On Tuesday February 16,  165 people came together to hear true, personal stories on the theme “Now or Never”. This, the fourth Ex Fabula event, was hosted at the Bay View Brew Haus and was sponsored by 91.7 WMSE and 89.7 WUWM. Interspersed with the nine stories, emcee Leah Delaney read Ultra-Short stories written by audience members during the course of the 2-hour event.

The night began with 3 Solo stories. Megan McGee described the planning that went into asking a guy from her soccer team out on a date. Amie Lohse’s story began with a crying bride and ended 15 years later with a moment of clarity in the Southridge Mall GAP; unable to find anything in the store that she liked, Amie was able to admit to herself that she had lost herself in a marriage where her husband chastised her for innocuous things like clapping louder than anyone else at a school concert. Scott Berkes then recounted a European adventure involving a very tiny car and a journey to Ronchamps Cathedral.

After a short break, the second triad of stories began with the Terkel, with Ryan Schleicher interviewing transsexual filmmaker Ashley Altadonna. An alumnae of the UWM film department, Ashley is working on a film called Making the Cut that documents her journey to raise money for sexual reassignment surgery. Anthony Umlauf then regaled the audience with the tale of an impromptu trip to Florida with a man he had just befriended at a bar; in the end, they had to turn around before they got to Florida because the man had forgotten that he had to pick up his mother from the airport. For the next Solo, Karen Kolberg described the loss of identity that occurred after a stroke which led to brain surgery and partial paralysis; Karen experienced a turning point in her recovery when she decided to use all the skills she had learned- including juggling, mime and comedy- to help her recover.

In his Solo, Dan Niederloh admitted that he used to run away from relationships and responsibility, even to the point of taking a hitchhiker to a pancake breakfast while his girlfriend was in labor; the birth of his son, however, changed him, and twenty years later he couldn’t be more attached to his two sons. Emmett Gross began his Solo with a disclaimer that he means no disrespect to any President of the United States. Then, he shared a mischievous adventure in Dixon, IL where he and his brother attempted to steal a license plate from Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home.  The final event of the night was the Rashomon with Brian Moore and Norah Sadava whose tale centered on the Christmas that Brian, from a Chicago Italian/Irish Catholic family, traveled to Canada to meet Norah’s family, a Western Canada hippie-type clan with many amusing quirks. Over the week of holidays, there was both a birth and a death in Norah’s family, and the event stressed their relationship. The Rashomon came to a surprise ending when Brian opted for “Now” over “Never” and asked Norah to marry him, to the delight of the audience. When the votes were tallied, Brian and Norah were crowned the audience favorite- the first time that a Rashomon story has received that honor. WMSE 91.7 will broadcast the winning story in March and it will be available online to listen to at www.exfabula.org so that all can hear this winning Now or Never moment.

The fifth of six-part series of Ex Fabula events will be Wednesday March 24 at Mo’s Irish Pub on Hwy 100 and Bluemound Rd in Wauwatosa. Would be storytellers should consult the guidelines as they prepare stories on the March theme of “Luck”.