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.!

Announcing The Final Four!

Last week, in order to break the unbearable tension leading up to our December Spectacular on this Saturday at Turner Hall, we announced four of the storytellers. For those still waiting with half-bated breath, here are the remaining four storytellers:

Dan Niederloh
Dan has always loved cooking, traveling and connecting with people. He draws from a rich journal of experiences, including cheffing in London, hitchhiking through Europe and raising a family in Hawaii, for his storytelling inspiration.

Grant Hagen
Grant is a proud cheesehead who collects hats. He’s been married for 27 wonderful years and has 3 daughters, 2 Bob’s (son-in-laws) and 3 grandkids.

Deaduri Gales
Deaduri is a business development consultant who moonlights as a playwright (”M,” a collection of Mothers) and documentary production manager (”Mark My Words”). She also serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Stillwaters Collective/Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards Competition.

Scheduled as the first performer of the night, this storyteller was born and raised in Milwaukee after moving here in high school. Their stories are largely inspired by their Indiana Jones-esque travel adventures, as well as their regular ol’ everyman/everywoman experiences. Their LinkedIn profile suggests a recent job history as varied as short-order cook and daytrader—as well as no job experience whatsoever. This storyteller will be randomly selected from audience volunteers before the show, which made writing this profile challenging. THIS STORYTELLER COULD BE YOU!

In keeping with our popular tradition, the night will also feature Ultrashort Stories from the audience.

$10 tickets are available at and at the Pabst Theatre box office. The doors will open at 7 pm and seating is general admission.

Confessions from…The Sybaris – Video

Dan Niederloh and Dana Lovrek had this Confession to share our Season 2 Kickoff event held on Oct 13, 2010 at Stonefly Brewery.

High Frequency Media made an abridged version for us to share with you on video:

High Frequency Media


Verbatim, Tellebration, and the December Spectacular


A shout out to all the artists who shared their words at Verbatim, a fabulous event put on by the Still Waters Collective on Thursday November 11. Thanks to Dan Niederloh and Lisa Gatewood who represented Ex Fabula at the event! We’re looking forward to the next event- we’ll be sure to post details so you can check it out!

Tellebration! 2010

We hope you’ll check out this event put on by Milwaukee Area Story Tellers (M.A.S.T.) , a local storytelling group based out of Mount Mary College. Emmett Gross will be representing Ex Fabula at that event. Details:

Saturday Nov. 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm
Mount Mary College , Milwaukee
$ 5.00 at the door
92ND and Burleigh – enter parking lot off of 92nd St. (a.k.a. Swan Blvd ).
Follow the sidewalk to the central archway and turn left into the building. Well-lit parking lot; security; handicap accessible; greeters to direct you. Questions?  Call 414-962-4425

TELLABRATION is a worldwide storytelling event coordinated by the National Storytelling Network and produced locally.  It celebrates the art of storytelling and links storytelling enthusiasts on the same weekend around the globe.  Storytellers well-versed in the art of relating stories by heart will present their best tales for adults. They have been hosting this event since 1990!


And last but not least, get ready for the December Spectacular!

Ex Fabula invites you to Turner Hall on Saturday December 11 at 8 pm for the December Spectacular, a night of true stories told by fellow Milwaukeeans on the theme of “Gifts”. This is a special non-competitive event that will feature new, longer form stories from a slate of proven storytellers. This storyteller lineup will feature some storytellers who have shared particularly compelling stories at previous Ex Fabula events and some special guests.

In keeping with the spirit of our regular season monthly events, which will resume in January, one ten minute storytelling slot will be available to the audience volunteers who put their names in the hat that evening. That lucky randomly selected storyteller will kick off the evening with a story about “Gifts”. The night will feature Ultrashort Stories from the audience and some other surprises.

This event is expected to fill up quickly, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. $10 tickets are available at and at the Pabst Theatre box office. The doors will open at 7 pm and seating is general admission.

Ex Fabula was formed in Milwaukee in 2009 with the purpose of connecting storytellers with live audiences on a regular basis. For more information about Ex Fabula events past, present and future, go to All stories told at Ex Fabula events are true, personal, related to a theme and told without notes. Ex Fabula is proud to be sponsored by 91.7 WMSE and 89.7 WUWM.

Frequently Asked Questions about the December Spectacular:
Q: Can I tell a story at this event?
A: There will be one coveted 10 minute storytelling spot available to audience members. We encourage you to prepare a story and put your name in the hat. One person will be chosen and we hope you will be the lucky one who joins the other predetermined storytellers on stage. If your name is not called, we hope you will join us at our regular season events which resume in January and most storytelling spots are available to randomly selected audience volunteers.


Q: How long should the story be?
A: Stories should be 8 to 10 minutes long. There is a timekeeper to help storytellers pace themselves. Be sure not to run over 10 minutes, as we are keeping time and we do not want to have to cut you off.

Q: How do I prepare?
A: We suggest that you know the first line, the last line and 5 to 7 plot points of your story and that you practice telling your story to friends, family, and anyone who will listen. There are more details in the storytelling guidelines.

Q: Can I bring a gift to talk about?
A: Sorry, this is not a show and tell event. No notes, no props – just a story, the stage, and you.

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 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.

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  See you in November!


LISTEN! Ex Fabula 6: Dan Niederloh – Stranger in a Strange Land Modern Times Version

Ex Fabula Regular Dan Niederloh told a very close to home Stranger story on April 13, 2010 at Ex Fabula 6, held at Stonefly Brewery.


Dan Niederloh at Stonefly – 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.

Audio – Now or Never – Dan Niederloh

Listen to Dan Niederloh’s Story from Ex Fabula 4:

Dan describes his “now or never” moment(s) leading up to the birth of his first child. Endearing, raw and entertaining, this is what Ex Fabula is all about.