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This project was successfully funded on April 18, 2017

Squeeze My Cans. A midwest girls journey into Scientology and back out again.

by Cathy Schenkelberg, Shirley Anderson, Brett Newton


Her introduction to the cult was innocent enough, as a young adult looking for purpose and answers for her life. Then one day a friend took her out for coffee …. for almost 10 hours. 

The Church of $cientology had actress Cathy Schenkelberg for the majority of her adult life; it took 5 years for her to escape in the face of harassing phone calls, midnight knocks on her door by "outreach" staffers, an expensive custody battle and social rejection. "Many of the people who went as far as I did in the Church, lost everything: family, friends, homes, bank accounts, sanity, identities and their actual lives." In her original solo show Squeeze My Cans, Cathy shares a glimpse behind the velvet curtain of this strangely hilarious and unbelievably horrifying story of loss, isolation, manipulation and the relentless power of survival through persistence and humor.

"Squeeze My Cans," began as collection of auto-biographical short stories, performed in various Chicago and Los Angeles spoken word venues. One evening, a phone call with Shirley Anderson transformed these stories into a 75-minute, multi-media theatrical production. Originally workshopped at the Lifeline Theater's "Fillet of Solo" festival, "Squeeze My Cans" performed at the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles, enjoying sold-out houses and positive reviews from critics and audience alike. The show is returning to the Greenhouse Theater Center for a 4-week run in Chicago and has received invitations from 12 cities across the country, as well as interest abroad. 

To anyone who's curious about the Church of $cientology, to anyone who lost themselves trying to find themselves or who feels ashamed or embarrassed at being conned through the best of intentions, "Squeeze My Cans" will make you laugh, gasp, cry and think and laugh. The fundraising goal of $25,000 enables the production to use the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to catapult the show to wider audiences internationally. Any funds raised in excess of $25,000 helps "Squeeze My Cans" reach the U.S. cities interested in booking the production on a limited budget and repay personal investors.

Thank you so much for your attention, love and support. If this show can enlighten and prevent others from stepping into Scientology, this theatrical effort has been more than worth it.  

Here is a budget breakdown of the project:


Match Funds are not currently available.

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    • February 21, 2017 Cathy Schenkelberg, Shirley Anderson, Brett Newton Artist

      Just wanted to share my director's note written for the program by the Greenhouse Theater Center. I think it conveys the larger purpose of this project and the larger reason why the show should tour, both to Edinburgh and beyond. "I answered a call from Cathy last October: she needed a director and I needed to make some new work. We both needed to grapple with an issue much larger than us; how, in our darkest hours, when we desperately search for meaning, purpose and belonging, we find those who promise answers, say what we want to hear and vow to lead us down a path to peace and happiness. Many of us believe that the answers to life's questions are 'out there'. Scientology is one of many organizations that are 'out there' promising answers. Cathy and her story represents one of many about the rendering of time, funds, friends & family in search of herself and her place in the world. This is a cautionary tale about an Everywoman who sought answers, purpose and belonging in all the wrong places. It's our greatest hope to share this story with the 20-somethings who are starting their journey as adults, questioning their choices, making mistakes, meeting with frustration, despair and uncertainty about themselves and their futures." There is much more to say on this, but "Squeeze My Cans" is an open door to this conversation for anyone searching and anyone having searched.