She unfolded her tale of a singular passion that united three generations, turning colleagues into friends. Newbie Andrea Skyberg’s hilarious and very adult ‘how I met my husband’ story imparted wisdom of what happens when one gets bored on holiday break. Final newbie of the evening, George Affeldt’s narrative regarding his two divorces highlighted just how small Milwaukee is – sometimes leaving zero degrees of separation.

After a final intermission, Peter Woods shed light on the necessity of maintaining a degree of separation between himself and a talkative dental hygienist. Ah yes, the perils of falling into discussion pyramids. What about the perils of getting lost in the woods? Mark Steidl’s account about his and two fellow Cub Scouts separation from ‘the herd’ led to revealing displays of each of their true characters. Jennifer Hoepner, the evening’s final storyteller, shared a tale that included a fertility doll, fated friendship and ‘a unity of the roses’, placing real power behind the phrase ‘coming full circle’.

While the votes were tallied, guest storyteller (and self professed hugger) Kanwardeep Kaleka spoke to the audience about how a terrible tragedy, education and life in general separated him from himself and from his community. At the end of the evening, congratulations were in order for….first timer Rick Karlson! Hopa!

As always, many thanks to the brave storytellers for gracing the stage and sharing. Thanks to all the volunteers that kept things running smoothly with the packed house as well! Special thanks to frequent venue host the Times Cinema. Ex Fabula is grateful for the continued support and contributions of its members, season sponsors Transfer Pizzeria and BelAir Cantina, and community collaborators.

Written by Ex Fabula bloggers Kimberly M Ousley & Mia Liu