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.
Starting off the night with a stunning story, writer Amy Pengra Button shared her tale of losing her brother Moss and then finding his spirit again by climbing aboard the very thing that took him from her: a motorcycle. At first she was frightened, but then, everything changed. “From behind my clinched eyes, Moss appeared, watching me panic like the first time I wobbled on skis,” Amy told us. “I could see that signature grin, teasing and supportive, and I heard him: ‘You can do this, Amos—you’ll get it.’”
Zaza Couture founder Tereze Gruntmane took the audience on a trip that spanned three children, multiple decades, and the ups and downs of life: from meeting her husband to overcoming adultery—to starting an international clothing line—to finding her own strength and voice. “After awkward silence we smiled and all my insecurities melted away once for all,” Tereze said. “I felt so relieved. I had buried my raw emotions without ever talking through them.”
Blogger Anjelica Ruiz touched many with her brave and beautiful tale of converting to Judaism despite a dearth of Hispanics and even more so, her mother not approving. In the moment she had to finally make a decision, Anjelica stood for one thing: herself. “I can’t always do what my mother wants,” Anjelica told her rabbi before undergoing a necessary and surprisingly meaningful ritual for conversion.
When Dawynn Edwards shared her hilarious and honest tale of seeking health and eventually joining a climbing gym, she had everyone in stitches. “I was wearing a black spandex tank top with grey yoga pants, and feeling scantily clad,” Dawynn explained. “Forcing the leg loops of the harness into my crotch meant every nook and cranny of my personhood was on display.”
When 14-year-old Emma Vrabel took the stage, most in the audience likely knew little about albinism. But with courage, verve, and plenty of humor, Emma gave us all a lesson in humanity and her condition, which includes a visual impairment. “‘Don’t you have glasses?’ I get that question a lot from teachers,” Emma told us. “So much that I created a T-shirt that includes the phrase ‘Emma Vrabel is not responsible for events that transpire after being asked if she needs glasses.’”
Even though Rachel McEnany came from long line of daredevils, she often found herself crippled with fear. When getting sober didn’t completely fix that problem, she tried something else: jumping out of a plane. In doing that, she overcame her fears, found the love of her life, and became the woman she is today. “I’ve tapped into a strength and tenacity I didn’t know I had,” Rachel shared with us. “And I’ve been given the gift of seeing and loving myself as the fierce, capable woman I have become.”
Ending the evening on the most powerful note possible, Gretchen Carlson shared a series of gut-wrenching scenes from her life when men sexually harassed her. And how on July 6, 2016, Carlson jumped off a cliff and sued then Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Within weeks, Ailes was fired and the trajectory of Carlson’s life was altered forever. While others might have cowered, Carlson did the opposite. It is not easy, she said, but the rewards are rich: “In the early days after my story broke, a young woman sitting next to me at the hair washing basin—a total stranger—looked at me and simply said two words, ‘thank you.’”
With loads of courage and humor, “Jump Off A Cliff” was the perfect opener for what is sure to be a stellar sixth season! If you’re yearning for more leaps of faith, check out the full photo gallery below. And now having jumped off a cliff and onto the Oral Fixation stage, these storytellers are now part of the Oral Fixation family. You could be too! OUR NEXT SHOW, “CLOSE TO HOME,” IS CASTING RIGHT NOW! Click here for more info. Any take on the #CloseToHome theme is open game. If you have a true tale that fits the bill, write it up and send it our way by Friday, November 17!