Raina J. Johnson is a freelance writer in Milwaukee. She calls attention to the importance of preserving traditional storytelling and listening opportunities, especially in the politically divided, digitally connected world we live in.
Digital invitations, smart-phones and mobile applications changed the way we communicate with one other. But in the digital frame of the 21st century, a lot falls through the cracks of the World Wide Web, even when we have access in the palm of our hands. Particularly in this politically divided, digitally driven world, I’m learning that hope and optimism can be restored through opportunities to hear others’ stories.
I currently serve as a board member of Ex Fabula. Ex Fabula is Latin for “from stories.” Our mission is simple; we are committed to strengthening community bonds through the art of storytelling.
In a nutshell, we’re here to fill in the cracks from the web and build greater, lasting connections through opportunities for individuals to tell personal, true stories to an audience. Ex Fabula held its first slam with an audience of 65 people. Since 2009, over 18,000 people have experienced an Ex Fabula event in person, and almost 850 stories have been shared on stage.
Now in our eighth season, we’ve already had 31 first-time tellers on our stages.
At our monthly StorySlams, tellers are given five minutes to share a personal, true story related to the theme of the evening. Five minutes is more than enough time for an audience member to learn more about you, your beliefs and background — which is a great way to connect.
I remember attending my first StorySlam. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was on the edge of my seat the entire time — captivated by others’ willingness to share, their vulnerabilities — sharing funny and sad stories alike. Listening to other people with whom I probably would not have interacted has given me more insight — but, more importantly restored my hope and optimism for our city and for our country. Ex Fabula is what the world needs right now.
People want to be heard, and listened to. Ex Fabula is the perfect opportunity for that.
Our next StorySlam is our New Year Spectacular: “Our Little Secret,” Saturday, Jan. 28, at The Pitman Theatre at Alverno College, 3431 S. 39th St. in MIlwaukee. Doors open at 2 p.m., stories begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are just $12; no fees!
The Spectacular StorySlam is a special, non-competitive program of true and personal stories on the theme of “Our Little Secret.” It will feature community members who were selected by a jury of storytelling coaches and volunteers. Unlike our monthly events, where stories are limited to five minutes, these stories will be longer. Audience members can participate as well. We’ll be collecting the stories you wish to share in the form of UltraShorts, which are brief, true personal stories written on slips of paper, and then read onstage by our emcee.
Ex Fabula’s StorySlam is a great way to restore hope and optimism, unplug from the digital world and truly connect with others. We hope to see you Saturday.