Finding Your Voice on the Road

It’s those long drives with good friends that start great memories and even better stories. Road trips are some of our best memories and stories to tell, and the most interesting to listen to. Join us on October 19, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. to hear the best road trip stories, but in the meantime, see what they have to say here.

Continue reading “Finding Your Voice on the Road”


Box Office.

ALL STARS 2015 recap

It’s that time of year again when Ex Fabula concludes another great season with an ALL STARS show! On Wednesday, May 14th Ex Fabula’s ALL STARS show at Turner Hall Ballroom featured the Audience Favorite storytellers from the past season. This time, they told new tales on the theme “Nitty Gritty.” Continue reading “ALL STARS 2015 recap”


My Story: Meet the rest of the ALL STARS

Our ALL STARS event is almost here! On Wednesday the 13th, the Audience Favorite storytellers will take the stage at Turner Hall Ballroom. Last week, we introduced three tellers and our special guest. Today, we are introducing three more tellers. To help you get to know them, we asked them the question,Continue reading “My Story: Meet the rest of the ALL STARS”


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.


LISTEN! Ex Fabula WMSE Radio Show

Two more Ex Fabula Radio Shows are springing up, featuring stories from our last event at Stonefly with the theme of “Emergency!”  Storytellers will include Lauren Poppen, Brooke Maroldi, and Anja Notanja – that evening’s winner.

To catch these radio shows, tune into WMSE for lunch on Wednesday, April 6th, during the Milwaukee Midweek show airing at noon, or for breakfast on Sunday, April 10th, before Dewey’s Radio Show at 8:30am.

Also, don’t forget that the next Story Slam is coming up quickly: Tuesday, April 12th, at 8pm at the Bay View Brewhaus. You won’t want to miss stories on the theme “Theory & Practice.”


Recap of “Emergency!”

by Ex Fabula blogger Steph Kilen

photos courtesy of Art Montes

“Emergency” is a relative term – making it a perfect theme for March’s Ex Fabula event at Stonefly Brewery. Two first-time storytellers kicked off the night. Alicia Wahl told of an unfortunate night working back stage at an open-air opera theater in Santa Fe during monsoon season. Apparently it is tricky to keep large pieces of scenery from blowing away while assuring the lead soprano diva that the crew has no control over nature. Lauren Poppen was taking a leisurely hike in the woods with her boyfriend, when she twisted her ankle. Stuck in particularly rough terrain, it took not her boyfriend, not the park rangers nor the EMTs, but the whole fire department to get her out.

Kristia Wildflower’s decision to use the ladies room at bar time might have been a mistake; she came out to find everyone, including her husband, gone and the bar dark and locked. That’s a problem, but the real emergency came later when, still stuck at the bar, she received a call that her husband had been in an accident and might lose his leg.

Bob Murray, who won Audience Favorite earlier this season, told a story that could be titled “Panic at the Four-Plex” about a crazy night at his apartment involving his neighbors, looting of beer and ice cream, police at the door and a guy cheating on his girlfriend with her best friend. How was Bob supposed to get any sleep?

Sometimes you have to make up an emergency to get out of a situation. Luckily for Conn Hagen, he and his buddies “remembered” they had left a pizza in the oven upon realizing the woman he was about to go home with was a man.

Cindy Grover readies herself for whatever emergencies may come her way through “anticipatory disaster fantasy.” It came in particularly handy while she was a high-risk obstetrics nurse. Bud Dombro also spoke of life and death situations in his story about a “search and destroy mission that turned into an emergency evacuation.”

Another previous Audience Favorite winner, Brooke Maroldi, explained why, when she was in third grade, a old Irish priest told her “your soul is in a state of emergency!”

The final storyteller of the night was also the Audience Favorite. Not Anja didn’t have one big emergency, but spent a few months living in a state of several small emergencies. Along with an entertaining story, Not Anja shared her cure for getting rid of fleas: sing to them, move your bed around to confuse them and throw on some lavender and chamomile for good measure.

If an emergency of your own kept you from March’s Ex Fabula, you can recover by attending the next event on Tuesday April 12th at the Bay View Brewhaus.  The theme is “Theory and Practice”, and it’s your last chance to be crowned Audience Favorite and earn yourself a spot at the ALL STARS event in June. Be there by 7:45 to put your name in the hat for a shot to bring your story to the stage.

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Recap of November 9th event about “Neighbors”

by Rebecca Segal

“Won’t you please…

Won’t you please…

Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Wooooah, Sir! On second thought, you might want to retract that statement, Mr. Rogers, until you’ve checked out your potential new neighbors first.  Cuz you might get some of these guys:  A terrorist trick-or-treater, rowdy ex-cons with no respect for humanity, a potential baby-snatcher…or a bag of poop.  Just to name a few.

The latest Ex Fabula event took place at the Bay View Brew Haus in…you got it, Bay View.  The spacious bar/banquet hall was full to capacity (and then some) on Tuesday, November 9th, proving to be a brilliant turnout for this month’s storytelling theme, NEIGHBORS.

Bud Dombro started the evening off with the tale of how he acquired a horse from his neighbor and the extraordinary tale of how his neighbor became injured during a trail ride and had to save his own life. Rick Frecska made sure we all check ourselves when picking out Halloween costumes, because maybe dressing up as a terrorist while selling holiday cards or trick-or-treating in a predominantly Jewish Chicago neighborhood isn’t the wisest idea.  Greg Ryan and Brooke Maroldi attacked the Terkel for the evening, where we learned that even if your beautiful island experience is tainted by rowdy, drunken, screaming neighbors who were at one point arrested for assault and battery, “you can lose your Serenity…but you can get it back, too.”

Isaiah Rembert and Clifford Smith, our audience favorite of the evening, used the Rashomon method of storytelling to try and clear up for us (and for each other perhaps?) the details of Cliff’s mom’s birthday party.  Important details to take away: she’s a party girl, there was some bartender butt grabbing, there was a love square, and Isaiah did not in fact get to go home at the end of the night with the girl he wanted.  Cliff’s mom did.

Dan Niederloh, boys and girls, is the man you want to speak to if you ever need to stage a neighborhood drug coup.  Especially if this coup requires undercover cops and dark horse attack dogs.  Rebecca Segal recounted her unique French experience…of a somewhat unstable, nay, psychopathic upstairs neighbor flooding her apartment and the apartment below when she left the bathtub running during a drunken paranoid frenzy.  Merde.

Meghan Koven and Keri Kafka did a splendid job of keeping us at the edge of our seats regarding a house with a missing nursery…and ultimately a babysitting job with a missing baby.  Red Cross certification does not necessarily mean you will be hired back.

Kristia Wildflower’s upbringing of “Love thy neighbor unless…” did not stop her from seeking joy in neighbors who were part of that “unless.” And just as she “loved to dance and get down,” her daughter is teaching dance at a studio right on 64th and North—right where Father Groppi marched, and right where Kristia grew up and danced those many years ago.

Kelly Crandall had us all thinking of poop pranks and the unibomber when telling her story of a mystery package in a small town.  What could have been a terrorist bomb left on her front stoop turned out to be simply a little Halloween decoration bag with instructions to hang one of the decorations in your window and pass the bag on.  Once “reason punched fear in the throat,” she decided that the potential heart-attack was one tradition she would NOT be carrying on.

And that, boys and girls, is all.  Come back next time, and won’t you be my neighbor?

If you’re wondering when and where next time IS, get those pens on those agendas and mark off SATURDAY DECEMBER 11th, 8pm, for Ex Fabula’s holiday spectacula’ at Turner Hall. Get your tickets now at http://www.pabsttheater.org/show/exfabulaspectacular for the December Spectacular, with the appropriate theme of “Gifts.” The evening will feature new, longer stories from Ex Fabula veterans and a few special guests. We will have plenty of surprises on-hand, including a kick-off drawing that could propel one lucky audience member onstage to tell their story.  Quite the gift, eh?

See you on the flipside.  Or at Turner Hall.

-Ex Fabula

(More event photos are posted here. You can see them even if you’re not on Facebook. If you are, please consider joining our facebook group!)

Isaiah and Cliff share their winning Duo. Photo by Kat Berger.

LISTEN! Winning Story from “Confessions”

October’s Confessions event at Stonefly brought out a whole variety of confessions! Our next event is Tuesday Nov 9 at the Bay View Brew Haus for “Neighbors” starting at 8 pm – bring your best wacky neighbor story!

To hear Brooke Maroldi‘s Audience Favorite story, click below to listen:

Crowning the Audience favorite! Photo by Kat Berger.