Rabbit Boxing!

Thursday, APRIL 28, we’re unveiling a new storytelling format…Rabbit Boxing.

Have you ever kept a secret that you shouldn’t have? Been burned by someone who shared yours? Watched, or participated, as a secret became public?

Craft a 5-minute story around the theme “Secrets,” come to Hi-Lo out in Normaltown and put your name in a box. The first eight names chosen will perform their 5 minute stories for the crowd–and a panel of judges.

Winner gets a $25 Hi-Lo gift certificate.

Don’t want to share your secrets? Come watch, listen, and cheer for your favorites!

Stories start at 8:30.


Rabbit Box Teasers: My Brush with Fame

March 9, 2016
by Marci White

In March, the theme of “My Brush with Fame,” yielded a surprising variety of takes on the concept of fame. Some storytellers were seeking fame, while others unexpectedly met someone famous. There was a tale of small town fame, another of hob-nobbing with celebrities in the big city, and one story of unwanted internet fame.

Our lovely and lively emcee for the evening was Tara Stuart.
When high school English teacher Laurie Allen was in college, she challenged herself to audition for a big part in a play. It was a difficult role with a demanding director, but she was determined to make her mark and be forever immortalized as, “an American bitch and Irish whore.” There would be dignitaries attending, and press write-ups. They would be famous!

As a teen living in Atlanta, David Finkel loved playing basketball, and he modeled his game after one of the most famous pro players of the time. He never dreamed that a series of coincidences would bring him into close contact with his idol.

After Emily Eisenman moved from West Palm Beach to the small town of Winterville, Georgia, she made the decision to run for mayor of Winterville, and won! As mayor and sudden local celebrity, she found herself the recipient of surprising perks, even beyond getting to be the judge of the middle-school spelling bee.

When Naji Lyon was an active duty combat Marine stationed near Hollywood, California, his unit got a call from a reality TV show producer looking for a Marine to be on the show. Lyon saw his big chance at stardom and jumped at it. Would the limo-ride to Universal Studios be his ticket to a walk down the red carpet…or maybe a different kind of walk?

At the end of intermission Tara pulled a name out of the Crackerjack Box and the winner was Landon Bubb. As the manager of the local Ben & Jerry’s ice cream store, Landon posted some pictures on the store’s Facebook page and was shocked to see that one photo went viral, and not in a good way. An ice cream icon had to be called in for a peace-keeping mission.

As a teen, Russell Cutts, an aircraft enthusiast, volunteered to help out with security at an aircraft convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He was given a brown security shirt, a hat, and keys to a golf cart. He loved it, but things got really interesting when he was standing in line at the concession stand and the person in front of him turned around.

When Wyler Hecht was invited to accompany her friend to the island of Dominica for her friend’s 60th birthday, she was psyched to go. They would be on a rugged island near gorgeous beaches; they would see Sperm whales off-shore and pythons in the jungle. But the creature she saw walking through the fruit orchards of the estate they were staying on was the most shocking and memorable part of their trip.

When Katie McDermott traveled with her comedy improv troupe to the Del Close Marathon improv festival in New York City, they had high hopes of being recognized as brilliant and hilarious performers. And then there was the after party…

Aaron Strand moved from Athens to attend NYU and study acting in New York City, where, to his dismay, he met a lot of cocky fame-seekers just like himself. He scored a job at a high-end night club, where he and his colleagues thought of themselves as the elite “ambassadors of fun to the rich and famous.” There he saw the dark side of what it can mean to be rich and famous and entered a “dark energy vortex” that was nearly his undoing.

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.