Deaf Storytelling Project

For this project, Ex Fabula trains Deaf community members to serve as storytelling coaches. Those coaches then lead storytelling workshops for Deaf community members. Workshop participants are then invited to share their stories onstage at a StorySlam. The StorySlam is conducted fully in ASL, with interpretation into spoken English. After the Slam, videos of stories are professionally captioned and shared on YouTube and online in order to expand the reach of these powerful stories!

This project is possible thanks to: Bader Philanthropies, Inc., Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, Ex Fabula members, Ex Fabula’s Deaf storytelling coaches

See Ex Fabula’s upcoming events

Note: ASL interpretation is offered at select events. Want to attend a specific event and need ASL? Let us know – ideally with several weeks notice so we can contact the best interpreters out there :)

History of the Project

2018: Ex Fabula, Milwaukee Public Library and Deaf community members began the planning as part of the Gathering Art, Stories and Place project.

2019: The first Deaf StorySlam, which took place at Mitchell Street Library and included both English and Spanish interpretation, went on to win the Associated Bank Trailblazer MANDI Award in 2020. The coaching team included Mayra Castrejón-Hernandez and Jose Barraza.

2020: The project shifted online due to COVID-19. The coaching team included Mayra, Jose, and Jonathan Petermon. Deaf graphic artist Lucas Freimuth created the “attention” image for the Slam. The virtual Slam attracted audience members from around the United States and Canada; videos of some of the stories shared are available on YouTube.

2021: The Deaf coaching team included Jonathan Petermon and Alyson Urdahl. The third annual Deaf StorySlam was an in-person event, but with many, many masks – and a theme that explored COVID-related challenges, “Funny Zero Mask”.

2022: The Deaf coaching team included Alyson Urdahl and Brian Peters. The fourth annual Deaf StorySlam was held in-person in November. The theme was “Explosive Encounters”, and this year Lucas Freimuth designed a new DSP logo as well as a show image.

2023: Ex Fabula incorporated ASL interpretation into multiple ‘regular season’ Slams in spring 2023. Based on recommendations from the planning committee, we plan to offer ASL workshops in fall 2023 and the fifth annual Deaf StorySlam in spring 2024.

José in front of Gathering Art Stories and Place banner
A drawing of hands held in the 'L' position with two eyes in between. The eyes have multicolored circles in the irises.
Explosive Encounters

Media Coverage

LISC Milwaukee

Read feature here: LISC MANDI AWARD

By Emma Brauer

PBS Arts Page

88.9 Radio Milwaukee