Trust me … you don’t want to miss this show!
What Is It?
During Combat Theatre participants create and perform six to eight new plays in 24 hours. Writers gather together on the Friday night before the performance at 7:30 pm and draw a location and a subject out of a hat, and the number of actors they need to write for, and then go away and write a ten to fifteen minute play overnight.
The writers return Saturday morning at 9:00 am with their completed scripts, along with all of the directors, writers, and tech staff, and the directors will then randomly draw which script they will direct, and randomly draw the actors that will perform the script. Then they block and memorize the show, find costumes and props they need, and have a 45 minute tech rehearsal to set light and sound cues.
There is a second rehearsal in the late afternoon with all of the shows running in the order they will perform, and then the performance that night. It is truly creating an evening of theatre in just 24 hours. Astounding!!!
When Is It?
And now we are bringing this incredible show to the WCT stage as a fundraiser for our theatre arts education program, the Academy at Civic Theatre. The show is this Saturday, August 26, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25, but the experience is priceless, and all proceeds go to an excellent cause. Don’t procrastinate … get your tickets now.
Why Do It?
I’ve had the pleasure of participating in Combat Theatre in downtown Milwaukee several times over the last few years, both as a director and as an actor, and it is truly one of the most amazing and unique theatrical experiences I’ve ever had. It is very challenging and rewarding. I am going to participate as a writer for the first time, and I’m TERRIFIED! I’m also EXHILARATED! I can’t wait, and I hope you can’t wait either.
Who Does This?!
Our “Combatants” include Maggie Arndt, Nick Bailey, Tara Cha, Tess Cinpinski, Elena Cramer, John Cramer, Mike Crowley, Alexa Farrell, Janice Ferguson, James Fletcher, Jennifer Fletcher, Tarolyn Fulkerson, Marisa Hernandez, Meghan Hopper, Matt Huebsch, Doug Jarecki, Jon Jones, Sophie Jones, Peter Kao, Stacy Kolafa, Amie Losi, Noah Maguire, Mina Miller, Andrea Moser, Karen Owecki, Chuck Padgett, Lee Piekarski, Cheryl Peterson, Beth Reichart, Sandra Renick, Amanda Satchell, Sharon Sohner, Veronica Somerfeld, Ashley Sprangers, Abigail Stein, Lauren Sutton, John Van Slyke, Kayla Tillisch, Hunter West, Adam Williams, and Karolyn Wokos.
I hope you can join us.
Managing Artistic Director
Officially, Ex Fabula’s mission is “strengthening community bonds through the art of storytelling,” and we’re excited to carry out our mission in collaboration with Waukesha Reads. Over the years, however, I’ve come up with a series of unofficial mission statements based on stories about things that have happened at our events.
The first unofficial mission, “Host local events where people tell personal stories,” dates to the beginnings of Ex Fabula. In 2009, I and four other twenty- and thirty-somethings kept having the same conversation over and over. For example, after Amy Schleicher and I attended a StorySlam while on a work trip, we kept talking about how someone should start a storytelling organization with a more Midwestern sensibility back. Then, Matt Sabljak and I expressed the same wish after chatting about stories that we heard on the podcast This American Life. At some point Matt and his friend Adam Weise had the same conversation, and then I met Leah Delaney and repeated it. Eventually, it occurred to us that perhaps we were the “someone,” so we scheduled a time to connect at Maharaja’s lunch buffet. 90 minutes after some of us met for the first time, we were planning an event and brainstorming names for our group; six weeks later, we hosted our first StorySlam.
Down the line, we became better at articulating the reasons that we loved personal stories, and thus was born another unofficial mission: “Connecting family, friends, neighbors and strangers.” For example, Amie Losi told a story in 2010 that touched on two big events in her life: her marriage and divorce. After hearing that story on Ex Fabula radio, Amie’s sister reached out to her to talk more about those incidents. At the time of the divorce, Amie’s sister didn’t really understand what Amie was going through, but the personal story opened her eyes and brought the two closer together.
A variation of that mission would be “Making strangers hug each other.” One of many examples comes from Yetunde Bronson, who described her experience at the Spectacular in December 2014 as “That incredible moment when you tell a story about suffering from PTSD, and two Vietnam veterans come up to you afterward, hug you and thank you for sharing your story.” Aww!
Taking that mission one step further and you get “Create a platform for healing and learning through personal stories.” Nakia Hood experienced the power of telling his story as an Ex Fabula Fellow, and the day after his first event, he emailed saying “You don’t know the healing from hurt that has taken place by me just talking about my issues”. I thanked him for sharing because his story, which focused on his experiences in school as a young Black boy, also taught me a lot; I grew up in very different circumstances from Nakia’s, and although I’ve read research and news articles about our education system, his personal story was way more powerful.
Of course, our Slams aren’t all serious, so another mission is “Entertain people through interactive live events.” We’ve heard stories about all sorts of hilarious situations: skinny dipping, dating mishaps, childhood mischief, mistaken identities, and more. The audience is so supportive when people get vulnerable on stage, and it’s really nice to laugh hard with a group of people. Just thinking about these stories makes me giggle a bit!
There’s one last informal mission that I want to share because you can play a part: “Help everyone in the Greater Milwaukee region to share a personal story.” We’re trying to accomplish this by partnering with groups like Waukesha Reads and by providing lots of ways for people to share, including the UltraShort, which can be done without getting onstage, and the Terkel, an interview format. To that end, please join us at the Waukesha Civic Theatre this Thursday November 3rd at 7 pm for a free StorySlam. You can come just to listen – no pressure, I promise – or, if you have a true personal story to share, you can throw your name in the hat and then take the stage. Either way, we hope that one of our missions – formal or informal – can enrich your life as it’s enriched my life and the lives of so many others in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Executive Director of Ex Fabula
Photo Credit: Kat Schleicher