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.