Down the Rabbit Hole

1. Angela Lovell winds a yarn about a burglar with a hilarious punchline. 2. Brian Russ from Backwords sings to flashing buffalo on the Super 8 projected prairie.

In case you never had the pleasure of a butterscotch krimpet in your brown-bag lunch, this is how you unwrap a tastykake: put the package icing-side down against a smooth surface and rub in a circular motion. For how long?

“Until you know it’s ready,” Kate Hill Cantrill, curator of the new Rabbit Tales reading series, explained as she unwrapped the package to reveal two sweaty yellow cakes, their icing still in perfect condition.

The audience snacked on said delicacies, along with the grown-up version of a juice box (boxed wine) while different artists shared work that riffed off of the inaugural Rabbit Tale theme, “Flash”, a concept that paired flash-fiction writers, visual projections and live music, and — wait for it — glow sticks.

“I ran a reading series in Austin for three years called the Utter Reading Series”, Cantrill says. “Even though I served boxed wine and Twinkies, it sometimes became a little dry and academic and too serious.”

While Rabbit Tales had its serious moments — writers Sharon Polli and Chanel Dubofksy touched prose driven emotional pitches, Backwords, in their psychedelic folk-rock style, lead an Americana meditation with their music alongside Super 8 projections of the Black Hills of South Dakota — there was an informal atmosphere of hilarity too. Writer Angela Lovell, a first place winner at the Moth Story Slam, read some dark, comedic stories involving predatory fathers and anorexic princesses in Disney World.
And then there were the glow stick brothers! Mike Faulkner, a former nun chuck champion at the Junior Olympics, together with his brother Doug, who composed part of the electronic soundtrack, brought the concept of flash to its literal manifestation during a seven minute performance inspired by the New Zealand tribal dance Poi.

From the hoots in the crowd, and the empty boxes of wine resting on their sides, the literary-library effect seemed safely cast out. Afterwards, the audience stuck around, ensuring that every drop of room temperature vino had been properly paired with lunch-room cakes: There was an impromptu sing-a-long by the piano. A glow-stick lesson on the sidewalk for any who dared paint the empty DUMBO streets with neon light. It was artists at their best — crossing beyond their typical genres, talking about life, acting like hoodlums.

It’s the kind of scene that can only exist because of operations like, Rabbit Movers, the company that funds the gallery space known as the Rabbit Hole. A moving company that employs only artists — writers, dancers, musicians, painters, etc. — the Rabbit Hole is home to its employees’ rotating display of talent, hosting openings, community yoga classes, and now “Rabbit Tales” — a showcase that brings a little of each.

“I wanted to bring the arts together in a diverse and dynamic way,” Cantrill said. Mission Accomplished.

The series, which will run the second Thursday of each month, will explore a different theme each time, with upcoming shows on “Nostalgia” and “Flow”. Writers interested in submitting should send their work to rabbittalesdumbo@gmail.com, and direct your emails to Kate Hill Cantrill.

–Lauren Belski is a recent graduate of the Brooklyn College MFA program. Her work has appeared in Story Quarterly, Nerve, and Forte.

Photos by Allison Maggy.

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