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Ex Fabula: American Song

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Milwaukee Repertory Theater
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Storyteller Dasha Kelly

As the city and much of the nation prepares for a weekend of celebration and remembrance of those who have served and those who continue to serve in the US Armed Forces, we’re featuring some very special stories from our April collaboration with Milwaukee Repertory Theater themed, "American Song."

On Tuesday April 5, an intimate crowd of about 115 was treated to true, personal stories and poetry inspired by themes explored in The Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s World Premiere Production of American Song. Megan McGee, Ex Fabula Director, took the helm preparing and reassuring the crowd throughout the evening as Storytellers tackled pieces inspired by concepts of anti-violence, parenting, and growing up in today's society. The event featured traditional storytelling and spoken word poetry, and included opportunities for public participation.

Milwaukee Poet, Writer and Storyteller extraordinaire, Dasha Kelly had no intention of having children. Why would you want to be responsible for the life of another human being’s therapy bills? Then she got pregnant. And her new biggest fear became, “What if I messed it up and didn’t give her the best foundation I could for the best life she could have?” So Dasha read and she learned: As she does. Then she lost that baby. Then she lost another one. Then finally, she welcomed a little baby girl into the world, a healthy little baby girl. What she wasn’t prepared for was this new fear—this fear of having a living child. Of every single threat that comes with parenthood, from sleeping in infancy to outlets in toddlerhood to predators in adolescence to worse…but so far, as Dasha says, they are doin’ okay. 

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Credit Milwaukee Repratory Theatre
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Storyteller Howard Davis III

From a young age, Howard Davis III, a participant in the twelve-week Storytelling Residency, was taught how to react if stopped by a police officer. One day in eighth grade, after spending the afternoon playing basketball, Howard and his friend rode their bikes to the closest convenience store to grab some snacks. After buying their munchies and loading their backpacks, the duo hopped their bikes and headed for home only to soon hear a siren behind them. The police stopped them because, “there were reports that there were kids making a disturbance in the neighborhood.” Howard was told to empty his backpack. He never told anyone. But it shook him. Until that time, while he had heard about the danger of getting pulled over by the police, he never thought it would happen to him. After that day, Howard understood why his parents always taught him to stop when a police officer called, to drop his bags, to show his hands and to never talk back. It was the first time he realized that America was freer for some than for others.

Ex Fabula extends gratitude to all of the men and women who have and continue to serve in the US Armed Forces.