By Dee Jae Cox
In a wonderful show of comradery, Dezart Performs teamed up with the Desert Rose Playhouse on October 7th and 8th, for an amazing night of theatre, showcasing Actress/Writer, Cathy Schenkelberg’s One Woman Show, Squeeze my Cans – Surviving Scientology. Produced by Dezart and presented at the Desert Rose Playhouse stage, the two-night event was a benefit for Dezart and ‘The Scott Smith Scholarship,’ a memorial fund established in honor of beloved Desert actor/director, Scott Smith. The scholarship is awarded to two Palm Springs High School students in order to aid their pursuit of higher education in the performing arts.
Squeeze My Cans, is a funny, poignant and eye-opening revelation of one woman’s experience inside the world of Scientology. Shenkelberg’s writing is sharp, witty and sometimes shocking. Her acting is mesmerizing and engaging. She brings it all together for one hell of a good show. Shirley Anderson, directs this wonderful stage piece and with minimal set or props, the underbelly of Scientology is exposed through top notch acting and direction.
Scientology is a body of religious beliefs and practices that were invented in 1952 by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard. Scientologists believe that people are immortal alien beings (called thetans) who have forgotten their true nature and are trapped on earth in a human body. Xenu (/ˈziːnuː/), also called Xemu, was, according to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who 75 million years ago brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as “Teegeeack”) in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Not surprising, there tends to be a lot of controversy around this religion and their cult like practices.
Cathy Schenkelberg spent fourteen years of her young adult life immersed in what she describes as a trip down the volcanic rabbit hole, otherwise known as Scientology. She states that, “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.” Schenkelberg, a highly successful voice-over artist, confirmed through receipts that she herself gave almost a million dollars to this organization before she was able to break away. Regaining control of her life took another five years, due to the on-going phone calls and midnight outreach workers whose mission was to bring her back into the fold.
Schenelberg describes the show as a strangely hilarious and unbelievably horrifying story of loss, isolation, manipulation and the relentless power of survival through persistence and humor. Squeeze My Cans, epitomizes what artists do best, showcasing life in all of its ugly glory. For more information on the show or the artist, visit her site. www.squeezemycans.com
Coming up next for Dezart is Hand To God, November 8th – November 17th. Where The Exorcist meets Sesame Street! Starring, Roy Abramsohn, Danny Gomez, Eddie Vona, Brenna Williams and Yo Younger. Directed by Michael Shaw.
For Mature Audiences.
Dezart Performs, located at the Palm Springs Women’s Club, 314 S Cahuilla Rd, Palm Springs, CA
For show and ticket information: www.dezartperforms.org
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project.