“Our Little Secret”: Meet the Storytellers, Part 2

Here it is, our last secret! (For now.) As many of you know, this Saturday, January 28th, Ex Fabula travels to Alverno’s Pitman Theatre for the New Year Spectacular with the theme “Our Little Secret.” Unlike our monthly Slams, this special event features 10-minute curated stories and is an afternoon (yep, a 3 pm show) not to be missed.

We’ve built the anticipation as high as possible, so let’s meet the last three Spectacular Storytellers!

Continue reading ““Our Little Secret”: Meet the Storytellers, Part 2″


Recap: It’s Complicated

Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, male or female, there’s no better phrase than “it’s complicated” to describe the mixed emotions Americans have felt over the last couple of weeks. And while many emotions come into play – surprise,  frustration, and more – November’s “It’s Complicated” StorySlam reminded us that complications are part of our lives, for better and for worse.

Continue reading “Recap: It’s Complicated”


First Day Recap

The first day of anything – school, job, marriage, boob job – is bound to be full of nerves, excitement, fear, glee and surprises. The first day of Ex Fabula’s third season was no exception. Audience, storytellers and the Ex Fabula crew had opportunity for all these emotions at the Bay View Brew Haus, Tuesday, October 11.

It particularly appropriate to have first-time storytellers speaking on the night’s theme of “First Day.” Mark Steidl told of his first day of kindergarden, Josh B thrilled with a story of his first day as a high rise window washer and Jim Winship, who went on to win Audience Favorite, shared the story of the first day after his father’s funeral. Jim and his brother went to The Carter Family Fold to see some bluegrass music and were treated to a surprise guest: “My brother and I are sitting 40 feet from Johnny Cash and I know heaven is not that cool,” Jim said.

Mike Heider and Rose Delaney told of their first stressful days working in Milwaukee factories. Tom Dillon’s first day of Little League turned out to be his last. Dana Lovrek had emotional first night in her first apartment cuddling a stolen cat. Amie Losi’s first experience in combat theater was also the first time she dressed as Godzilla. And, Donte McFadden had to get up on stage to tell his story about his first day teaching a public speaking class because the Ultrashort  he tried to write about it was, well, too long.

Maybe you missed the First Day. Not everyone is an early adapter. That’s cool. Our next regular season event is Wednesday, Nov 16 at Stonefly Brewery.


Video Medley from Ex Fabula ALL STARS

For those of you who missed “Secrets and Lies” on June 2 at Turner Hall, here’s a video medley from our fine friends at High Frequency Media:


Recap of All Stars 2011

by Ex Fabula blogger Steph Kilen

photos by Kat Berger

We have a secret: our All-Stars event at Turner Hall was made extra fantastic because of a visit from famed actor John C. Reilly. Ok, that’s a lie. Well, at least the John C. Reilly part. And the part about it being a secret… it’s not, because we just posted it on the web, duh.) But the part about it being extra fantastic? 100% truth, baby. And that’s because it featured seven all-star storytellers  and Milwaukee historian John Gurda, and Milwaukee legend-in-the-making Tom Crawford.

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Mr. Gurda kicked off the night of “Secrets and Lies” with a brief, true history of Turner Society, the organization that gave Milwaukee its socialist mayors and an aspiration for “sound mind in a sound body.” He also answered the question on everyone’s mind: How many Germans can you fit into Turner Hall? (3000 if you’re wondering.)

Bob Murray, the first All Star to grace the stage, divulged the secret of the night he both lost his virginity and became someone’s one-night-stand in one, incredibly awkward, fell swoop. Bob may have lost the female vote when he stated that he had a hard time losing his virginity in the first place because “no girl wants to sleep with a guy who is skinnier than they are” (80%true) and “that’s a hard thing to overcome in Wisconsin” (not a lie, just ignorance, silly boy.)

Anja Notanja passionately gave the audience this advice, “If you are going to lie, lie all the way, lie with your heart” along with an illustration of how she did just that during her stint as a street psychic who received radio waves from space. Many wondered what the treat of her singing a song “in her native tongue” (LIE!) had to do with it, but no matter.

After an intermission, Scott Heaton kicked off the second round of stories with this secret: “When I slack, I do not fuck around.” His story of slacking on the job with Saz’s catering proved the statement to be the truth.

Amie Losi  shared a story of romantic relationships and the lies she tells herself and her well meaning mother along the way.

Then, Tom Crawford kicked off the new Ex Fabula storytelling series, “Terminal Milwaukee.” The series follows Tom through Milwaukee neighborhoods in which he has lived or worked. This first story, which took place outside his former residence in Bayview, featured neighborhood watch, “exotic fireworks” and vigilante justice gone awry. Told with the detail, heart and humor that has made Tom a favorite with the Ex Fabula crowd (and, you know, the centerpiece for the Terminal Milwaukee project), his story prompted at least one audience member to put him down as a write-in on the evening’s ballot.

Isaiah Rembert and Clifford Smith, whose November duo about “Neighbors” was selected as Audience Favorite, showed us both sides of lying while dating. Clifford – the lied to – agreed to meet a girl he met on the Internet, only to discover that she wasn’t the girl he had been talking to online, but her 16-year old sister who fled her dying mother’s bedside with stolen credit cards to meet him. Isaiah – he who lied – struggled with jealousy and an imaginary “ACLU lawyer” ex-girlfriend. Seems either side of lying in love is messy.

Finally, Brooke Maroldi, who has previously had audiences rolling with stories of being pulled over with torrents of snot coming out of her face and a priest who declared her soul in a “state of emergency,” chose to show her storytelling talent on the other end of the spectrum with a story where she poured out her heart and the family secret of her brother’s gambling addiction and the rift it caused between them.

After the audience voted, the trailer for Terminal Milwaukee was screened for the first time. For those who missed it, here is the online version of the trailer: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhHdS72T65M]

Once the ballots were counted, Amie won the right to wear the grungy Ex Fabula crown, as her story was selected Audience Favorite. Don’t lie; sorry you missed it, aren’t you? No worries, plenty more to come: Terminal Milwaukee continues Saturday July 23, Guerilla Story Slams will visit yet-to-be-disclosed locations throughout the summer and then, yes, we’ll be back for another season next fall. It ain’t no secret, so spread the word and share your story!


Storytellers for Ex Fabula ALL STARS announced

photos by Kat Berger.

our fabulous poster designed by dwellephant!


We’re thrilled to announce the line-up for the upcoming Ex Fabula ALL STARS event, which will take place at Turner Hall on Thursday, June 2nd, at 8 pm. This grand finale event of our second season will feature stories told by the ALL STARS – storytellers who were voted Audience Favorites at this season’s monthly events. Tickets are available for $10 at http://www.pabsttheater.org/show/exfabulaallstars .

The 2010-2011 ALL STARS are:

Brooke Maroldi (October, “Confessions”, www.ournextthing.com)
the Duo of Isaiah Rembert and Clifford Smith (November, “Neighbors”)
Bob Murray (January, “It Gets Better”, www.facebook.com/dateamerica)
Scott Heaton (February, “Valentine/Anti-Valentine”, ohscotty.tumblr.com)
Anja Notanja (March, “Emergency”, www.anjanotanja.com)
Amie Losi (April, “Theory & Practice”)

Each of the ALL STARS will share a new, ten-minute Solo or fifteen-minute Duo on the theme of “Secrets & Lies.”

The evening will also kick off “Terminal Milwaukee”, a seven-event series that will lead audiences through five distinctive neighborhoods of Milwaukee following the dynamic life story of Tom Crawford. Tom was a standout storyteller from Ex Fabula All Stars 2010 and is a self-described “terminal” Milwaukeean. As part of this kickoff, Tom will share a story on the theme of “Secrets & Lies”, Milwaukee Historian John Gurda will reveal some “secrets and lies” about our beloved Milwaukee, and the Terminal Milwaukee series video trailer will be screened for the first time.
“Terminal Milwaukee” is funded in part by a major grant award from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. The WHC receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin.


Recap of “Theory & Practice”

by Ex Fabula blogger Krista Lanphier

photos courtesy of Kat Berger.

Ex Fabula’s most recent storytelling event was held on Tuesday April 12th at the warm and inviting Bay View Brewhaus. The theme of the evening was “Theory and Practice,” and the event quickly became an example of storytelling theory in practice!

Paul Crowley, Grant Hagen, Amie Losi, Michael Heider, Rebecca Segal, Patrick Schmitz, Linda Muza,  Alicia Wahl and Kristia Wildflower had their names picked out of the hat, thus earning the chance to share a true tale on stage. In the end, it was an extremely close race for a chance to appear at the season finale event, Ex Fabula ALL STARS.

We were entertained by Paul’s story of his endless attempts to quit his job working for a Renaissance fair. Quitting should have been easy, but his boss who couldn’t take no for an answer.

Next came Grant – who talked about his and his wife’s memories of how they saw their first two daughters married off to wonderful men. He then went on to share the story of his third daughter who, while teaching English to monks in Nepal, decided upon an impromptu marriage to a local man.

Amie reminisced about her sunny beach days in her home state of California….and then shared how she moved to Wisconsin with her three children all under the age of 6, in the middle of heavy snow, to help her husband fulfill his dream. In the end, Amie dream of having someone to love and cherish her also came true in its own special way.

After reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road at the ripe age of 16, Michael ran off to New York City in search of a new, exciting life. He found himself shacked up in an apartment in Greenwich Village with no heat and a drunken owner. One day he wakes up to an Irish Setter taking a poo just 6 inches from his head, and decides immediately to find a way back to Milwaukee. He makes it, but only after many days “on the road” –which included getting arrested in Chicago.

Rebecca shared memories of studying in France along with a group of students that hailed from all over the world. On one sleepy night, an Irish student decides to stage a party at an abandoned factory. Rebecca was sure it was going to be a boring night, but after a night of drinking alcohol, jamming to music and running away from the police, it ended up being the party of her life.

Patrick then recounted the time he came into the big city for an audition and accidentally ended up at Art’s Performing Center instead of the Performing Arts Center; after an amusing encounter with the bouncer, Patrick eventually realized that Art’s was actually a strip club and made it to his real audition.

Linda told her angst-ridden story of how her only son out of 6 children, who grew up in a “world of women,”  decided to join the army. After he was stationed in Iraq, she is heartbroken by the irrevocable changes she sees in her beloved only son…and only wishes she could have him back, away from the “world of men.”

Alicia reminisced about how, as a technician for the Santa Fe Opera, she and her roommates couldn’t get any relief from a pestering neighbor until they devised a cop-proof strategy of living – and partying – that involved tie-dye, pajamas, pizza, root beer and muppets.

And finally, Kristia told of her story of how she had planned for months to attend a writer’s workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico, but after missing her flight, found herself making new friends at Chicago O’Hare over the course of 10 hours. She never made it to Mexico…but she did find new friends.

At the end of the night, the audience voted and selected Amie Losi as the evening’s Audience Favorite.

In theory, you’ve wanted to be at every Ex Fabula event this season, but we know that in practice, those intentions don’t always work out. But don’t fear! At Ex Fabula ALL STARS, you can hear new tales from the storytellers that were voted Audience Favorite as each event.  Ex Fabula ALL STARS will take place Thursday June 2nd, 8 pm at Turner Hall Ballroom. The appropriately mysterious theme will be  ‘Secrets & Lies’. Last year’s event was packed, so buy your tickets early!

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WATCH! Spectacular Video “Gifts”

Take a look at this medley of  ‘Gift’ stories that were told at Ex Fabula’s Spectacular event held at Turner Hall ballroom.   Some of Milwaukee’s best; Grant Hagen, Amie Losi, Dan Niederloh, Deaduri Gales, Emmett Gross, Cindy Grover and Lisa Gatewood.

This spectacular video was taped by Cole Quamme,  Ryan Reeve, Li Wang, Adam Presti.  Art Direction and editing performed by Adam Presti and Kara Mulrooney.

See you on Tuesday 1/11/11 at Stonefly Brewery for our ‘It Gets Better’ story slam.

Ex Fabula Spectacular Bits:


Recap of the December Spectacular!

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thanks to our blogger Stephanie Kilen!

An Ex Fabula audience is not easily fooled or deterred. We know the difference between rain and snow, so even winter horror stories from Minnesota could not keep the faithful away from Turner Hall on Saturday, December 11. After all, we were promised “gifts” – the theme for the storytelling spectacular.

While some audience members went home with Ex Fabula buttons, or stickers, or a buzz from the famous Turner Hall Tall Boys, only one lucky audience member went home with the memory of kicking off the show by sharing her story on stage. Molly McGrath’s name was pulled from the dapper, white top hat. She told of the year her 10-year old self wanted only “peace and quiet” from her three older brothers and received a jar filled with green water from one of them that was supposed to do the trick.

Amie Losi began the scheduled program with a story of a teacher who gave both Amie and her son, Alex a gift by appreciating, liking and encouraging the “cynical and jaded 5-year-old” that was Alex. Before the first break of the evening, Grant Hagen gave us the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a mall Santa based on his stint as the big guy at Capital Court in the 1970s.  While there was plenty to be not-so-jolly about, Grant had a twinkle in his eyes when he assured us that, “It’s not all Billy Bob Thornton when you’re Santa Claus.”

In between stories, host Leah Delaney read UltraShorts. Lest you think that UltraShorts are hot pants a la The Rockettes, UltraShorts are the one-to-two line stories submitted by audience members and read by the hosts – Megan McGee and Leah Delaney. There was no shortage of UltraShorts Saturday as there is obviously no shortage of odd and touching gift memories this time of year.

Back for Round 2, nurse Cindy Grover held the audience in touched silence as she told about the Christmas she had to give a badly burned, 5-year old boy a painful treatment. The pain the boy endured and the pain it brought Cindy to have to do it turned into a gift for both of them when weeks after being discharged, the boy returned, perfectly and beautifully healed, to thank Cindy for her care.

Frequent Ex Fabula contributor Dan Niederloh literally “looked a gift horse in the mouth” and indeed, ended up with a beloved old horse for him and his family. The horse got the gift of grass –instead of  glue factory- and Dan got one of those great “’Dad is a hero’ moments to be savored because they come along so seldomly.”

The audience was then treated to a story that couldn’t be touched by any Hallmark Christmas Special movie. Deaduri Gales told of her first Christmas after losing her mother and father within a year of each other.  A then 10-year old Deaduri went to live with her aunt and uncle and a cousin who became her “instant sister.” After some months of initial disagreements, Deaduri and her cousin bonded over finding the hidden presents and a visit from a “bilingual, tipsy” and not-so-well-disguised Santa.  While the girls knew it was their uncle, they, along with the rest of the family and even the elderly neighbors were “caught up in the magic” of Christmas and believed, right there on the front yard.

Having quickly returned to their seats, the audience was ready for the last two stories. Emmett Gross’ stories were not about gifts, but were offered up as gifts to the audience for use as their own, should they ever want to use them. A generous man, Emmett handed out three glowing tales of his own personal embarrassment: getting stuck in the baby swing at a park at 12-years old; randomly vomiting all over himself as a Junior in high school; and not-so-brilliant idea of giving the finger when featured on the hockey game Jumbotron.

Lisa Gatewood wrapped up the evening with the tale of her tangle with the Girl Scouts of America and a real desperate housewife. An under-privileged girl living in White Fish Bay, Lisa’s grandparents gave her the gift of Brownie handbook, Brownie sash and the fees to join. Thrilled to be aboard the “mother ship” of grade school social activities, she eventually realized that the troop leader was deliberately delaying her badge acquisitions thus preventing her from continuing on in the organization. Her one and only “Math Fun” badge, however, could not begin to serve her the way the life lessons she learned from the experience have.

It’s hard when you’re having fun on Christmas Eve to be told that you must go to bed in order for Santa to come. At the end of the night, all the stories were told but the audience lingered just a while, hoping to catch a little something more. Luckily, we need only wait a month for more gifts. See you January 11 at Stonefly Brewing Co.!


LISTEN! WMSE Radio Show: Spectacular Preview

The December Spectacular is this Saturday night at Turner Hall.

For anyone who missed Ex Fabula Radio on WMSE featuring stories from four of our Spectacular storytellers last week, we’ve posted the audio here for you to enjoy. Featuring stories from Cindy Grover, Emmett Gross, Lisa Gatewood and Amie Losi. Also telling at the Spectacular will be Dan Niederloh, Grant Hagen, Deaduri Gales and ONE randomly chosen volunteer storyteller from the audience! Click the link below to listen.

Ex Fabula WMSE Radio Spectacular Preview Dec 1, 2010:

Thank you to WMSE for production and recording of these stories.

A Turner Hall crowd for 2010 Ex Fabula All Stars
The crowd at Turner Hall in May 2010 at ALL STARS. Photo by Kat Berger.