by Nikeala Frederick
On Wednesday, February 13th, on the cusp of Valentine’s Day, the show theme Swipe Left pulled in stories all about love and dating, bringing a strong representation of male perspectives to the Rabbit Box stage.
Emcee, educator, poet, spoken-word artist, author, motivational speaker, therapist, and life coach extraordinaire Celeste Ngeve brought her fun personality and charisma to the stage, keeping the energy high in the room. She kept the crowd chuckling throughout the night between storytellers as she reacted to the vignettes in which audience members answered the question “What makes you want to swipe left?”
The first storyteller of the night, Robert Tucker — also charming — talked about his journey from a high school geek who didn’t have the highest self-esteem to a now-confident man. He reminded us and exemplifies the uplifting importance of staying positive despite rejection.
Dabriah Brown reflected on a blind date experience from her teenage years in which she immediately passed on a guy — not even stopping at a planned rendezvous — because he didn’t match his billing. Feeling obligated to try again for a friend’s sake, she later spent time at the mall with the boy on a double date. From this experience she learned the importance of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” and encouraged the audience to be open to getting to know someone before making the decision to pass on him or her based solely on the person’s looks.
After swiping right to a cute girl on a popular online dating site, Drew Boland told an intriguing story about how their first date went way left. Moral of the story: when a date tells you about themself, pay attention; don’t gloss over the red flags.
Now a self-aware, married man, Jack Walsh looks back on his early twenties, when he was single and oh-so awkward. He cringes — as did the audience — when recounting his behavior toward a woman he had a crush on but didn’t know how to approach — so instead came off as creepy.
Cracker Jack Surprise Nate Tomczyk’s story seemed to swing away from the theme but then brought home the message of giving new things a fair chance — whether experiences or people.
Ian Campbell kicked off his story by peppering it with references to other storytellers’ experiences. His story took place in the days before swiping — before cell phones were even a thing. His bizarre date with a beautiful stranger he met while getting an oil change started off so right but ended so wrong. The experience taught him a lifelong lesson on the importance of getting the proper help to come to a place of healing after trauma. And sometimes a savior arrives in an unusual vehicle.
Even though Eugene Willis, Jr., is now happily married with children, he did not always have it all together when it came to relationships. He recounted in stand-up comic fashion his evolution from a serial dater who didn’t really understand women to making the decision to get serious about love and to commit to the woman he would marry.
To close out the show, Shannon M. Turner told the audience about a Braves game in which the team redeemed itself in the last moments of the game — a thrilling finish her family missed when they left early. The experience gave her an epiphany about her love life. She had put dating on hold for several years but finally found the courage to put herself back in the game.