Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Squeeze My Dramaturgy: Cathy Schenkelberg @ Edfringe 2017


Assembly Rooms – Drawing Room
Thursday 3 – Sun 27 Aug. (not 14, 21), 15:10 (16:25)


Or ‘The True Story of How I Survived Scientology.’ In this original solo show, Cathy Schenkelberg, a small town Catholic girl from a family of ten, shares this strangely hilarious  yet unbelievably horrifying story how she spent 18 years and almost one million dollars down the rabbit hole of this infamous and unbelievable cult before finally finding the courage to break free.   

Says Cathy, ‘I’m lucky to be here and healthy.  Many of the people who went as far as I did in the Church, lost everything: family, friends, homes, bank accounts, identities and their actual lives.’

SQUEEZE MY CANS is Cathy’s cautionary yet universal tale about a young adult searching for her place and purpose in life which is moving, heartbreaking and ultimately, redemptive.  She reached for the stars, but landed on Mars!

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes I actually think it’s the best space. Performance, music, art, theatre creates a safe atmosphere in which discussion can easily open up. Its spontaneous and raw and allows that one on one contact with people. No walls. A freedom of expression and art are, to me, where great ideas come from, with the added bonus of bringing people together. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

For me with this particular piece it was a way to heal my heart. To forgive myself for choices I made and to share the experience in the hopes of helping others in the process. Aside from walking dogs and hiking which also helped focus and ground me. I did find a true expression of myself as an individual, that I had lost in Scientology. I am simply trying to be a better human. A kinder soul.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I was really learning as I went along.  It was my director Shirley Anderson who saw the vision and was passionate about the story. She had been successful at the fringe years back with a show called “Big Blonde” She's a tremendous director and crafted this show into an expression and form I could only dream it would  be. I’m quite lucky for her talent and vision.

 Does the show fit with your usual productions? 

I perform a lot in musical theatre and comedy type shows. Not to say I haven’t experienced the dark stuff, but most of that sadly happened in the cult.  

A much “different” "production" but by which this
show came about.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope it brings about a spirit of joy for those who see it. It does get quite funny in and around the darkness. But if we don’t find a bit of humor in the mistakes we’ve made then whats the point. I was scared and lost for too long! I’m making up for that now. The story of my experience in Scientology is not just the loss of time and money but the loss of oneself. 

This is an everyman's story, except with aliens. Because, let’s be real for a moment, who doesn’t like a good sexy Sci-fi Alien driven one woman show with heart. Oh, I made myself laugh again. Well, this show is cheaper than therapy and stranger than fiction.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Lighting, sound and projection design were a large consideration in shaping the story to aid in the emotional journey of the audience. But we didn’t think of them in terms of strategies, more like tools to allow the audience to sit back and take it in. 75 minutes of a nonstop roller coaster ride that is a true story of one young woman’s journey into and out of Scientology. A cautionary tale indeed. 

SQUEEZE MY CANS, originally conceived through Cathy’s spoken word performances in Los Angeles and Chicago, and has been performed to critical acclaim throughout the United States, including  sold out runs in Chicago, Nashville, Tampa and at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Cathy Schenkelberg  (Writer/Performer) is first and foremost a theatre actress who got her start on the Chicago  stage and has gone on to perform in a diverse slate of productions around the U.S. (Les Miz, God of Carnage, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story).    Cathy has also a successful career as a voiceover artist and has been featured in several national advertising campaigns.

Shirley Anderson (Director) is a director, writer and performer, who is happy to be returning to the Edinburgh Fringe, where she previously performed her solo adaptation of the Dorothy Parker short story Big Blonde. Shirley has collaborated with Lookingglass, Plasticene and Studio 108 Theaters in Chicago and Sacred Fools, Theater Movement Bazaar, Zoo District, Son of Semele and Theater of NOTE in Los Angeles.

Fringe Management (Producer) has produced over 40 shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at multiple venues since 2001, including the Fringe First winner runt, and several productions featuring Perrier Nominee and Double Act of the Year winner The Pajama Men.

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