On Wednesday December 16, over 75 people packed into Sugar Maple for the second Ex Fabula event. Although the stories varied in format, style, and tone, all touched on the night’s theme of “Second Thoughts”. The event was sponsored by 91.7 WMSE, 89.7 WUWM, and Sugar Maple.

The first storyteller to take the stage was Ex Fabula founder Matt Sabljak; his 5 minute Solo story about a break up also explored his relationship with art and writing.  Mike Brenner then took the stage to recount the time he sang Prince’s song “Purple Rain” at a beer tasting. As he acted out parts of the story, it became clear to the delighted audience exactly why cops escorted him out and banned him from the beer testing. Then Ex Fabula founder Leah Delaney interviewed Niclaus Ortiz in a format called “The Terkel”. Niclaus works at José’s Barber Extraordinaire along with his father and brother, and the interview touched on his relationship with his family and the balance between hot emotions and cool logic.

After a short beer break, Rosie Ricks described the night she was the only black person in Lake Geneva, a night whose conclusion surprised her. The next storyteller, Scott Berkes, was the first of three audience volunteers whose names were drawn from a hat; in college, he purchased a 1977 Ford Fiesta for $75 only to discover that getting the car home would pose some special challenges. The last storyteller of the second triad was Leah Leone. I often imagine making a comic about my marriage and subsequent divorce from an Argentine man who was ten years my senior. It would be called: What Red Flag? she cheerfully exclaimed, looking back at her former, 23-year-old self.

Adam Baus came from the audience to contrast two times when he felt artistically stifled and out of place; along the way, he commented on the necessity of being true to yourself, a theme that had popped up in other stories as well. Anthony Umlauf was the last audience volunteer, and he thrilled the audience by describing a booze-soaked bike ride that led to a comical encounter with the law. Gina Ryther and Nita Cordova rounded out the night with a story in “Rashoman” format. First, Gina shared her memories of a birthday party. Her worries about the food, drink, and other party details melted away when she caught the rare sight of two people holding hands. Then, Gina’s friend Nita described an awful day that turned into a memorable one because of someone she met at the party. Their stories highlighted the fact that at every moment in time, people around us are having life changing moments.

Interspersed with the stories, emcee and Ex Fabula founder Megan McGee read Ultra-Short stories written by audience members during the course of the 2-hour event. Stories ranged from several lines about a couple debating a move back to Milwaukee to “Should I have eaten that Monkfish Liver?”

At the end of the night, votes were tallied and Leah Leone was crowned the audience favorite; she was presented with prizes provided by WMSE and Sugar Maple.

The next Ex Fabula event will be Tuesday January 19 at the Hi Hat. The theme will be announced before the end of 2009; Ex Fabula fans should feel free to post ideas for themes on the Ex Fabula facebook page and blog.