Word of mouth

The art and value of live, personal storytelling

Among the many ways to tell a story, the most primal is aloud and face-to-face. And among the infinite stories that can be told, perhaps the most transformative are those that are personal, and true.

Since 2017, I’ve served on the Board of Directors for Ex Fabula, a Milwaukee nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening community bonds through the art of storytelling. At the center of our efforts is an annual series of StorySlam events, where audience members of any skill level are invited to take the stage and tell a 5-minute story on the night’s theme. The catch? The story must be true and must convey the teller’s own experiences.

The power of story to bring people together – even complete strangers – is undeniable. In the stories of others, we see our own strengths and faults reflected. We relate to events and emotions that remind us of our past. We recognize the common humanity that connects us despite our beautiful differences. And when we gather in the same room to hear one another’s stories, we forge new relationships based on that shared experience. We promote a culture of listening that reinforces the worth and dignity of everyone.

Oral storytelling is an ancient art that is alive and thriving in our modern communities.

In the spirit of sharing, here is a brief story of my own, recorded to promote an upcoming Ex Fabula StorySlam. While there’s no substitute for the energy of an open stage, a live mic and a packed house, I hope you still discover something in this brief video that resonates with you.

Beginner’s Luck “mini-story”

If you feel inspired, please check out Ex Fabula for yourself.

If you live in southeast Wisconsin or northern Illinois, join us for an upcoming storytelling event.

Or if you are far from the Midwest, you can still hear our stories through the Ex Fabula radio show, a partnership with WUWM, Milwaukee’s NPR.

Header photo by israel palacio on Unsplash