Types of StorySlams
All our Slams feature true, personal stories related to the night’s a theme, told without props or notes. Some stories are told onstage by community members, and others are shared in the form of audience UltraShorts. Beyond that, there’s lots of variety.
Each year, we present between 7-10 of these ticketed, live storytelling events. At each event, any attendee can throw their name in the hat for the chance to share a true, personal story on the night’s theme in 5 minutes or less. Over the course of the night, 8-9 tellers take the stage. For competitive events, at the end of the night, the audience votes and an Audience Favorite is crowned; we also have noncompetitive events.
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.
Throughout the year, we work with community partners to present special StorySlams. Each event is unique!
These are intimate, members-only events that go behind the scenes of “quintessentially Milwaukee” institutions and businesses. Held several 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 to the right and consider signing up for one of our workshops.
Storytelling Formats and Tips to Prepare
Everyone has a story and we can’t wait to hear yours! Please keep in mind that Ex Fabula is a forum for true stories, not stand-up, 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.
Also, we may collect audio, video, or photos, so potential tellers sign a release form. Feel free to review it and contact us with questions.
Good news! This written format that allows you to share your story without leaving your seat and requires no advance preparation. 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 early and write clearly.
One storyteller, on stage. No props, no notes – just a true, story related to the theme.
- Pick a story that you love and reflect on it. Ask yourself: How did this experience change me?
- Identify the central change in your story. Focus on the moments that push the story forward; cut meandering tangents that don’t.
- Practice out loud and time yourself; trim the story to 4½-5 minutes long, as there’s a 5 minute limit.
Two person formats: “The Duo” and “The Rashomon”
The Duo is self explanatory; the Rashomon is named after Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s classic that explores multiple perspectives. Preparation is very similar to The Solo, except that the two storytellers should select the story together.
- Think about experiences that you’ve had together related to the theme.
- For a Duo, pick an event where your memories of the event are vivid and complement each other’s recollection. For a Rashomon, pick an event where your experiences and/or memories differ somewhat.
- Prepare your story (or your version of it). Storytellers should alternate moving the story forward and both tellers should actively participate in telling. In the case of the Rashomon, you could just have one person tell and then the other person tell their version – or you could jump back and forth. Play with it and find a rhythm!
- Practice a couple of times and ensure you can tell the story in 10 minutes or less – while sharing the time with each other.
Have a burning question that you’ve always wanted to ask someone you care about? Does it relate to the theme? Ask it using this interview format named for Studs Terkel.
- Select an interviewee and choose an event or a period of time from your interviewee’s life.
- Think of several questions, taking into consideration the theme. In addition to who, what, where and when, make sure to have “why” and “how” questions that probe deeper.
- Ask the potential interviewee if they’re willing to get real on stage with you. If they agree, ask them to think about the event or period of time, but don’t reveal your best questions – we’re looking for spontaneous reactions and answers.
- While on stage, follow a story that emerges. Reel in your interviewee if they start rambling. Ask questions to clarify if things get confusing. Help the interviewee to reflect by asking follow up questions like “What surprised you about the experience?”, “How did that make you feel?” or “Did the experience change you? How?” And of course, watch the time so that you can wrap things up before the 10 minute time limit.