Anticipating the 2009 Fringe: “55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation”

The 2009 Indy Fringe Festival parade is the day after tomorrow on Massachusetts Avenue here in Indianapolis, Indiana!  Yay!

Yup: I am really getting excited about this year’s Fringe.  As I go through my email box to read all of the press releases and notes that performers have sent me, and as I go through the Fringe program booklet (also available online at, I feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of fun things to do, see, hear, and enjoy during the Fringe.   How am I ever going to decide which shows to see?  I will see a lot, but even I will not be able to see all of them.  Still, this is a good problem to have.

One of the reasons that I am going to make sure I see Loren Niemi and Howard Lieberman’s storytelling show is that I know it will be different from any other Fringe show.  I admit that last year’s “Alone and Testifying” was the only the first time I had ever heard Howard tell (“Quick Notes” about that here) but I have heard Loren tell several times in several venues.  I have even taken a couple of very useful storytelling workshops from him.  He telling style is language-rich and he has a knack for unmasking connections.

Below is the press release that he sent me about “55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation.”  It has detailed information about each man’s background.  I am proud to know these guys!


Loren Niemi & Howard Lieberman

55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs & Audience Participation

@ the Phoenix Theater

749 North Park Ave 

Smoke ’em! Drink ’em! Head ’em up! Roll ’em out! The audience chooses one of the 20 “naughty bits” and nervous making topics from the big jar and we tell one or more wicked, funny, emotionally honest stories on the topic about the pleasures of forbidden love, wretched excess and making a good confession. We’ve got strippers, junkies, and nuns a plenty — getting oral, getting physical, getting it over with.  Oh, and for the brave or foolish in the audience, we’ll ask you want to be part of the story or stop us to ask a question as we go. We guarantee that no two performances will be the same. This is one part school of hard knocks experience mixed with a dash of improvisation and risk.  

Friday, August 21,  6:00 pm

Saturday, August 22,  7:30 pm

Tuesday, August 25,  9:00 pm

Thursday, August 27,  7:30 pm

Saturday, August 29,  9:00 pm

Sunday, August 30,  3:00 pm 

Howard Lieberman grew up on the North Side of Chicago with a professional tap dancer for a father and a math teacher for a mother, which may explain his wild mood swings. After leaving the wholesome Midwest to find fame and fortune as a corporate attorney in New York City, 20 years and one child later, Howard moved to Stillwater, MN with a New York accent and a jaded sense of humor.  

Although he makes his living as a headhunter for attorneys, his unique blend of performance art and storytelling has made him a fixture in the Twin Cities performance world. His MN Fringe work includes Welcome to My Bomb Shelter, (2002) When Worlds Collide, (2004) Dancing Dirty with Lee and Mr. Bo (2005) His frolic with a masturbatory rat in Tom Cassidy’s 2006 MN Fringe show, Shut Up Louder, was a comedic tour de forceHoward was at it again in 2007 co-starring with Loren Niemi and Felix Hampton Brown in the critically acclaimed 1967, one of the few shows rated MUST SEE by the Pioneer Press.   

Last year Howard and Loren teamed up to present Alone & Testifying and both the Minnesota and Indianapolis Fringe festivals. The experience was joyful enough to have them come back to Indianapolis with this year’s improvisation on wickedness, 55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation. 

His 2008 MN Fringe show, Death Camp Diaries, was one of the most talked about shows in the MN Fringe earning rave reviews from both on-line reviewers and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which said the show “…has an unprocessed rawness that makes a strong impact…The effect is chilling…” 

“It is entertaining and engaging…. Think of a less-angry Lewis Black, passionately discussing his worldly experiences.” –  Andrew Roberts NUVO Indy’s alternative voice 

Loren Niemi has spent thirty years as a professional storyteller, creating, collecting, teaching and telling stories to audiences of all ages. From performing on the Great Wall of China to collecting oral histories on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota or working with artists and social workers to tell stories of “the Troubles” in Belfast, Northern Ireland Loren lives the storied life he puts on stage.  

His work has been called “postmodern,” “on the cutting edge of storytelling,” “with the dark beauty of language that is not ashamed of poetry.” It is, as Denver storyteller and critic, Kate Lutz said, “a sensibility that owes more to the New Yorker than to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.” 

He has preformed ten times in the Minnesota Fringe Festival with a range of solo, duo and ensemble work s well as directing four other performer’s Fringe productions. His solo and ensemble work includes:

– Moby Dick Tonight! (2009)

– Alone & Testifying (with Howard Lieberman) (2008)

– 1967 (with Felix Brown & Howard Lieberman) (2007)

– But Who Am I to Say? (with Diane Wyzga) (2005)

– Alone and Testifying (2004)

– Beauty/Beast (with Megan Wells) (2003)

– Aberrations of Coitus Exoticus, (with Elysabeth Ashe) (2002)

– Words Spoken (2001)

– The Shitty Things We’ve Done (with Colleen Kruse) (1997)

– Maiden Voyage (with the Cheap Theatre ensemble) (1996) 

Loren is the producer of Two Chairs Telling, a widely admired storytelling series that pairs storytellers/hip-hop/narrative and spoken word artists across age, sex, genre and style.  

He is the author of The Book of Plots, published by Llumina Press, on the uses of narrative in shaping stories and the co-author, with Elizabeth Ellis, of Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories, from August House Publishers, the critically acclaimed text on the value and necessity of telling the stories that are hard to speak and uncomfortable to hear. 

Loren has a BA (Philosophy and Studio Arts) from St. Mary’s University (Winona, MN) and a MA in Liberal Studies (American Culture) from Hamline University (St. Paul, MN). He teaches Storytelling in the Theater Department of Metropolitan State University (St. Paul, MN) as well as providing storytelling workshops and organizational consulting around the country. 



I am having trouble transferring the photos Lauren sent me, so for now I’m just going to post the text.

‘See you at the Fringe very soon!

Hope Baugh – and @IndyTheatre on

2 thoughts on “Anticipating the 2009 Fringe: “55 Minutes of Sex, Drugs and Audience Participation””

  1. Hi Hope. Thanks for the good review, but my name is Howard Lieberman, not Howard Lieberstein. Oh well. 🙂

  2. Hi, Howard. At first I didn’t know what you were talking about, but then I saw that even though I had spelled your name correctly in this post, I had NOT spelled it correctly in the post a few days later, which I wrote after I saw your full show.

    I fixed it. I apologize for the mistake!

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