Share your secrets at Ex Fabula

By - Oct 11th, 2010 04:00 am

Ex Fabula wants you to say it. Whatever “it” is, in five minutes on a microphone, to a room full of captive strangers.

Got a doozy? Get it ready. The 2010-11 season starts off by asking you to come clean — the local storytelling group’s season opener is curiously themed “Confessions.” Got something to get off your chest? Get there early, throw your name in the hat, and see if chance will have you rattling off the juicy details.

Modeled after New York City’s “The Moth,” Ex Fabula (Latin for “from stories”) has commandeered the art and spectacle of storytelling and created a local sport out of it since its inception just under one year ago. The events cover a range of subjects ( November’s theme is “Neighbors”) and take place monthly in various local establishments — in their first season, story slams were hosted everywhere from neighborhood taverns to the picturesque terrace at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Ex Fabula takes over the Bay View Brew Haus. Photos by Brian Jacobson.

There are three kinds of story telling at Ex Fabula : “The Solo,” in which individuals—some selected in advance, and some drawn at random from those who have sign up before the show—tell five-minute stories.

Next, there’s “The Rashomon.” In this format (named after Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s classic that explores multiple perspectives) two storytellers will tell their versions of the same story. Lastly,“The Terkel” is a question-and-answer interview format in the style of the beloved oral historian.

There are no notes allowed, and improvisation is strongly discouraged. Oh, and all of the stories shared must be true — as the group’s website states : “no ‘stand up’ comedy, pontification, political diatribes, poetry or fiction.” True stories do make for the most engaging tales, after all.

Nowadays, with so many means to obliquely “follow” others’ stories — from Facebook status updates, to unsavory tabloid headlines, to reality television’s endless iterations, to NPR’s quirky story core tales — there is a huge, vibrant market for personal narrative.

A woman shares at Ex Fabula’s “Show and Tell” event at MAM.

However, few mediums of capturing and conveying story combine the element of disclosure with an interactive performance. There will be facial expressions. There will be sweating. There will be oohs and aahs and probably some cringes from the audience.

In baring all on the microphone, if the storyteller is adept, the audience may even be inclined to (re)live the story along with the teller for those few minutes. That’s when the telling becomes an art, and when the stakes can’t get any higher.

Milwaukeens share their stories this Wednesday night with Ex Fabula at Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. Center Street, beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. Got a story to tell? Get your name on the list by 7:45 for a chance to participate.

Categories: Life & Leisure

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