Ellison and Stacie

Ex Fabula spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon downtown at the Interchange Theater, Milwaukee’s first and only cooperatively owned theater. The theater was bright, featured some gorgeous wood detailing, and had a stage elevated just enough to feel like you were a part of the show. My favorite thing about this StorySlam was welcoming families and mixed generations to attend and share their stories. I love when youth tell stories on our stage—their accounts always leave me filled with hope and a new perspective. They even inspire me to muster up the courage to tell my own story on stage one day. *cue the tears*

Speaking of youth on stage, Stacie Rosenzwig and her son, Ellison, returned to share a duo story for the second time in Ex Fabula history. Ellison is braver, somehow even funnier, and much taller than he was back in 2019! You could really feel how proud Stacie is of her son by the way she beamed up at him during his parts of the story. I’m so glad they came back so I could have the honor of seeing them perform together.

Manzur and Yusra

Similarly, Manzur Khan and daughter Yusra attended their first-ever StorySlam after seeing Ex Fabula in action at the Community Development Alliance “Forever Affordable” housing event earlier this month. Manzur’s story captivated hearts as he spoke of growing up in Bangladesh, later moving to the United States, and how a sense of community is different in each country.

Barbara Leigh and Jason Haas retold their tales of past accidents, their “worst day ever,” but later realized that had those accidents not happened, they wouldn’t be celebrating every day following as their “best days ever.” I’m profoundly proud of them for their strength and resilience in the face of difficult times. Barbara and Jason, thank you for reminding the audience that there is a silver lining in even the hardest of times.

A little about Aaron Kohlbeck, he has a birthday, he’s a volunteer, and he’s a co-op owner of the Interchange Theater. Aaron’s story featured a confetti gun, a past show, and an unexpected tension breaker. Sarah Beth Nelson recounted her story of new motherhood, feeling a bit disconnected from herself, and finding community through another storytelling group in Atlanta. Murali Vedula joined us as both a volunteer and a storyteller. He told us of his first-time denial of being awarded a visa to study in the United States, and later on, being granted a visa.

John Bedalov’s ‘best day ever’ came shortly after three and a half years of ‘not the greatest days ever.” Graduate school took a little longer than planned, but he did graduate, learned a lot, and celebrated by checking off a bucket list item: biking illegally across the Hoan bridge. It might not have lasted three and a half years, but it was a momentous ride, nonetheless.


And finally, Ex Fabula’s own Alea McHatten graced the stage, sharing some of her ‘best days ever’ where she gets to be “Titi Lea” to the greatest 3 nieces this world has ever known. Highlights include being along for the ride as her first niece “R2D2” grew up in the NICU and relishing in the delight of sniffing a newborn baby’s head.

As the volunteer coordinator, I would like to shout out how amazing our Ex Fabula volunteers are—two of which joined us on some of their ‘best days ever’. Aaron celebrated a birthday, and Elaine celebrated her wedding anniversary with us at our StorySlam. It’s really special that our community wanted to spend their ‘best days’ with us. Thank you for being a part of our team, we love you!

This StorySlam gave me a little perspective on what it means to have the “Best Day Ever.” We all have our best days, but they look different for everyone. Sometimes it’s the momentous days: the celebrations, the marriages, birthdays, and births. But most of the time, it’s the little details and the friends and family that surround us in love that get us through the hardest days. Those are the things that make us look back and see the beauty we almost overlooked.