Oral History: Jump Off A Cliff

On Friday evening, November 3, over 220 people filled every seat in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House to christen Oral Fixation’s return to the Metroplex. After a year’s hiatus, we kicked off Season 6 with “Jump Off A Cliff,” a special all-women show headlined by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. From sisterly love and saving a marriage—to conquering a climbing gym and floating into faith—to standing up for oneself and taking a stand—#JumpOffACliff spanned the spectrum, sold-out, and pleased the crowd galore.

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Share Your Story: Close To Home

kləʊz / tə / həʊm

What does it mean?

– Affects you deeply and emotionally because you can strongly relate to it (Source: The Free Dictionary).

– Causes you to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed because it is likely to be true (Source: The Longman Dictionary).

– Is within close proximity to your home or dwelling (Source: The Urban Dictionary).

– Involves someone directly (Source: MacMillan Dictionary).

Example Sentences:

Because I was bullied as a kid, I teared up when my son told me he gets teased at school—it’s just so close to home (Source: The Farlex Dictionary of Idioms).

That remark about their marriage hit close to home (Source: The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary).

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world (Source: Eleanor Roosevelt).

The bombs hit close to home last night; they were only a few miles away (Source: The Urban Dictionary).

This problem hits particularly close to home for many parents (Source: The MacMillan Dictionary).

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Rehearsal Roundup: Jump Off A Cliff

This past Saturday, the “Jump Off A Cliff” cast headed down to Arts Mission Oak Cliff and together took a giant leap into full-blown rehearsal mode. After some delicious brick-oven pies from nearby restaurant Nova, the #JumpOffACliff crew was ready to take a leap of faith and give it a go.

With a moving tale of family love, writer Amy Pengra Button started off the read-throughs right. All were deeply moved by her tale of family, grief, and discovery. “Stunned, I slid down the pillar I’d been leaning against and called my sister. On her hello, silent shock gave way to heaving sobs. I tucked my head between my knees. ‘It happened last night,’ she said.”

Sharing her poignant and courageous story of love, marriage, and life, Zaza Couture founder Tereze Gruntmane, despite English not being her first language, wowed us with her metaphors: “I had let our marriage sail unattended, ignoring our own needs and wants as a couple. When was the last time I texted ‘I love you’?”

Shy and seemingly quiet, blogger Anjelica Ruiz stepped up to the music stand and took us on her journey from Baptism to Judaism and ultimately, independence. When she raised her voice to deliver dialogue from a pivotal scene, you could’ve heard a pin drop.

We all laughed hard when Dawynn Edwards shared her story of conquering a climbing gym. “I called first, wanting someone at the climbing gym to reassure me that if I lost forty pounds first it would be better. ‘We have a climbing 101 class on Saturday!’ the breezy high-school equivalent voice encouraged, ‘Why wait?’”

When 14-year-old Emma Vrabel took her turn, lessons on self-advocacy were delivered through humor and verve. “’I don’t know what to do with a visually impaired kid,’ a past teacher said. ‘I never got any paperwork. What do you want me to do here?’ I wanted to say, ‘I’m sorry my disability is inconvenient. I just live with it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to deal with me for an hour every other day.’”

Rachel McEnany took us from childhood fear to grown-up adventure. Her visceral and animated descriptions and of skydiving had us all enthralled. “What I remember about that first jump is that the wind striking my face felt like tiny, icy needles. And that freefall felt more like floating than falling. And at the horizon, I saw the curvature of the earth.”

Joining this talented, read-to-jump crew on Friday night will be special headliner, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who sued CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment last year, essentially lighting the match that lit the wildfire now raging in headlines daily. Carlson will share how jumping off a cliff transformed and redirected her life.

Rehearsal was great, but Friday night will be stellar. This special, all-female show jumps onto the stage at Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House this Friday, November 3, at 8 p.m.! Since we are not in our usual venue, SEATS ARE LIMITED and are very likely to sell out before Friday. BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW and join us! Every ticket comes with a copy of Gretchen Carlson’s new book, just out, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. ✍️ 📖 Carlson will be available post-show to sign copies!

In the meantime, check out our entire batch of “Jump Off A Cliff” rehearsal photos in the gallery below. See you at Hamon Hall!

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Tereze Gruntmane

From age 18 until now, Tereze Gruntmane has learned much, including how to save a marriage and start an internationally successful clothing line. On Friday night, November 3, with a story that spans decades and embraces all emotions, Tereze will take us on her own “Jump Off A Cliff” journey.

Tereze Gruntmane came to the US from Latvia in 1996 with her husband and daughter. In addition to having two more children—each nine years apart—she is the founder/designer of ZAZA couture, a boutique children’s apparel line. Currently writing a book about being present in relationships and avoiding affairs, Tereze speaks her mind, even when unpopular.

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Rachel McEnany

When Rachel McEnany was a child, she dreamt of flying. At the same time, her waking life was often filled with fear. On Friday night, November 3, Rachel will step onto the Oral Fixation stage and take us along on her transformation from anxious little girl to fearless woman who loves jumping out of planes, a lot.

Rachel McEnany has an insatiable curiosity about the world at large. She grew up in the hills of Arkansas and would almost always rather be hiking. She loves skydiving, her puppies, and her husband, Paul, not necessarily in that order. Her credo is, “Be brave and be kind.”

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Gretchen Carlson

On July 6, 2016, longtime Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson sued Fox CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, lighting a match that set off a wildfire now seen in the headlines daily. On November 3, Gretchen will step onto Oral Fixation stage to tell us how jumping off that cliff transformed her life.

Gretchen Carlson is one of today’s most recognized news anchors and tireless advocates for female empowerment. She is also an accomplished violinist, Stanford University grad, and former Miss America. Her decision to speak up against sexual harassment sparked an international conversation about the problem and, in doing so, revealed that every woman has a story.

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Emma Vrabel

High school is hard enough, but for 14-year-old Emma Vrabel, who has albinism, moving cross-country and starting at a new school meant self-advocating all over again. On Friday, November 3, Emma will step onto the Oral Fixation stage and bring us along with her on her odyssey of discovery.

Emma Vrabel is an avid reader, writer, listener, and performer. She first heard spoken word live about a year ago. Since then, performing and hearing spoken word stories and poetry has become one of the biggest elements of her life. Emma is a martial artist with 2 black belts. She lives in Keller and is a freshman in high school.

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Anjelica Ruiz

Searching for meaning and spiritual guidance, Anjelica Ruiz found a home in Judaism, which meant going against her mother’s wishes and abandoning the faith of her childhood. Undergoing an ancient Jewish ritual, however, she finds new strength. On November 3, Anjelica steps onto the Oral Fixation stage in “Jump Off A Cliff,” and takes us along on her spiritual quest.

A native Dallasite, Anjelica N. Ruiz jumps at any opportunity to leave the state and travel. She can often be found at Temple Emanu-El, where she works full-time and teaches on Sundays. In her free time, she is usually reading, daydreaming, or writing for her blog, The Wondering Jew.

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Dawynn Edwards

After a childhood of body shaming that included awkward P.E. and a girdle, Dawynn Edwards embraced herself and stayed active. Having already conquered tap dancing and hula hooping, she decided to raise the stakes. On November 3, she’ll take the Oral Fixation stage in “Jump Off A Cliff” and share some momentous moments from Rock Climbing 101.

Dawynn Edwards sporadically writes poetry and short stories when not maintaining the facade of a gainfully employed adult. She hopes to share her musings with a larger audience while traveling the world. Dawynn lives with her partner in Bedford, Texas, where they enjoy planning adventures and exploring local entertainment.

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Meet “Jump Off A Cliff” Storyteller Amy Pengra Button

Dashing through an airport, Amy Pengra Button received the worst news imaginable: the untimely death of her brother, Moss. Missing his presence, she makes a bold choice in dealing with her grief. On Friday, November 3, in “Jump Off A Cliff,” Amy takes the Oral Fixation audience on that journey with her.

Amy Pengra Button’s stories have appeared in Marie Claire and the Los Angeles Times among others. After nine years with Warner Bros. in LA, she returned to Texas to be closer to family and queso. She writes for Freeman, an event experience company, and holds degrees from USC and TCU.

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