What does it take to be an ALL STAR? The season 8 contenders tell us what makes them feel like an all star when they take stage and how they came to be ALL STARS. Hear all of their stories May 18 at Turner Hall Ballroom. General admission tickets are now available for the show, which starts at 7:30 pm with doors at 6:30. 

Sandy, who has short curly dark hair and glasses, tells her story. Writing could save a life, or so Sandy Brusin taught her students at UWM. Sandy’s mother was the one who created and curated her lifelong love for stories, and now Ex Fabula has had the honor to help her continue her love of storytelling. Don’t miss her story at the ALL STARS event, as it isn’t just one that saved her life, but helped heal it

Joel Dresang finds storytelling to be very therapeutic, no matter how personable or anecdotal it may be. SJoel Dresang gestures with both hands and speaks into the mictorytelling to him is an art form, no matter how you tell it, says Joel. Whether it’s a partner describing their day, getting drinks with friends, listening to associates talk aout work, or dinner with the wife and daughter – stories are always varied and it’s about appreciating the stories in our lives. Joel is also an Ex Fabula member. 

Jody Hirsh may be the only person in the world that plays viola da gamba and speaks Hebrew and Cantonese. He’s also a passionate teacher who believes storytelling is a combination of teaching and entertaining the audience, whether that’s his students or his friends at an Ex Fabula event. It can take days or weeks to determine the story he is going to tell. As a playwright, it is that percolation stage of a story that is most important. 

The next time you’re telling a story, remember Jen Hoepner‘s advice: The lights are bright on the stage so you can pretend nobody is in the audience. Jen is often found at SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), Draw Write Here! and Milwaukee Peace Corps Association. She is also an Ex Fabula Fellow and an Ex Fabula member. Listening to and telling stories helps motivate and increase communication with her friends, family, students, coworkers and strangers on a day-to-day basis. It’s why she practices with her daughter before she takes the stage. 

Barbara's face lights up as the crown is placed on her head. She is in a wheelchair.Milwaukee Public Theatre co-founder Barbara Leigh has been dedicated to storytelling her entire life. For the past 42 years, Milwaukee Public Theatre has worked to bring free-to-the-public theater for people of all ages, cultures and abilities and she continues to work towards accessibility in theatre. This years’ ALL STARS theme of unfinished business has evoked a whole range of emotions, so come to hear her story on what’s finished, still unfinished and yet to come at this point in her life.

Storytelling helps us learn from others, as Tom Matthews has learned. Tom, clad in a suit jacket and tie, tells his story.For ALL STARS, he has practiced with family, friends and his fantastic coach whose advice has been invaluable. At the end of the day, Tom just loves to talk and feel that connection with people who will share their time and attention to listen to his story. Tom is part of the Milwaukee Public School system, Trowbridge Street School and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church where he sings in the Gospel Choir.

Peter, wearing a striped shirt with the sleeves pushed up, gestures with both hands as he tells.

All Star Peter May says storytelling is fundamental whether it is trying to entertain friends, teach a class, pass on knowledge or persuade someone. Out of the four stories that he’s told, two were prepared at length and two were weren’t. He found out prepared plot points are better, because if you miss one then you might miss a chance of the audience following along. Peter is also an Ex Fabula member.

Don’t ever ask Heather Swanson for advice, because she’ll tell you to be afraid and do it anyway. Or ask for her advice, because it’s worked for her this far. She can usually be found preparing a story while she is running, cooking, mowing the lawn or staying up late at night. Her grandma, the best storyteller she knows, motivated her to continue to share her stories. Through her grandma, she learned that storytelling can reach beyond barriers and inspire laughter, growth and change.

Thanks to all the storytellers, volunteers, members, venue partners and sponsors who have made our 8th Season possible! Logos for Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee Turners, Transfer Pizza, Colectivo Coffee, OnMilwaukee and the Shepherd ExpressSpecial thanks to our Season 8 sponsors, Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee Turners, Transfer Pizzeria, Colectivo Coffee, OnMilwaukee, and the Shepherd Express, and to our ALL STARS event sponsors, Halling Cayo, S.C. and While You Were Out Pet Sitting.