Solo festival show sheds light on Scientology from former member
When Cathy Schenkelberg was in her early 20s, like many of her peers, she was searching for some meaning in her life, a way to give back, a way to make the world a better place. So when she interviewed for the Peace Corps, it felt like a step in the right direction.
‘Squeeze My Cans’
When: To July 24
Where: Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln
But instead, Schenkelberg went in what she now sees as the opposite direction and began a long and troubling relationship with Scientology, the cult-like religion that courts big names in Hollywood (Tom Cruise, John Travolta) but also recruits everyday people. Now the actress is telling her side of the Scientology experience in her one-woman show, “Squeeze My Cans,” a cautionary tale that addresses the strange pull of Scientology on the vulnerable.
The 75-minute show, which is part of Solo Celebration at the Greenhouse Theater (an earlier version debuted at Lifeline Theatre’s Fillet of Solo Festival), details how Schenkelberg was indoctrinated into the Scientology labyrinth, how she got out and how difficult that was to accomplish. Where the recent documentary, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief“ digs into the intricate inner working of Scientology, “Squeeze My Cans,” is a more personal journey that is both humorous and shocking.
“It’s a dark and funny show,” Schenkelberg says. “Scientology told me exactly what I wanted to hear. ‘You want to help the planet; we are the group. We are the only hope for mankind.’ And I believed it all.”
Director Shirley Anderson feels the show is “powerful in its subversiveness.” Schenkelberg simply tells her story and shows the events as they happened.
“Cathy doesn’t try to damn or blame this organization, but merely shows how and why she got so sucked in,” Anderson adds. “I believe there is power in allowing an audience to draw their own conclusions.”
Schenkelberg was 23, fresh out of college and working as an actress/waitress in Chicago when she signed up for her first Scientology auditing course. (The show’s title refers to the electronic device that’s like a lie detector and used to counsel or audit a person.)
“I was spiritually searching,” recalls Schenkelberg. “I was attending a Methodist church but also drumming on North Ave. beach and studying crystals. And then a woman I really admired introduced me to Scientology and I thought it sounded cool. Now I look back and realize how vulnerable I was at that age.”
That first course cost her $35. By the end of her 18 years in Scientology, Schenkelberg says she had spent an unbelievable $983,000 (this amount is tallied on a board as her story unfolds): “I was slowly indoctrinated, and there was always another more expensive level that was being sold as very important. It was very hard to walk away.”
Deep into her years in Scientology, Schenkelberg was on a career high making well into the six figures doing voice overs and commercial work. She also was Pepper the Clown on “The Bozo Show.” (“The church actually pinpointed Bozo as a ‘suppressive person’,” she says with a laugh, referring to the term Scientology uses to describe “antisocial personalities.”)
In the show, Schenkelberg demonstrates how Scientology strips away everything in a person’s life not connected to the church until there is nothing left for them but to serve the organization. She had reached the upper levels of Scientology’s courses but she says when she experienced a downward swing in her career and the money dried up she was shunned by the religion.
“There was no more money to get from me and that’s when I really saw that I was in a group that was truly evil,” she says, adding, “Their claim to be ‘the only hope for mankind’ was false.”
Schenkelberg’s story is a relatable cautionary tale, notes Anderson.
“My greatest hope is to try to expose some of these mind-control techniques which are pervasive in many cultures and organizations not just Scientology so that anyone experiencing Cathy’s story might say to themselves, ‘That happened to me,’ or ‘That could happen to me’ or ‘I won’t let that happen to me’.”
Schenkelberg says she uses “Squeeze My Cans” as her own unique form of therapy.
“I’m not upset about the money but I am upset about all the lost time. That makes me the saddest,” she says. “It’s the one thing I battle with because I can’t get those years back. Now I’ve returned to acting and I’m making up for lost time. It’s therapy for my soul.”
Mary Houlihan is a local freelance writer.
a technique I think all journalists should use when talking to a scientologist!
Tom Cruise, 54, looks in his element as he films dramatic scenes with Chris Martin’s girlfriend Annabelle Wallis for The Mummy in London
And Tom Cruise looked in his element as he was pictured filming new scenes for The Mummy in London.
Seen in dramatic chase shots with co star Annabelle Wallis who is Chris Martin’s girlfriend, the 54-year-old appeared to put on an impressive performance.
Clad in a navy shirt, jeans and boots the American star was seen poised for action as he stood alongside 31-year-old English actress Annabelle.
The blonde beauty put on a casual display in a loose white shirt and navy trousers, sporting action-ready Timberland-style boots and a loose chestnut-coloured coat.
Wearing her hair loose, she showed off her pretty bone structure under simple make-up.
Run! Seen in dramatic chase scenes with co star Annabelle Wallis, who is Chris Martin’s girlfriend, the 54-year-old appeared to put on an impressive performance
This action packed film calls for some serious footwear, and Annabelle was dressed for the part in classic Timberland boots which accessorised her low key navy trousers and white tee combo.
A pair of classic Timberland are both stylish and practical and they’ll most definitely stand the test of time!
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Ready: Clad in a navy shirt, jeans and boots the American star was seen poised for action as he stood alongside 31-year-old English actress Annabelle
The blonde beauty put on a casual display in a loose white shirt and navy trousers, sporting action-ready Timberland-style boots and a loose chestnut-coloured coat
In dramatic scenes the duo can be seen running down a London street, with petrified expressions on their faces.
They was also seen getting into the role by discussing their script with other members of the crew.
The plot of the film is thought to be similar to the original version where a dead and buried ancient queen – played by Sofia Boutella – is awakened in the current day, bringing with her malevolence and terrors that have been brewing inside her for over a millennium.
According to the movie synopsis, Tom plays Navy Seal Tyler Colt who goes on a mission in the Iraqi desert to find a group of terrorists hiding out in a bunker.
Calm before the storm: In dramatic scenes the duo can be seen running down a London street, with petrified expressions on their faces
Bonding: They was also seen getting into the role by discussing their script with other members of the crew
Classic: The plot of the film is thought to be similar to the original version where a dead and buried ancient queen – played by Sofia Boutella – is awakened in the current day
Yes sir! According to the movie synopsis, Tom plays Navy Seal Tyler Colt who goes on a mission in the Iraqi desert to find a group of terrorists hiding out in a bunker
However their prey turn out to be mere grave robbers who have all magically died, and when they go inside the bunker Tyler and his team also succumb to some mystical forces out of their control, which is when they realise they are actually in an ancient tomb.
While his men end up turning on each other, Tom’s character is the only one make it all the way deep within the tomb alive and find an ominous black iron sarcophagus.
After he tries to open it he is stabbed in the palm and his mind is cursed with visions of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, more informally known as The Mummy.
The film is part of Universal’s Monsters Universe franchise, which kicked off with 2014’s Dracula Untold, which was met with mixed reviews.
Other actors involved in the movie include Jake Johnson and Courtney B Vance.
Cut! Other actors involved in the movie include Jake Johnson and Courtney B Vance
Warming up: Tom’s character is the only one make it all the way deep within the tomb alive and find an ominous black iron sarcophagus
Fit! After he tries to open it he is stabbed in the palm and his mind is cursed with visions of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, more informally known as The Mummy
looks like future of scientology is in good hands….
Night on the town! Katie Holmes looks leggy in a pretty romper as she is escorted by mystery man during fun outing in NYC
So doing as any single girl would in New York, Katie Holmes enjoyed a rare night out on the town on Tuesday, looking gorgeous and leggy in a patterned romper.
The brunette beauty appeared to be having a fun night as she was pictured getting some assistance navigating a sidewalk in her stilettos from a helpful male companion.
Girl about town: Katie Holmes looked gorgeous as she was spotted out in New York during a night out this week
The 37-year-old actress, who recently completed filming TV show The Kennedys After Camelot, showed off her fabulous pins in the skimpy backless garment.
She accentuated her legs in some beige suede ankle-strap heels with patent details.
From the front it looked like a layered mini dress with halterneck straps and a cut-out on her torso.
She wore her glossy brunette locks loose and opted for a toned down makeup look.
Earlier in the evening the Batman Begins star was pictured leaving a restaurant in downtown Manhattan and happily posed for onlookers to show off her pretty outfit.
Chivalry’s not dead! The 37-year-old actress had a helping hand from a mystery guy as she navigated the sidewalk in her heels
Backless beauty: Katie looked fantastic in a patterned romper with suede heels
Killing time: The Dawson’s Creek star was pictured looking cheerful as she waited in the lobby of a building
Last week fans reported seeing Katie, who was in Canada for work, enjoying an intimate dinner date with her rumoured beau Jamie Foxx in Toronto.
While Jamie, 48, didn’t post anything on social media about his trip, a fan of the Ray star shared a selfie with the actor in a clothing boutique in the city.
According to etalk Katie and Jamie were spotted at Kasa Moto Japanese restaurant on Thursday night.
Following the cozy dinner witnesses say Katie was escorted through a back exit by her assistant while Jamie exited another door.
Daydreamer: The mother-of one appeared lost in thought for a moment
The actor apparently jetted out of town straight after dinner and days later he was pictured in New York making an appearance at Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato’s concert in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Katie was back in Canada last week to finish post-production on the episode of The Kennedys: After Camelot that she directed.
The rendezvous follows claims by actress Claudia Jordan, who is said to be a good friend of Jamie’s, that he and Katie are ‘very happy’ together.
Bold prints: Katie accessorised with a black and white Tod’s shoulder bag
Lost in her thoughts: The ex-wife of Tom Cruise toyed with her hair as she waited in the lobby
She later backtracked on her comment saying she ‘misspoke’ during the Allegedly podcast and insisted she has no knowledge of their so-called coupling.
The persistent reports of Katie and Jamie dating and even planning to wed have refused to die down since the two were seen dancing together at a charity event in 2013, despite official denials by each of them.
Katie shares 10-year-old daughter Suri with ex-husband Tom Cruise.
Glowing: Katie was spotted leaving a restaurant earlier in the evening
Natural beauty: The actress opted for a natural makeup look
Tom Cruise and daughter Suri have not been photographed for years, and unfortunately, reports about their alleged reunion turned out to be false. According to such reports, the Mummy actor is plotting the ultimate revenge on former wife Katie Holmes, and that plot involves their only daughter.
However, Gossip Cop corrected the stories claiming of Cruise and daughter Suri’s joyful reunion. Last December, the same publication also contradicted stories about the father-daughter tandem’s rumored Christmas reunion.
The Mission Impossible star recently sold the Beverly Hills abode he used to share with Holmes. He purchased the mansion in 2007. The property, which is situated in a gated estate, has seven bedrooms and has amenities for children including a swimming pool and a playground.
On Father’s Day, Cruise’s absence from Holmes and Suri’s date was likewise pointed out by the press. It is believed that Cruise is busy working for his new film, Mummy, in Morocco.
Cruise allegedly says that his busy workload prevents him from seeing his 10-year-old. An update from InTouch, however, claims that he hasn’t seen Suri in the flesh for more than a thousand days because of his own decision to stay away.
“They used to Skype and text, but that trailed off drastically. He uses his film commitments as an excuse, but the truth is that doesn’t hold much weight with Suri anymore.”
It is believed that Cruise is only honoring the orders of the Scientology Church to sever his ties with his excommunicated family. The said religion forbids its members from having close associations with former Scientologists or those labeled as “suppressive persons.”
Members in good standing must follow this “disconnection” policy. Scientology believes that this process is essential for a member’s spiritual progress. A member might not grow spiritually if he or she remains connected to someone who contradicts the tenets of the religion.
Cruise and Holmes tied the knot in 2006 with Scientology honcho David Miscavige as their best man. After five years of being married, the Dawson’s Creek actress filed for divorce in a bid to save her daughter from Scientology, but what was she saving Suri from?
Children like Suri are not exempted from undergoing a “security checking.” This sec checking entails the use of a special interrogation device. An “ethics officer” asks a child a series of questions penned by founder L. Ron Hubbard himself.
One purpose of the interrogation is to determine if the child knows someone in his or her circle who might have covert hostilities against the religion. Sec checking also forces a child to reveal intimate details about him or her.
Nonetheless, the final straw for Holmes was her then husband’s reported plan to send Suri to Sea Org – an elite group within the religion that comes with stricter policies. Holmes wanted to protect Suri that even Miscavige’s niece, Jenna, who left the Church in 2005, issued a statement in support of Holmes’ decision.
“My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive. I was allowed to see my parents only once a week at best — sometimes not for years. We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labor, long hours, forced confessions, being held in rooms, not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child. As a mother myself, I offer my support to Katie and wish for her all the strength she will need to do what is best for her and her daughter.”
Cruise has yet to address the issues concerning his physical absence in Suri’s life. Reports have emerged that the former couple might again face each other for an “explosive showdown in court.”
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/3296989/tom-cruise-and-daughter-suri-not-reunited-despite-reports-that-mummy-actor-will-snatch-her-back-from-katie-holmes/#TvMstCauOcJs83Rx.99
If you watched Anthony Anderson and the Gilmore Girls chick (“Have some respect, you uneducated bitch!” – you Gilmore Girls fans) announce the Emmy nominations live this morning, then you’ve probably switched from drinking coffee to freebasing Valium. Because Anthony Anderson had the energy of an ADHD-having Mexican jumping bean on Red Bull and speed. Anthony screamed a bunch of names and nearly lost his asshole when he was nominated. It’s just the Emmys! Dude acted like he just found out there’s an It’s A Living marathon on basic cable. But anyway, as I put ice on my punched ear holes with one hand, let’s get to the Emmy nominations.
Of course, Game of Thrones pulled in the most nominations with 23, and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story got the second most with 22 nominations. Pretty much every single actor and prop from The People v. O.J. Simpson were nominated including Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sterling K. Brown, John Travolta and David Schwimmer for his performance as serious Ross Geller in a salt and pepper wig. But they left out the most important character and the reason why most of us watched: John Travolta’s breathtaking turd-shaped brow wigs! As soon as the Emmy tricks realized that John Travolta’s boomerang brows weren’t nominated, they should’ve declared this year’s nominations null and void and canceled the ceremony. Maybe they’re giving those brows a Lifetime Achievement In Beauty Award? But if they don’t, any actor who wins from that series needs to immediately hand over their trophy to those wigs, because those wigs held that show together with its thick polyester strands.
Lady Gaga won the Golden Globe for American Horror Story: Hotel, but I guess she didn’t write a big enough check this time, because she didn’t get an Emmy nom. Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates both got noms for AHS. And this year, the Emmys really belong to AUNT JACKIE! Laurie Metcalf got 3 nominations including one for the work of brilliance she did on one of the greatest shows ever Getting On. Auntie Jackie is the Hamilton of TV actresses and she deserves to be nominated in every category, so 3 is kind of low.
Also, Tom Hiddleston was nominated for The Night Manager, so if he and Taylor Swift haven’t married, had a baby and divorced by September, make sure you eat a light lunch on Emmy day. You’ll be heaving a lot when he drops to his knee on the red carpet and proposes to her as she gently caresses her pillow baby.
UPDATE: In my rage over Travolta’s brow wigs getting wrongly snubbed, I missed RuPaul getting his first nomination for Outstanding Host for RuPaul’s Drag Race. Along with nominating Laurie Metcalf 3 times this year, the Emmys did 2 things right this year. I hope Ru wears a kimono to the ceremony.
Tom Cruise is quite short. Hugh Jackman is utterly charming. Marion Cotillard is so exquisite I wondered if she travels with her own teeny-tiny lighting designer, concealed somewhere in her flawless hair. And Julie Andrews is, of course, practically perfect in every way.
Over my years as movie critic at The Seattle Times, I’ve met and interviewed a surprising number of movie stars. It’s not my favorite part of the job — I’m shy, and firing questions at strangers never feels quite right — but it’s the thing people most ask about. So it seemed appropriate, as I celebrate 15 lucky years at my job this month, to revisit a few favorite interviews.
I’ll stick with just actors for this go-round, though I’ve also talked to scores of directors (Ava DuVernay, you are a gem), writers (Nick Hornby, you are a delight) and — my personal jam — costume designers. (I once spent half an hour on the phone with the designer for “Downton Abbey,” which was heaven on a bonnet.)
Most of my face-to-face interviews have taken place at the Toronto International Film Festival, though a few have happened here in Seattle. They are odd, choreographed little encounters, generally set in a posh hotel suite or an anonymous conference room. Consequently, I’ve visited numerous accommodations that I could never afford, and one day will be publishing my memoir of Handsome Famous Men With Whom I Have Been Alone In A Hotel Room. Maybe I can start some juicy rumors. (I’ll never forget you, Clive Owen. I suspect you’ve forgotten me, though.)
The interviews are arranged by movie publicists — no, I don’t contact the stars directly, nor can I give you their email addresses even if you ask nicely — and I agree to them only after seeing the film being promoted, to ensure it isn’t a dog. (Speaking of which, I was once offered an interview with a dog — one of the Air Buds, a while back. Declined!)
Usually I’m promised 20 or 30 minutes; the reality is sometimes less. “I’ll give you 20, Moira,” said a smiling Saoirse Ronan at TIFF last year for “Brooklyn,” after a publicist announced I could only have 15; solidarity, perhaps, between two women with vowel-laden Irish names.
And, though you’d probably love to hear some juicy firsthand dish, the truth is that movie stars tend to be quite polite and professional in interviews. They are, after all, actors — and if an actor can’t pretend to be pleasant for 20 minutes with a well-behaved journalist, he or she should probably consider another line of work.
But some are more pleasant then others. Jackman, whose charm is legendary, spoke to me at the tail end of a long day of back-to-back interviews for his 2013 movie “Prisoners,” and yet made me feel as if all my questions were fascinating. (Give him all the Oscars!) Robert Duvall, in town to talk about his 2003 film “Assassination Tango,” demonstrated the tango for me, dodging the coffee table in the hotel suite.
Jodie Foster lit up when asked about favorite books (she loves John Fowles’ “The Magus”); likewise, Jude Law (“Anna Karenina,” 2012) seemed delighted to talk about Tolstoy. Colin Farrell cheerfully admitted to having been up most of the night drinking — and, at the end of our 2002 interview, grabbed the next journalist and headed for the hotel bar, apologizing for having not taken me there. (“I’m sorry, luv, I should have thought of it.”) He genuinely seemed to enjoy being interviewed: “I mean, I’ve never met you, you’ve never met me, it’s golden. It’s brilliant.”
It can be surreal to meet someone who you know only as a character. As a huge “Mad Men” fan, I was delighted to talk to Jon Hamm in 2010 — who, with scruffy beard, plaid shirt and friendly informality, couldn’t have been less like Don Draper. The encounter put me in such a cheery mood that I promptly tripped and fell inelegantly on the Toronto sidewalk after leaving the hotel; not noticing, with my head in the clouds, a gaping hole in the concrete. (I named the resultant gash on my knee the Jon Hamm Scar.)
Daniel Radcliffe, three years post-“Harry Potter,” talked of his eagerness to “prove to people that I’m an actor and not just a character.” He was fast-talking, bursting with jittery energy, extraordinarily polite and clearly excited by what the future might hold.
Some people seem simply larger than life, because we know their faces on a big screen so well. “Hi, I’m Tom,” said Tom Cruise, highly unnecessarily — who else could he be? Talking to him is a weirdly heightened (yes, he’s short) experience; he’s very polite and engaged, but turned up to 11. He also, at one point, learned the technique of repeating a person’s name at the front of every sentence, and used mine repeatedly, i.e. “Well, Moira, that’s a good question …”
And some are just so astonishingly good-looking that it’s hard not to stare. Cotillard, Owen, Penélope Cruz, Chris Pine, just to name a few, have eyes to get lost in. Others wear outfits that delightfully distract: Gary Oldman’s purple velvet blazer, Stephen Fry’s green suit, Keira Knightley’s red-sequined day dress. (“It’s not mine,” she said modestly.)
It can be great fun to talk to an up-and-comer; someone who hasn’t yet learned how to give those vague, sound-bitey answers that veterans like Cruise do so well. Gabourey Sidibe, Oscar-nominated for “Precious,” was downright giggly during our interview, telling how she almost skipped the audition for her film debut because she was supposed to be in class at New York’s City College. A teenage America Ferrera came to Seattle with her 2002 debut “Real Women Have Curves,” and a just-out-of-her-teens Emily Blunt came to the 2004 Seattle International Film Festival with “My Summer of Love”; both seemed charming and a little overwhelmed.
Though all of the encounters above were in person, some interviews happen by phone. The mellifluous voices of Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Hugh Grant have all been in my ear (yes, they sound divine).
I’ve talked two-on-one with a pair of great Dames (Judi Dench and Maggie Smith; they call each other Jude and Mags); chatted with Debbie Reynolds about the 50th anniversary of “Singin’ in the Rain”; listened as Viola Davisspoke of the inspirations for her performance in “The Help”; and heard the immortal words, upon picking up the phone, “Hi, Moira, it’s Robert Redford.” (Usually the calls are placed by publicists, but Redford, a pro, apparently knows how to dial his own.)
I’ve saved the best for last. For years, people have asked who my dream interview would be, and I had one answer: Julie Andrews, whose movies I adored as a child (and still do) and whose career and memoir were models of talent and grace. A few years ago, it happened: Dame Julie came to Seattle on a book tour (she writes children’s books with her daughter, Emma Walton), and I managed to schedule some time with her, in a nondescript storage/conference room at the University Bookstore.
I don’t usually get nervous before interviews, but before that one — on a Saturday morning — I overprepared, dressed carefully (what would you wear to meet your childhood idol?) and fretted. No need; she was gracious, kind and utterly delightful, asking me for movie recommendations and speaking frankly about her greatest stage challenge (Eliza in “My Fair Lady”), working with her husband Blake Edwards, and her great good fortune in having transitioned from English vaudeville as a child to a distinguished film career.
“I’m a lucky girl,” she said. Me, too.