Introducing Shiloh Venable, “Out From Under The Rug” storyteller

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Shiloh’s life has changed immensely since she was a college student. She came out of the closet to her family and friends, and now she is sharing her abortion story live, when the Austin “Out From Under The Rug” cast takes the Zach Theatre stage.

Shiloh Venable is a native Texan, a feminist, an Aggie, and an amateur healthy eater. She loves her finacée and her pups, and can’t get enough of improv comedy or road trips. If you can’t find her in her kitchen, look for your nearest soapbox, and there she’ll be.

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Introducing Mayela Gutknecht, “Out From Under The Rug” storyteller

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After having two abortions, each at a different stage of her life, Mayela reflects on her life and her choices. Hear her brave story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Mayela Gutknect has a Master’s degree in Advanced Public Health Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Beloit College, Wisconsin. As a Public Health Nurse in San Francisco, she home visits with pregnant women and mothers with newborns to promote safety, bonding, and breastfeeding.

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Introducing Scott Ross, “Out From Under The Rug” storyteller

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Scott Ross and his wife, Jeni, experienced the tragedy of a medically induced abortion due to fetal anomaly. Hear how this experience forever changed his life in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Scott Ross is a tech professional and father of three young daughters. He has lived in Austin for seven years with his wife, Jeni. He grew up in New Jersey, went to school at Boston University, and has lived in New York and San Francisco. He spends too much time on sports and making jokes.

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“Out From Under The Rug” featuring Britt Payne

Theme: “Out From Under The Rug”
Storyteller: Britt Payne

When Britt Payne discovered she was pregnant, she thought “everything would fall into place.” The opposite occurred. “I want the whole package,” the man said, “and you are not it.” Britt questioned everything. “Would I bring this little spirit into the world, knowing that its father would likely dip in and out, a sentence of a lifetime of heartache? Or would I have an abortion and set the spirit free? ” No easy answers, but in choosing to terminate her pregnancy, Britt ventured onto a path of self-love where she realized that she actually is the whole package.

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Introducing Sherry Merfish, “Out From Under The Rug” storyteller

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In 1972, before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Sherry Merfish had an abortion at a clinic in New Mexico–the only state to offer an exception to U.S. anti-abortion laws. Hear her personal story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Sherry Merfish has had a long career in advocacy and fundraising. Sherry holds a B.A. from the University of Texas, a M.A. in American Studies from USC, and a J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center. Sherry lives in Houston despite an extreme dislike of both mosquitoes and heat. She and her husband, Gerald, are the proud parents of two daughters, Brett and Beth. 

Fixated Facts:

What would you title the autobiography of your life? Champion of Women and Girls.

What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? I am committed to social change in a variety of ways. I wholeheartedly believe in advocating for women to emerge from the shadows to reclaim their reproductive history and the choices they have made. It’s harder to hate up close, once people identify an abortion story with a person they know, respect, and love.

What is your favorite smell? Simmering chicken soup with matzo balls, because it evokes memories of my maternal grandmother, Yetta, who modeled boundless love.

Who is your favorite cartoon character? Growing up in the 1950s, Brenda Starr stood out, because she actually had adventures and an occupation as a reporter!

Sneak peak: “The momentous, landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which would make abortion legal and which was argued courageously by Sarah Weddington, was mere months away. But as far as my situation was concerned, the decades of statutes criminalizing abortion were very much in effect.”

Don’t miss Sherry perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Austin show on Monday, October 10th.

Introducing Carole Wall, “Out From Under The Rug” storyteller

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Carole Wall and her husband were excited to have a baby, but their lives changed forever after receiving devastating news during the 20-week sonogram. Hear Carole reflect on her experience with abortion in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Carole Wall was born and raised in Austin. She has a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences and a master’s degree in Liberal Arts. She is the Manager of Grants for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the mother of a 6-year-old daughter. 

Fixated Facts:

What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? I welcome any opportunity to discuss abortion and the way my life has changed since I took control over telling my story. We can’t necessarily write the plot of our lives, but we can write the chapters.

What is your favorite word? Any curse word will do when my daughter isn’t around.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Fulfilled.

What is the weirdest compliment that you’ve ever received? I have had more than one dental professional comment on the strength of my tongue. I don’t think it’s actually a compliment, but it’s definitely weird.

Sneak peak: Knowing that your daughter is dying is heartbreaking. When you are given the news that there is nothing that can be done to save your baby’s life, it feels like your soul has been ripped apart.  But we had a decision to make.

Don’t miss Carole perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Austin show on Monday, October 10th.

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Meet The Cast Of “Out From Under The Rug” [AUSTIN]

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Don’t miss these upcoming stories told live @ ZACH Theatre, Austin, on Monday, October 10.

This fall, Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) sweeps out the shame with “Out From Under The Rug: True Life Tales of Abortion.” Powerful, personal stories, “Out From Under The Rug” will tug at your heartstrings with empowering tales from men and women whose lives have been affected by abortion and women’s rights activism. Taking the stage at the Zach Theatre on Monday, October 10 at 8 p.m., our storytellers will motivate, impact, and encourage audience members to join them in chipping away at the stigma of abortion. From clinic workers to women’s rights advocates, from brave young women to mothers and fathers dealing with tragedy, “Out From Under The Rug” will personalize stories that often get distorted by the political spotlight. In advance of the presidential election this November, our presenters will leave viewers with more understanding of real experiences from a variety of different perspectives. Do not miss this show! $25 tickets are on sale now! Keep an eye out for more details: storyteller profiles will be published in the coming days. First, though, some introductions are in order:

  • Carole Wall was excited to have a baby but learned her daughter had a terminal condition 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Despite her grief, she elects to testify in the Capital and later forms a bond with Wendy Davis.
  • After having two abortions, each at different stages of her life, Mayela Gutknecht lives her dream as a Public Health nurse in San Francisco. 
  • Scott Ross shares a husband’s perspective of the tragedy of of a medically induced abortion due to fetal anomaly, and how it changed his and his wife’s lives forever.
  • Valerie R. Peterson chooses abortion after learning the baby she is carrying has a condition that is 100% incompatible with life. Her decision to terminate the pregnancy was complicated by Texas Bill HB2, so she becomes an advocate for women’s rights.
  • In 1972, before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Sherry Merfish has an abortion at a clinic in New Mexico–the only location to offer an exception to US anti-abortion laws. Almost 40 years later, her daughter writes an Op-Ed called “My Mother’s Abortion.”
  • After having an abortion as a teenager, Elise Bilodeau devotes her life to working in an abortion clinic and helping other women.
  • Although she now identifies as queer, Shiloh Venable had an abortion many years ago and shares how this unique experience has shaped her life.

Join us on Monday, October 10, at 8 p.m. at the ZACH Theatre. $25 individual tickets are on sale now. More info to come on every storyteller as their profiles are published in the coming days. We can’t wait to see you there!

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Britt Payne

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Caught up in a brittle on-again-off-again relationship, Britt Payne learns that her pregnancy will not create the stability she longs for. Hear her emotional story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Britt Payne is a Dallas native from a long line of Texans. She adores her husband, her hounds, and an ice-cold martini. A proud member of a cookbook club, she’ll talk grub any chance she gets. She prefers sunshine along with a rainy Sunday (a good excuse to cuddle up). 

Fixated Facts:

What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? This is such an important topic. I want to help move the conversation forward and hopefully help people see matters from a different perspective.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A mermaid.

What is your favorite Dallas hangout? Louie’s. That’s where I got engaged!

Name one thing you miss about being a kid: I miss the moments when time seemed to move really slowly- those long summer days. Now, time appears to be on warp speed.

Sneak peak: “Upon learning that I was pregnant, I was cautiously happy and extremely nervous. The reality of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks. It became very real and I was flooded with so many thoughts and emotions.”

Don’t miss Britt perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Dallas show on Wednesday, September 21st.

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Lulu Ward

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Lulu grew up in a place and at a time when sex education was nonexistent. Her experience directly relates to her upbringing and also informs the next several decades of her life. Hear her story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Lulu Ward is an actor in Dallas. She was voted “Best Actress” in 2004 by the Dallas Observer, named Actor of the Year by the Dallas Voice in 2011, and named Outstanding Acting Performance in 2015 by the DFW Theatre Critics Forum for her performance in Tennessee Williams’s The Two-Character Play. Lulu teaches theatre at Collin College in Plano, TX.

 

Fixated Facts:

What would you name the autobiography of your life? The Misadventures of a Late Bloomer

What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? Theatre’s origins are in storytelling. As an actor, I am definitely drawn to the storytelling aspect of plays. My favorite plays all tell a great story. I think it’s fantastic that storytelling as an art still exists.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up? Patient.

What is your favorite smell? Puppy breath.

Sneak peak: “In the fall, at school, I told no one. I attempted to cleanse myself of the shame by being ‘The Perfect Little Girl.’ I didn’t date. I went to church every Sunday. I made straight A’s. I represented my town in Mississippi’s Jr. Miss Pageant. I became anorexic. I was 54 before I stopped trying to be “The Perfect Little Girl.'”

Don’t miss Lulu on the Oral Fixation stage on Wednesday, Sept. 21

Meet the Cast of “Out From Under The Rug” [DALLAS]

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Don’t miss these upcoming stories told live @ Dallas City Performance Hall on Wednesday, September 21.

This fall, Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) sweeps out the shame with “Out From Under The Rug: True Life Tales of Abortion.” Powerful, personal stories, “Out From Under The Rug” will tug at your heart strings with empowering tales from men and women whose lives have been affected by abortion and women’s rights activism. Taking the Dallas City Performance Hall stage on Wednesday, September 21 at 8 p.m., our eight storytellers will motivate, impact, and encourage audience members to join them in chipping away at the stigma of abortion. From renowned physicians to clinic workers, women’s rights advocates to clergy, and brave young women to devoted best friends, “Out From Under The Rug” will personalize stories that often get distorted by the political spotlight. In advance of the presidential election this November, our presenters will leave viewers with more understanding of real experiences from a variety of different perspectives. Do not miss this show! $25 tickets are on sale now! Keep an eye out for more details: storyteller profiles will be published in coming weeks. First, though, some introductions are in order:

  • Unitarian Minister Rev. Daniel Kanter reflects on his life, looking back to a moment in his youth and revealing how one decision shaped his future.
  • An abortion provider shares his story of how he came to support women’s rights through his career.
  • His best friend wants to have a baby (desperately), but when things go wrong, Clark Harding supports her through a difficult decision.
  • Not having any practical or even theoretical knowledge about sex, Lulu Ward gets pregnant at 15.
  • Raised in a Mexican Catholic family, Emily Cortez wavers between feeling guilty and believing she made a selfless decision after having an abortion.
  • After having an abortion as a teenager, Elise Bilodeau devotes her life to working in an abortion clinic and helping other women.
  • Caught up in a brittle on-again-off-again relationship, Britt Payne learns that her pregnancy will not create the stability and life she longs for.
  • Show host, Nicole Stewart, opens up about her own personal experience with a late-term abortion due to medical anomaly and her passion to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Join us on Wednesday, September 21, at 8 p.m. at Dallas City Performance Hall. $25 individual tickets are on sale now. More info to come on every storyteller as their profile is published in the coming days. We can’t wait to see you there!

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