Oct 12th Stranger in a Strange Land – Immigration Stories

Join us October 12th from 7 PM to 9 PM at Sandy Creek Park for stories of immigration to the United States from around the world. Rain or shine we will have a crackling fire and stories that range anywhere from tales of heartfelt redemption, to tales of getting smuggled out of the war-torn Middle East. These first hand accounts will give listeners an appreciation for the difficulties immigrants have faced in their move to Athens, GA.

The weather Wed. night is supposed to be clear and cool with a low of 49 degrees, so dress warmly! Some reminders: 

– Stories will begin at 7 pm. However, you may want to plan to get there early to ensure you have a place to park and get a good seat. 

– Sandy Creek Park is located at 400 Bob Holman Road, Athens, GA 30607.

– At the gate, an attendant will collect a $2 per person park entry fee and will direct you to the park’s Fire Circle. (Folks 65 and over can enter the park for free!)

– Although there is some bench seating, people often choose to bring easy-to-carry camp chairs, blankets, and/or cushions. 

– Bring a flashlight! It will be dark when you leave.

– Bring snacks and drinks if you’d like–but remember the park does not allow alcoholic beverages.

– The show will happen rain or shine – there is a covered, alternate venue at Sandy Creek Park in case of rain.

All Creatures Great and Small May 11th!

Join us on Wednesday, May 11th, at The Foundry for tales on the theme All Creatures Great and Small! Listen to Naturalist Tommy Tye, Executive Director of Wild Intellegence Sarah Hubbard and others as they share their triumphs and tragedies, reminding us what it is like to watch nature unfold.
Doors at The Foundry open at 5:00 PM for dinner, and the show starts at 7 PM or a little after. The show ends by 9 – 9:15.

Our emcee is Sean Polite

Storytellers include:

Tommy Tye

Thomas Guillebeau 

Loren Hansen

Rachel LoPilato

Sarah Hubbard

Lynsey Jackson

Mel Cochran Davis

Put your name in the box and you could be our Crackerjack storyteller at the end of intermission!

Rabbit Box is for adults.

Rabbit Box Story Teasers: Black Like Me

Black Like Me: A Collaboration with Chess and Community

By Melissa Harward

As community leader Life the Griot puts it, there are about 130,000 people living in Athens, and that gives each of us 129,000 different ways to grow. Last week, Life served as Rabbit Box’s wonderful emcee for Black Like Me, a collaborative event with Athens’ local Chess and Community program. Our storytellers gathered to talk race, embracing the culture you come from, and overcoming adversity.

Up first for the night was Celest Divine, who wowed the audience v with her spoken word piece on celebrating skin color and avoiding judgements.

After being tried at age 15 and imprisoned for 10 years under Senate Bill 440 – in which teenagers are prosecuted as adults — Athens native Joseph Houston shared his story of rebuilding a life after life is taken from you.

LaTasha Sheats told the audience about her struggles with self-doubt growing up, now using these lessons to encourage young women through her mentoring organization Strong, Beautiful, & Godly Girls.

As leader of the All Love Movement, rapper and producer Versatyle Tha Wildchyld encouraged us all to choose love over anger, even in the face of dire circumstances.

Local writer and mentor Earnest Thompson, the Crackerjack Surprise storyteller of the evening, is no stranger to the Rabbit Box family. Thompson, a former Rabbit Box engineer, told of his (thankfully) brief encounters as a black man with law enforcement in Athens.

When life at home was difficult, Broderick Flanagan turned quietly to his schooling and art. Broderick now channels the artistic passion he developed as a boy to serve his community.

In his story about his a journey to find his father, Ismeal Cuthbertson (the acclaimer rapper Ishues) illuminated a few of the big cultural issues facing the black community.

Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander explained how her mother taught her never to internalize the hate or threads of racism found in their Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Her story is about standing up for yourself and not messing with moms.

Life the Griot concluded the evening with a story that landed somewhere between the dream world and reality and left us all with the idea of mending bridges, not just between family but between our selves.

Our March show at the Foundry — Wednesday, March 9th — centers on the theme My Brush with Fame. In April we’ll gather at the outdoor amphitheater at Sandy Creek Park for a collaboration with the Athens Science Cafe. Those stories will adhere to the theme “Trials by Science: Dead Ends and Discoveries.

A big thanks goes out to all of our volunteers and brave storytellers!

RB Teasers: The Kindness of Strangers

Rabbit Box: The Kindness of Strangers

By Melissa Harward

Everyone got cozy last Wednesday as Rabbit Box kicked off 2016 with a packed house for January’s The Kindness of Strangers. Tara Stuart was our lovely Master of Ceremonies for the evening, guiding us through stories that spanned the globe while making the world just a little smaller.

Our first storyteller was Rabbit Box veteran Mony Abrol, who recalled his time spent as a young ship’s engineer traversing across Italy with the help of three strangers.

When Daniel Rodriguez-Granrose is on the verge of giving up, help comes from a few unexpected places out in the desert of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Of the hundreds of people we come across each day, some make an impression that lasts despite how fleeting the interaction may be. In the back alley of her Denver apartment, Elizabeth Taddonio meets Chris.

Strangers on a hitchhiking trip keep asking Paul Guillebeau if he likes to do anything. This is a hilarious tale of the kindness and the random things you find along the road.

Our crackerjack storyteller of the night was Katie McDermott, who warned us about the dangers (and hijinks) of finding a roommate off of Craigslist.

While traveling through South America, Jesse Houle quickly learns that those strangers who have the least to give are the most generous. In a desperate time, he remembers how truly connected we are all and how that can change the context in which we interact.

Lee Pierce makes the ultimate sacrifice for a stranger in this tale of things gone so very wrong.

After her whole world crumbles, Angela Romero finds solace in the words of someone who understands exactly what she’s going through.

Getting lost in possibly hostile territory finds Lewis Earnest scrambling for someone to show him the way. A misunderstanding reminds him that kindness can come from anywhere on the street.

Rabbit Box will return on Wednesday, February 10th with Black Like Me, a collaboration with Life the Griot of Chess and Community

Rabbit Box Recap: War and Peace

By Melissa Harward

The history of humankind can seem like an endless litany of barbaric acts. Look around the world today and note the atrocities, the pain, and the tragic aftermath of violence. If there’s one truth in this reality, however, it is that in the debris of war there will be people helping other people. 

On Thursday, our Rabbit Box storytellers brought us their stories of war, of compassion, of standing for what they believe in and rising above violence. Some were funny; others had us on the edge of tears.

In her first appearance as Master of Ceremonies, Heather Broadwater welcomed each storyteller to the Foundry stage with wit and aplomb. One storyteller, we learned, was her mother: the also-witty Elaine Westfall.

Reverend A.R. Killian kicked off the night with a tale set on a wintery night at a German airbase during the Korean War era. A revelation by his roommate, disliked by others on the base, makes the story all the more poignant.

As Heather explained when she introduced him, Javier Romero-Heesacker now has more public speaking experience than most of us, and he’s only 14. Javier’s story of joining the ROTC program at Clarke Central High School leaves us thinking about whether it’s necessary to strip away a person’s individuality to foster allegiance to one’s company.

Jennifer Bray thought joining the Army would be a great way to pay for her education. When she finds herself aiming a rifle at a local man in Somalia and waiting to be told whether to shoot or hold her fire, she reconsiders her choice to enlist.

After getting in the wrong line at a military recruitment event packed with thousands of others, Earnest Thompson learns that new recruits don’t necessarily receive a hero’s welcome.

Our crackerjack storyteller of the night was Joerg Mayer. Drafted into the German Army at the end of the Cold War, he — like Jennifer Bray — found himself carefully aiming when someone came too close to the base.

Former Chief Elected Officer of Athens-Clarke County Gwen O’Looney described her work for the Red Cross in Vietnam and the power of just listening to soldiers at war-ravaged outposts — and, later, talking talking talking to save her life.

There are always casualties in war, as Sean Polite reminded us in his sobering tale about serving in the Navy during the second Gulf War. But he also enjoyed setting out to see the sights, though he often stood out as a tall African-American based in Japan.

Elaine Westfall talks about her overseas exchange as a teenager with a soldier who responded in 1970 to the first of her letters addressed to “Any Soldier” in Vietnam. 

Our final storyteller of the evening was John Mincemoyer, who served aboard a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean. Night after night at the sub’s helm in 1998 he helped others working alongside him pass the long hours in a surprising, touching way.

Rabbit Box will return on Wednesday nights starting January 13th with The Kindness of Strangers. Thank you to the Rabbit Box team for a wonderful year of stories — and an even bigger thanks to each of our storytellers who illuminated the stage with their memorable and meaningful stories.

Rabbit Box Honors our Veterans – Thursday, Nov. 12th!

Our upcoming show on the 12th — “War and Peace” — is a special one to commemorate Veterans Day.

We’ll hear stories from several veterans who served during times of war and relative peace. Earnest Thompson will tell about how he determined which branch of the service to join during the Korean War era, while John Mincemoyer will describe how he passed long nights deep in the darkness on a submarine in peacetime.

We’ll also hear from Reverend Archibald Killian about his service during the Korean War and from Sean Polite about his days serving in the Navy as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ignited. Soldier Jennifer Bray will tell about her deployment to Somalia on a UN peace-keeping mission when she was just 19.

We’ll hear from others, too, on this theme. Javier Romero-Heesacker, a freshman at Clarke Central, will provide a snapshot of what Junior ROTC is like these days. Former mayor Gwen O’Looney will tell about her Red Cross work in South Vietnam, when she traveled by helicopter to bring recreational opportunities to soldiers in far-flung and often grim encampments. Another story centers on the letter-writing campaign of a high school girl, Elaine Westfall, who connected with young soldiers a world away in South Vietnam.

If you’re brave you can put your name in the hat during intermission to see if you’ll be chosen as the “Crackerjack Surprise” storyteller who will tell an impromptu, 4-minute story that adheres to the theme.

We’re so pleased that our crackerjack-sharp friend Heather Broadwater will emcee the show!

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Rabbit Box alumni performing at the Classic City Fringe Festival!

Rabbit Box alumni Shannon McNeal, Sarah Beth Nelson, Denise Mount, and Hunt Brumby will be performing as the Bad Ass Storytelling Quartet in a show entitled “Can’t Tell You Why” at the Classic City Fringe Festival in Athens this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday October 23 – 25 with a preview teaser by Hunt Brumby on Thursday, October 22. http://classiccityfringefestival.com/ or email Denise Mount at ddm9238@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

Recap of Wild Things

by Melissa Harward

This month’s Rabbit Box brought us all a little closer to nature. In the spookily lit woods of Sandy Creek Park, the night air soon filled with stories of the wilderness out in the world and the wilderness within us. Our emcee of the evening was Alex White

Russell Cutts began the evening with a tale of a survival trek turned wild goose chase. Equipped with nothing but knives and wool blankets, Russell and the group must fare for themselves in an unexpected downpour.

After realizing her English-teaching position has landed her in the middle of the African wild, Elli Woodruff must face off with the animal natives.

The hunt can be exhilarating. After breaking a few rules on a night of coon hunting, Joshua Knott gets a little too much excitement when he finds himself surrounded and on the run.

With any ecological research there’s usually collateral damage to the environment. An experiment takes a dangerous turn when Uma Nagendra catches something unexpected in her research plot’s netting.

In a first for Rabbit Box, we had two crackerjack storytellers for Wild Things! Megan Westbrook shared a wild story of the craziest person she knows and a road trip turned road show. The wildest thing Kyle McSherry knows is a group of teenagers. Kyle leads a group of these wild things during a summer backpacking camp and encounters one of nature’s more shocking elements.

Jan Turner is the wildest person she knows and always manages to spook us. In this tale of her Pacific Northwest adventures, Jan warns that wild things could be lingering just outside the door.

In 2009, Gretchen Sneegas was deployed as part of a disaster relief crew to West Virginia, where she and her team encountered quite a few wild sights in their mold remediation work. Gretchen found one resident and her colony of feral cats especially creepy.

Our last storyteller of the evening was Olive Hebert, who reminded us that there’s nothing wrong with embracing your wild side.

Rabbit Box will return to the Foundry on Thursday, November 12th, with War and Peace. Big thanks to Mark Woods for the lighting and Roger Stahl for audio set-up and all of the other volunteers who made Wild Things wild! Look for the show to return on Wednesdays in 2016!

Memories of Sunday: Rabbit Box and Unitarians Collaborate

Rabbit Box is collaborating with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens (UUFA) for a special Sunday afternoon show called “Rabbit Box, Too: Sunday Memories.” The event, a benefit for Rabbit Box, is Sept. 27 at 2 in the afternoon in the UUFA sanctuary at 780 Timothy Drive.
What a powerhouse line-up! Storytellers include Thinc UGA director Jared Ruiz Bybee; the founder of the Athens Tutorial Program, Barbara Thurmond Archibald; retired principal Larry Johnson; UUFA lay minister Myrna Adams West; political activist Madelyn Clare Powell; and UUFA member Caryl Sundland, who has overseen adult religious education at the fellowship in the past. The performers will each tell a true, eight-minute story from their childhood memories of Sundays.

Judge David Sweat will emcee the show.

This will be the Fellowship’s first afternoon CommUUnity Forum, a new initiative to develop programs of interest for the community at large.

Keeping with the Sunday theme, the collection plate will be passed around for donations for Rabbit Box. We’re a nonprofit organization under the umbrella of the Athens Area Arts Council and use donations and ticket sales to record all our events, update our searchable archive and website, and pay a small stipend to our director, bookkeeper, photographer, and web guru.

As with our regular shows, people can put their name in a hat during intermission if they’e game to be the “Crackerjack Surprise” storyteller who gets four minutes to tell a story about their Sunday memories. Attendees are also encouraged to pin a small photo of themselves in their childhood Sunday best as an icebreaker at intermission.

For more information, contact UUFA member Betsy Bean at betsybean@gmail.com

Recap of RB – Fatherland

Rabbit Box: Fatherland by Marci White
Thursday, June 11, 2015
In June we heard touching and terrific stories on the theme “Fatherland” at The Foundry. Guest MC Christopher Becerra was the charming and witty host.

Elise Stangle, the director of Rabbit Box, opened the night with her first story on stage, telling about a happy childhood interrupted when her father, Phil Stangle, began to suffer a slow deterioration from a degenerative disease, eventually dying when Elise was not quite 18. Her father is fondly remembered, among other things, for being the creator of The Taco Stand, a popular local Mexican eatery.

Paul Quick wanted to feel like he mattered to his larger-than-life minister dad, but they had a hard time understanding each other. He had to wait until one of the hardest years of his adult life to see that his dad cared for and supported him in unexpected ways.

In the tiny town of Empire, Michigan, Mark Evans‘ charismatic preacher father goes to bat for him after Mark experiences bullying from an overbearing coach.

Growing up in Florida in the 1960s with just her mom, Mary Miller had disturbing revelations after thinking her dad was dead, to finding he was not, to finding he was.

Ruta Abolins‘ name was chosen from the Crackerjack box, and she took the stage to tell us of her journey in search of her “fatherland,” the place her parents immigrated from: her luggage but found some things she was looking for.

Disney World was his dad’s favorite place, his grandfather’s favorite place, and, as a child, was woven throughout Matthew Epperson’s family life. As he grew older and Matthew’s love for Disney dimmed, he found that a distance had also grown between him and his dad.

Mel Cochran was largely raised by her “smaller big brother” and her “brother bear” after her mother (“The Glue”) was unable to care for her after her birth, and her mean Marine dad suffered a permanent brain injury. Her brothers “loved to torture” her but also just plain loved her.

Chuck Horne discovered a new kind of homeland when he spent 6 months living in Perth, Australia.

Naji Lyon was intimidated by his gruff strongman dad, the foreman at a rock quarry. When he was finally able to get his exhausted and exacting dad’s attention to help him make a car for a Boy Scout’s derby car race, the stakes are high for his car to win first place.