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Spectacular RECAP

Ex Fabula’s Spectacular show at Turner Hall Ballroom featured veteran storytellers sharing various tales of Bad Company. Megan McGee and Dasha Kelly shared emcee duties for the evening, delighting the crowd with their charms and sharing some fun facts about our storytellers. Continue reading “Spectacular RECAP”

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.


WATCH! Spectacular Video “Gifts” Cindy Grover

In case you missed Ex Fabula’s December Spectacular…

Take a few minutes out to watch  Cindy Grover’s story about receiving a ‘gift’  from a young child,  while she was  working as a young nurse.

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

See you on Tuesday 1/11/11, at Stonefly Brewery, when the theme will be ‘It Gets Better’.

Cindy Grover’s GIFTS story:

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!


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.



Recap of October 13 event, “Confessions”

by Erick McGinley

After a summer of smaller events, Ex Fabula’s kicked off their 2010-2011 season with an event at the Stonefly Brewing Company; the theme was  “Confessions.”  Stories and ultra shorts included confessions of lying, vandalism, sex and intimacy (and the lack of), embarrassment, nicknames, and even secret identities.  As Adam Carr indicated in his story about his lifelong pattern of stress eating, everyone has something to confess.  And while no one can argue that fact, it is something else entirely to stand in front of a microphone and a crowd of people to tell otherwise silent secrets.

Jean-Andrew boldly confessed her passion for dumpster diving, going on to explain that she works nights as a superhero saving raccoons.  Following her, Bud Dom Bro confessed to the audience a very different passion related to animals in small places as he demonstrated how he traps and exterminates chipmunks.  Rebecca Segal confessed that until the age of 10, she was convinced that Wyoming was a country in Asia.  Cindy Grover told of her love of lying brought on by a trip to the Bahamas that stayed very economical due to her “storytelling” abilities.  Later, Dasha Kelly told of how she found and lost athletic stardom as she moved from high school to college, regretting that she never asked for help when she needed it.  Clyde Winter also shared regrets from a season spent in the Gulf of Alaska.  After a fishing trip that nearly ended in tragedy, he realized he had never thanked the man responsible for saving his life.

Showcasing the storytelling form called “the Du0,” Dan Niederloh and Dana Lovrek brought us back through an evening they shared together as they were just meeting.  Their story was innocent enough, even though Dan had set up their first evening out as a 15th Anniversary celebration at the Sybaris; also read, “sex motel.”  Picked as audience award winner, Brooke Maroldi recounted how during her childhood, she earned a lifetime ban from the Lifesaver Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.  Later, as a film professional, Brooke worked for the Lifesavers company.  To a boardroom of almost all older men, Brooke told them, “Guys…I have a confession.”  Thankfully for her, they responded that the ban had been lifted.

If you’re looking for more Ex Fabula and storytelling fun, the next events are right around the corner.  On Tuesday, November 9th, Ex Fabula returns to the Bay View Brewhaus for an event with the theme of “Neighbors”. Then on Thursday, November 11th, Ex Fabula will be at a Still Waters Collective event, the ninth “Verbatim: the Power of Speech.”  For more information, see http://www.stillwaterscollective.com.  See you in November!


LISTEN! Cindy Grover “What, me worry?” story at Ex Fabula 6

Cindy Grover shared a fun story about a bus trip gone slightly awry on the theme “Stranger in a Strange Land” April 13, 2010 at Stonefly Brewery.

Cindy Grover at a turning point in her story – photo by Kat Berger

Recap of Ex Fabula6 at Stonefly

Audience at Stonefly (photo by Kat Berger)

The last regular event of Ex Fabula’s inaugural season took place on Tuesday April 13 at Stonefly Brewing Company. 150 people packed the house for true, personal stories on the theme “Stranger in a Strange Land“. The event was sponsored by 91.7 WMSE and 89.7 WUWM. Interspersed with the nine stories, emcee Matt Sabljak read Ultra-Shorts written by audience members during the course of the 2-hour event.

Lane Burns (photo by Kat Berger)

The first storyteller drawn from the hat was Ex Fabula veteran Dan Niederloh; his tale of escape from clinical depression featured a therapist that looked like Pete Townsend of “The Who”. Next, Lane Burns took the stage and shared her own tale of escape- in this case, from a layover in an airport in South Korea. Unable to pay the “Korean currency only” airport tax and unable to contact anyone outside the airport, Lane was saved by the kindness of strangers. Then, sisters Laura Halfmann and Stephanie Halfmann debuted “The Duo”, a new format in which two people tell a single story about a shared experience. Their story of a long journey hiking up a mountain included a sketchy tour guide, a monkey attack, the “click, trudge, trudge” known as the Halfmann trudge, and many other memorable moments.

Conn Hagen (photo by Kat Berger)

After a beer break, the audience was treated to 3 more Solo stories by audience volunteers. Conn Hagen’s story highlighted how a simple sandwich pick-up can turn into a complex circus. Then, Richard Newman told of his travels in Europe while part of a theatre group; to summarize, he does not recommend Air Italia, their fish brothy coffee, or their baggage handling services- unless you are a puppet looking to rack up some miles. Liza Bielby wrapped up the trio of Solos by recounting the time she spent in China, studying a traditional form of opera. When a Chinese man asked for her help as an interpreter, little did she know that she would accidentally become part of a failed attempt to scam some investors from Texas.

Cindy Grover (photo by Kat Berger)

The last person drawn from the hat was Jeanie Dean, whose Solo focused on her brief journey into a world of violence and addiction; as a shooting was about to happen, Jeanie told herself that “this will not happen in my presence” and eventually found herself being a human shield. Then, Cindy Grover told of a mishap in Costa Rica, where “I need bus. You go fast.” in broken Spanish was sufficient to get her back on track; “reunited with my luggage and it feels so good,” she quipped. Finally, Melissa Kingston, a member of the comedy troupe Broadminded, and her brother’s wife Kerri Ladu took the stage for the Terkel, an interview format. Melissa asked her sister-in-law what it was like to join her loud, liberal family after growing up in a quiet, conservative family that didn’t even go to movies. “My mom made June Cleaver look like Sharon Osborne,” Kerri mentioned. Over time, she’s no longer shocked by the loud passionate arguments and she loves the family’s honesty and openness.

At the end of the night, storytellers who had thrown their names in the hat but did not get to tell a story had a moment to come up on stage and share the first line of their stories; there were hints of many more fascinating tales, and we hope to hear those stories at future events.

To round out the evening, the audience members voted, and Laura and Stephanie Halfmann were selected as the Audience Favorite storytellers. In being selected, the sisters have earned a spot at Ex Fabula ALL STARS which takes place Friday May 14 at Turner Hall. The night’s theme is “Epic Fail” and will feature new, longer stories from all the Ex Fabula Audience Favorites. $10 tickets can be purchased here.

Laura and Stephanie Halfmann being crowned (photo by Kat Berger)

More photos from this event can be found on the Ex Fabula facebook page.