Ex Fabula was born in October 2009 when the 5 founders – Adam Weise, Amy Schleicher, Leah Delaney, Matt Sabljak, and Megan McGee – met for lunch at Maharaja Restaurant and discussed starting a storytelling series in Milwaukee. We agreed that true, personal stories have a unique power to create connections between individuals, and we hoped to magnify that power through live events to provide meaningful local experiences. The fledgling organization was christened “Ex Fabula” – from the Latin for “from stories.”
Six weeks later, Ex Fabula debuted at Art Bar, where a crowd of 65 gathered to hear stories on the theme “Beginnings”. Increasingly large crowds caused us to seek larger venues and the enthusiastic embrace from the community showed that we had tapped into a strong need. In our first season, we hosted 7 storytelling events at 7 different locations across 5 distinct Milwaukee neighborhoods.
During our second season, our monthly event series alternated between Riverwest and BayView neighborhoods. We also introduced a new annual event, the Ex Fabula Spectacular; for this special noncompetitive event the Ex Fabula volunteers select individuals from past events who were not Audience Favorites but whose stories were especially compelling – and invite them to take the stage and share new, longer stories.
At the end of our second season we kicked off the Terminal Milwaukee project, a seven event series funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. This project lead audiences through five distinctive neighborhoods of Milwaukee and featured short tales from neighborhood residents, longer stories from self proclaimed “Terminal Milwaukeean” Tom Crawford, and historical vignettes from Milwaukee historian John Gurda. The project culminated in an event at Alverno College as part of the Alverno Presents series.
During our third season, we started a 6 month residency at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, which finished in October 2012, just before our fourth season. This residency allowed us to further develop our workshop curriculum and outreach offering as well as hold our first ever bilingual and Spanish language events.
In January 2014, midway through our fifth season, we hired our first full-time employee, Megan McGee, as Executive Director.