In August of last year, my friend Renee from our small group at church emailed me to tell me about this cool new thing she'd discovered called "Rabbit Box." It's a show put on every month that fosters the art of storytelling in Athens, Georgia by providing a forum for people to share true stories from their lives. There are no stand up comedians; no professionals; just real people with real stories to share. My immediate thought was--this is for me. I am known for my stories! So with a little courage, I emailed Rabbit Box and asked them what I needed to do to apply or audition. Long story short, I was on stage the following month telling my "Squirrel Whisperer" story to a large group of people at the Melting Point. It was by far the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. I am used to telling stories to my friends and family; I am comfortable in that element. But to stand on stage in a room full of strangers is an entirely different thing. I got through it; I made the audience laugh and I felt really empowered afterwards. It was just an AWESOME experience all around. Rabbit Box told me I did a great job but that there was a 4 month waiting period before I could share again. They do this to keep the material fresh and it makes sense. Anyway, the following month they were short on storytellers so they reached out to see if I had a "haunted" story to share. I said "As a matter of fact I do--and it's really funny! So, I found myself on stage again in October sharing my "Headless Woman In Red" story. Once again, the audience was so gracious with their laughter and I felt completely at ease and very much in my element. I started to wonder how this amazing idea came to be and I reached out to Rabbit Box founder, Marci White and asked her to share her story. Here it is:
I started the storytelling group in May of 2012. I'd been inspired by The Unchained Tour, which came through Athens in 2011 and 2012. That tour was managed by George Dawes Green, who started The Moth in NYC and who is from Savannah. Most of the storytellers in the Unchained Tour were from the South and there were some wonderful storytellers. I was talking with my friend Ari Leiberman who is a big fan of The Moth and he encouraged me to start a group here. Our first show was at Avid Bookshop. We had 7 storytellers tell on the theme "Lost and Found." From that show I recruited some volunteers and we met together and decided to name the event series "Rabbit Box" after one of Vic Chesnutt's songs. The second event was at the upstairs of The Globe in downtown Athens and it very quickly grew in popularity. That space holds 80 comfortably but up to 120 people were squeezing in each month, so in November 2012 we moved to The Melting Point and that's mainly where it's been held since then. We have a core group of organizers: myself, Roger Stahl, Matthew Epperson, Mary Whitehead and Pat Priest. Many other people have volunteered in various ways. We have two people who provide free story coaching for anyone who wants it. Rabbit Box continues to attract so many interesting, amazing storytellers. I credit its success to Athens, to movements like The Moth, and to good timing! This form of storytelling is not only entertainment, but about a feeling of connecting with people in a personal, substantial way that we find so rarely these days. We leave feeling like we know these individuals in a new way and have learned important new things. The stories are all unique to the individual, but good stories also tap into something universal, so that even in the the most unusual stories we see themes that we can all relate back to the basic experience of being human. You can learn more about Rabbit Box from our Facebook Page (look at the "about" section), on our website, and if you do a web search you'll find some articles written about us.
So…if you are lucky enough to live in Athens, GA--do yourself a favor and go check out the next show at Rabbit Box. I promise you will not be disappointed!! Here is a list of upcoming shows for 2014:
Duets (2 people tell one story)
Out On A Limb
Silver Box: Stories from our Elders
Rabbit Box with Art Rocks Athens