Out on a Limb Recap

16 Apr


Life is a precarious balancing act that often requires making big gestures, taking risks and going out of your way to reach someone else or to save yourself: you can call these efforts “going out on a limb.” On April 9, Rabbit Box reconvened at Sandy Creek Park where seven storytellers provided their own personal take on the theme “Out on a Limb.” Roger Stahl was the MC for the evening, introducing these varied, entertaining and occasionally sad stories.

Alex White told a story of a hiking trip when he was a Boy Scout in Florida. He and his father found a camera hanging on the limb of an oak tree and captured a moment that ended up becoming a special Christmas surprise.

Jim Ford took to the stage asserting that “any boat that floats can go under.” His story detailed his adventures as a vagabond living off a skiff in a fishing boat community. One particular boating trip took him to a lagoon surveying whales during mating season, where he explains an unfortunate encounter with a 40-ton whale.

Brittany Barnes described a time she took a dive into more adventurous, er, sustainable eating. Her story offered advice from the time she scouted out the finest meal on the streets: road kill. She walked us through the basics of finding a fresh deer and ways to prepare and cook it. And hey, if farm-to-table’s not immediate enough for you, road-to-table findings, as Barnes reminds us, are organic, local, fresh and antibiotic-free.

Scott Shamp told a story of connection in spite of racial differences. Rooted in the South, Shamp’s story involved him as a boy, and his grandfather, the day they were engaged in a surprising exchange with an African-American man. (I won’t say that I teared up a little, because I’m certain it was just dust in my eye.)

Shamp’s story closed off the first half the intermission, which rolled on longer than usual since people were fully immersed in the gentle process of making s’mores. Darkness was falling and fireflies were flickering, so it seemed more than appropriate to grab a stick, a marshmallow (or several) and gather ‘round the fire.

After the intermission, Roger Stahl announced the storyteller for the Crackerjack, a story by a volunteer from the audience, which he noted is “unpracticed and straight from the hip,” but usually very good.

He selected first-time Rabbit Box attendee Andy Slagle, who was no exception. Slagle found himself alone in Rome the week the Pope died, lost among thousands when his tour group left him behind. A story that conjures the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” it describes Slagle’s Olympic effort to return to his hotel, equipped with only a few words of entry-level Spanish and a will to go the distance.

The second half kicked off with long-time Rabbit Box collaborator and photographer David Noah. When he took the mic, he delivered a story about his shy 16-year old self and the day he skirted the top edge of the local water tower with his teenage crush–an assertive poet named Terry–for a game of “chicken.” He describes the self-revelations they made in the moments when they felt close to death and how these moments continued to connect them after they grew apart.

Bert Parks followed soon after with a story of his first night as a soldier in Fort Jackson, an environment he said at first felt like a jail. The prison-like feeling certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that Parks, exhausted from a day of work, found himself caught up in a fight with a loud-mouthed soldier who just wouldn’t go to sleep. Parks settled the matter in the most diplomatic way he could figure out.

The last storyteller to take the stage was our only non-Athenian of the bunch, Greyson Morris, who lives in Asheville. Her story was a hilarious, but poignant Odyssey of finding jobs, losing jobs and sustaining the will to carry on and survive through it all.

To hear these stories and more, click here.

*Thanks to Amy Moss for Photographing the event, and Lori Keong for writing the blog post.


RB22 Audiocast: Out on a Limb

16 Apr


*To listen on your mobile device, download the MixCloud application on your iPhone or Android device. Then search for “RabbitBox”!

Dirty Work Recap

15 Mar


On March 12, we heard stories on the theme “Dirty Work,” a theme that unearthed some rich material. Nearly 200 people came to hear the stories at the Melting Point — an outstanding turnout, especially considering that it was the week of Spring Break. It was a fabulous show, with a great diversity of stories, including some extremely funny ones. Roger Stahl was our MC.

Ophelia Culpepper, with an inimitable straight face, told about a period of creative problem-solving in a new apartment with no functioning toilet. With the help of “outside consultants” she manages to make do until maintenance arrives.

Ashley Barnes regaled us with a lively account of her adventures in Latin America as a photographer and lover of Buenos Aires (and beautiful Argentine men).

Robert Alan Black took the stage to describe the Kafkaesque adventure he went through to fly from Atlanta to Indonesia. While awaiting the appropriate paperwork and his two, red bags, he decides to follow the dictum, “If you think you’ll laugh about something in the future, you might as well start now.”

Once Joe Willey had his boots, gloves, and hard hat, he was ready to get to work on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. After an hour-long helicopter ride over the sea, he was in that place that, even on the calmest day, “was never peaceful.”

Our Crackerjack storyteller, whose name was drawn at random after intermission, was Sara Callaway. As one of the cooks on an extended UGA field trip, she told of how she was put in charge when someone decided it would be a good idea for the students to have the experience of butchering a buffalo on the plains of Montana.

Stella Zine was on tour with Southern Riot Grrrl/Queercore band, Pagan Holiday, when they were approached by a big-time rock-n-roll producer who had a special kind of trade in mind. “Dirt is relative,” she says.

David Bloyer was bringing his beloved Rottweiler dogs back from the vet when he decided to make a stop at the Athens-Clarke County sewage treatment plant where he works. He let his dogs run around on the grounds, but his boss was fastidious about keeping the grass immaculate.

Rae Sikora was on an airplane when she noticed the woman next to her staring at her dirty feet; she’d jumped aboard straight from her garden. “Are you staring at my feet?” she asked. “Yes, I am,” said the “sparkly, clean” woman next to her. Rae talked about the dirty, physical work she likes to do but also the “clean” work of challenging people to “align their values with their life choices.”

From Annie Prenni, who is a volunteer at Bear Hollow Zoo in Athens, we heard about the (one and only) time she fed the birds of prey. “Watch out for the great horned owls,” her supervisor told her. “Always move slowly and look them in the eyes.”

You can hear all the stories from “Dirty Work” here. We hope you enjoy them!


RB21 Audiocast: Dirty Work

15 Mar


*To listen on your mobile device, download the MixCloud application on your iPhone or Android device. Then search for “RabbitBox”!

Silver Box 2014 Kickoff Meeting: Saturday, March 15th

11 Mar

We’re seeking storytellers for our second-annual Silver Box show, “My Life in Black and White.” This show will feature elder storytellers, age 65 and older, telling personal stories about an incident or time in their lives when race mattered—in the past or more recently—such as a story about participating in the Civil Rights movement, awakening to racism, feeling a sense of belonging, or speaking about any one of a range of experiences that has left a vivid memory. The goal for the show is for most of the stories to be about experiences that took place in Athens or nearby.

If you think you may have a story to tell, we invite you to attend an introductory meeting this Saturday, March 15th from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Athens in the Staff Conference Room. The church is located in downtown Athens, next to the Post Office.

To help people develop their stories, a series of free workshops will be offered, as well as individual coaching. The performance of Silver Box: “My Life in Black and White,” will take place on Wednesday, May 14th at The Melting Point starting at 7:00 p.m.

Prefer to tell a story in a smaller setting? Another Silver Box show, this one in the afternoon, will be presented to a smaller audience at the Athens Community Council on Aging, date and time to be announced.

Also, for storytellers who may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a live audience, the University of Georgia Russell Library has a First Person Project that can record stories in a one-on-one interview format. The First Person Project aims to document the lives of everyday Georgians, based on the belief that everyone has been an eyewitness to history, and, with a little encouragement, has a story to tell. First Person Project stories could also be developed during the workshops for Silver Box.

For this Saturday’s meeting, free street-level parking is available in back of the First Presbyterian Church of Athens at 170 Dougherty Street, and there is a parking garage off College Avenue, between Dougherty Street and Hancock Avenue. Look for signs for parking and the location of the meeting room.
For more information, please contact Mary Whitehead at whitehead888@att.net.

Duets Recap

7 Mar

For the second year in a row, Rabbit Box had a “Duets” show in February. The only “theme” was that any two people get up and tell any kind of story together. It’s interesting, and often funny, to watch how the duos play off of each other. This year we had seven pairs perform, with Roger Stahl & Kate Morrissey doing double duty as MC’s.

Pat & Neal Priest kicked the night off with a story of confusion and deception, telling of how con artists in Prague took advantage of the kindness and naiveté of these two helpful Americans.

A very expectant couple, Tanya and Micah Hudson, next told of how, after false attempts at being set up, waffling, procrastinating and finally meeting each other in a grimy bar, these two laid eyes on each other and knew that “this was the one.”

As Weston and Virginia Baumgartner were getting ready to welcome their baby into the world, Ginny decided she wanted to adopt an extremely high-needs basset hound into their family, despite the fact that she knew from experience that “basset hounds are like the bad boyfriends” of canines.

Crackerjack storytellers Lorraine and Max (mother and son) described a scene of taking a camel ride behind the pyramids in Egypt, when Lorraine’s camel decided to take off. “My mom got a speedy camel,” commented Max.

Dr. Larry and Mrs. Alzena Johnson shared the convoluted story of how they came to be teaching at the same middle school and then serendipitously thrown together in matching brown corduroy outfits.

Rube Yen and Ellen Kohl traveled the world before they had children. They never wanted to do the typical tourist things; they liked to take the roads less traveled… after a long trek on the Great Wall of China they realized it’s not always so bad to be part of the tour.

Jill Swenson and Bill Brown were married, then divorced, then explored the dating scene in Atlanta, then married again… not all with each other.

To hear these stories and more click here.

RB20 Audiocast: Duets

27 Feb


*To listen on your mobile device, download the MixCloud application on your iPhone or Android device. Then search for “RabbitBox”!

Rabbit Box receives challenge grant from Seventh Son Fund for digital video recording services

12 Feb

Rabbit Box receives challenge grant from Seventh Son Fund for digital video recording services

Athens, Georgia:  Rabbit Box has been awarded a challenge grant from the Seventh Son Fund at the Athens Area Community Foundation to make digital video recordings of the monthly Rabbit Box storytelling performances. A local audio/video recording professional will edit for viewing and downloading from online media outlets such as iTunes and YouTube.

Upon being accepted under the fiscal sponsorship of the Athens Area Arts Council (AAAC) in late 2013, Rabbit Box began seeking funding for the purpose of making digital video recordings of storytelling performances widely available. The Seventh Son Fund and the Athens Area Community Foundation have chosen to support this effort through a challenge grant. In addition to the awarded funding, the Seventh Son Fund will match every dollar raised to pay for audio-video recording and editing services, up to $1,000.

“Rabbit Box is delighted to be the beneficiary of this challenge grant from Seventh Son Fund,” says Rabbit Box director and founder Marci White. “We have so many amazing storytellers take the Rabbit Box stage to share their important and engaging stories, and we’re making progress on utilizing technology to make it possible for more people to enjoy hearing them.”

“Fostering the art of storytelling and creating community, one story at a time,” is the mission of Rabbit Box (www.rabbitbox.org), an Athens-based storytelling initiative that began in May 2012. The primary purpose of the Rabbit Box collaborative is to hold a monthly storytelling event wherein eight storytellers each have eight minutes to perform a true life story on a predetermined theme. These events are usually held at The Melting Point, with occasional departures in venue for special shows.

Rabbit Box believes that the art of storytelling strengthens the sense of local identity in Athens, enabling us to discover commonalities across socially constructed boundaries. Much of the effort involved in making Rabbit Box happen each month comes from a dedicated group of volunteers. The Rabbit Box collaborative is accepting donations to support outreach initiatives and fund the facilitation of storytelling workshops. For more information on how you can contribute to these efforts, contact Nina Kelly at nina@rabbitbox.org.

RB19 Audiocast: The Year is Young

30 Jan

The Year is young


*To listen on your mobile device, download the MixCloud application on your iPhone or Android device. Then search for “RabbitBox”!

Monday, February 24th Show – Duets

22 Jan


Two people tell one story together on any topic. (And we still have a few openings for dynamic duos to sign up – send an email to marci@rabbitbox.org)


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