Stories on the theme “Broken Record”.
Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) is kicking off Season 6 with “Jump Off A Cliff”! Headlining this power-packed show is former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who sued Fox CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Carlson’s personal story will draw from her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back, which highlights how she completely transformed her life by jumping off a cliff in her career—a transformation so impactful it inspired Oral Fixation to assemble this special show, featuring an all-female cast:
- Mired in grief over the untimely death of her brother, Amy Pengra Button finds hope from an unlikely activity.
- Attempting to find a new hobby, Dawynn Edwards awkwardly and hilariously braves a climbing gym.
- Searching for connection, Anjelica Ruiz goes against the wishes of her mother and leaves Christianity.
- Emma Vrabel—14, living with albinism, and attending a new school—discovers the power of self-advocacy.
- After nearly two decades of stuffing her emotions, Latvian-born Tereze Gruntmane finds her voice.
- For Rachel McEnany, when previous efforts to conquer her fear and anxiety fell short, she tried something completely different—falling to earth instead.
More info to come on all the storytellers as their profiles will be published in the coming days. In the meantime, please make plans to join us on Friday, November 3, at 8 pm in Hamon Hall in the Winspear Opera House $40 individual tickets can be purchased in person at 2403 Flora Street, by phone at 214.880.0202, or online via Ticket DFW. All tickets to “Jump Off a Cliff” include a copy of Carlson’s new book. Discounted Lexus Parking will be $10.
Theme: “Out From Under The Rug”
Storyteller: Emily Cortez
In her early twenties, Emily Cortez felt her life was really starting to take off when she fell in love with an older man, missed some birth control pills, and suddenly found herself gaining weight and fighting back nausea. With multiple tests confirming her pregnancy, Emily knew she was not ready to be a mother. Going against her Catholic faith, she chose to abort her pregnancy. “Walking into the clinic, I was greeted outside by a middle-aged man holding a sign: ‘You’re going to hell!’” Later, a full range of emotions overtook her, including fear of being judged and a wavering between guilt and non-guilt. Ultimately, however, the experience transformed her: “My unplanned pregnancy helped shape the timid woman I was into the strong, vocal woman I am today. To that protestor who held that sign, I want you to know: I am like you—a person—a human with stories, moments and experiences that have shaped me but do not define me.”
On Monday, October 10, 2016 Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) produced its first-ever show outside of Dallas at the regionally recognized Zach Scott Theatre in central Austin. 150 Austinites packed the jaw-droppingly beautiful space with anxious energy. “What is Oral Fixation? And what will a show about abortion be like? Not depressing I hope,” they may have been thinking. But the group of men and women who shared their own, true personal stories related to abortion took them on an emotionally positive and healing journey through women’s reproductive lives. After the performance, the lobby was buzzing with strangers greeting each other. With tears in their eyes, they shared deep gratitude to the storytellers for their courage in speaking out. Some people divulged their own abortion stories in show of support. The show in Austin was undoubtedly impactful and made even more special by the presence of two documentary film crews. Stay tuned for more #SweepOutTheShame to come!
Bringing Texans together to eradicate stigma & end restrictions on abortion by sharing abortion stories that have been swept under the rug.
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.
After learning that the baby she is carrying has a condition that is 100% incompatible with life, Valerie R. Peterson chooses abortion. Her experience was complicated by Texas’s HB2 legislation, which led her to become an advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Hear her story in “Out From Under The Rug.”
Dr. Valerie R. Peterson was born and raised in Chicago. New to Texas, Valerie has personally experienced the effects of House Bill 2, which limited women’s access to abortion services. Valerie’s mantras are “just watch me” and “I Believe, I Trust, I Let Go.” She currently resides in Austin.
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.
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.
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.
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.”