Ex Fabula events strengthen community bonds by creating spaces where people can connect over true,
personal stories. No props, no notes – just the elements of “Story. Stage. You”.

StorySlam: Birth Stories

September 12 @ 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm

StorySlam: Reunion

September 18 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Deaf StorySlam: Labels

September 22 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

StorySlam: Signs

October 10 @ 7:30 pm - 9:45 pm

See all upcoming events

You can come just to listen – or, if you have a story that fits the night’s theme, throw your name in the hat for a chance to take the stage. Would-be storytellers should choose stories that tie in to the theme and practice telling their stories without notes while respecting the time limit. At the event, a timekeeper gives the tellers cues to help them stay on track, but time flies when on stage so practicing can be very beneficial!

Types of StorySlams

Our “Regular Season” consists of approximately 8 Regular StorySlams, the Spectacular, and ALL STARS. These public events for adults all feature true, personal stories on a theme – some told by community members who get up on stage, and others shared in the form of audience UltraShorts.

Regular StorySlams

At these events, the storytellers are not selected in advance; any attendee can throw their name in the hat for the chance to share a true, personal story on the night’s theme. Stories should be told in 5 minutes or less and shared without any props or notes. Over the course of the night, nine tellers take the stage. At the end of the night, the audience votes and an Audience Favorite is crowned.


A special noncompetitive StorySlam with new, longer stories from storytellers chosen by a jury of Ex Fabula volunteers and storytelling coaches! Features tellers who shared compelling stories at regular season Slams alongside tellers from community partnerships.


This season finale event features Audience Favorites from the Regular StorySlams. Each teller gets to work with an Ex Fabula Storytelling Coach to craft a new longer story to share. At the end of the night, the audience votes to crown a Season Audience Favorite.

Beyond the Regular Season, we also present Community Collaborations and Secret Fabula events.

Community Collaborations

Throughout the year, we work with community partners to present special StorySlams outside of our regular events. Each event is unique – but all events help to strengthen community bonds.

Secret Fabula

These are intimate, members-only events that go behind the scenes of “quintessentially Milwaukee” institutions and businesses. Held at least 3 times per year, these events combine storytelling, tours, trivia, refreshments and community building to create memorable experiences. Learn more about membership.

Wanna tell a story? Check out the guidelines and preparation tips below and consider signing up for one of our workshops.

Storytelling formats

  •  “The Solo.” Individual storytellers take the stage; solos can be up to five minutes in length at regular events.
  •  “The Duo.” Two storytellers take the stage together to tell a story about a shared experience. At regular events, a duo can have up to ten minutes.
  •  “The Rashomon.” In this format named after Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s classic that explores multiple perspectives, two storytellers will tell their versions of the same story. These stories are ten minutes total or 5 each for 2 storytellers.
  •  “The Terkel.” A question and answer interview format. Think Studs Terkel in your living room coaxing vignettes from an everyman, if your living room was a stage at a bar and the everyman was your father.
  •  “The UltraShort.” A written format that allows you to share your story without leaving your seat. During the Slam, volunteers pass out slips of paper where you can write a 1-5 line story that is true, personal, and related to the night’s theme. You may include your name or remain anonymous – your choice! Throughout the evening, emcees read these stories from the stage, so submit yours early and write clearly.

How to prepare for “The Solo”

  1. Pick a story that you love. Your story should be true, personal, and related at least peripherally to the theme.
  2. Tell it to several different people to gauge interest.
  3. Journal about the story or create an outline. Focus on the moments that push the story forward; cut meandering tangents that don’t.
  4. Edit. Ask yourself:  How did this experience change me? Include places for self-reflection in your story.  How is this story universal? What larger themes does my story touch upon? Does my story have details that make the story come alive? Add them.
  5. Pare the story down to an outline with a clear beginning (may tie into the theme), several plot points or turning points in the middle, and a clear ending (that resolves the story) including the final line of your story. Don’t be afraid to get into the emotional meat of your story right away. The audience will always be very supportive so there’s no need to warm them up.
  6. Rehearse your story. Time yourself; trim the story as needed so it is 4½-5 minutes long. Please note that you will be cut off if you exceed the allotted time. Practice out loud until you can tell it without notes, props or cues in under 5 minutes. When you think you are ready, rehearse some more.
  7. Sign up for a chance to tell your story at least 15 minutes before the event.  Storytelling spots are limited and selected at random; if your name isn’t picked, please come to our next event!

How to prepare for “The Duo”

The Duo preparation is very similar to that which is done for The Solo, except that the two storytellers should select the story together.

  1. Think about shared experiences that the two have had that somehow relate to the theme.
  2. Pick an event where your experiences and/or your memories of the event are vivid and complement each other’s recollection.
  3. Prepare your story together and practice it a couple of times. Storytellers should alternate moving the story forward and both tellers should actively participate in telling the story together.

How to prepare for “The Rashomon”

Rashomon preparation is very similar to that which is done for The Solo, except that the two storytellers should select the story together.

  1. Think about shared experiences that the two have had that somehow relate to the theme.
  2. Pick an event where your experiences and/or your memories of the event differ somewhat.
  3. Then, each storyteller should prepare their story.
  4. Get together and practice your story a couple of times. In total, your Rashomon story can be up to 10 minutes long (but not over!).

How to prepare for “The Terkel”

Do you have a burning question that you’ve always wanted to ask someone you care about? Does it relate to the theme? Spring it on them during the Terkel.

Prepare yourself

  1. Select an interviewee that enjoys talking about their life.
  2. Choose an event or a period of time from your interviewee’s life.
  3. Think of several questions about the event, taking into consideration the theme.
  4. In addition to questions about who, what, where and when, make sure to have “why” and “how” questions that probe deeper.
  5. In total, your Terkel can be up to 10 minutes long.

Prepare the interviewee

  1. Let them know that their answers may involve personal disclosure – in fact, that’s what we want!
  2. Ask them to think about the event or period of time in preparation, but don’t reveal your best questions – we’re looking for some spontaneous reactions and answers.

During the interview

  1. While on stage, follow a story that emerges.
  2. Reel in your interviewee if they start rambling or straying from the interesting parts.
  3. Ask questions to clarify the details of the story if things get confusing.
  4. Help the interviewee to reflect on the story they are telling by asking follow up questions. For example: “What surprised you about the experience?”, “How did that make you feel?” or “Did the experience change you? How?”

Storytelling Guidelines

Everyone has a story and we can’t wait to hear yours! When choosing a story to share, keep in mind that Ex Fabula is a forum for true stories, not stand-up comedy, pontification, political diatribes, poetry or fiction. Please save those for other venues and bring us your great personal stories. We also do not allow props or notes, because we want your story to stand on its own.

Finally, please note that we may collect audio, video, or photos while stories are being told, so potential tellers are asked to sign a release form. Feel free to review it and let us know if you have questions: Ex Fabula release