IndyFringe: How Do You Read Me?

This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at

By John Lyle Belden

Howard Lieberman and Loren Niemi are master storytellers, in part because they speak candidly about their fairly long and interesting lives. In “How Do You Read Me?” they use deeply personal stories to confront our perceptions of what we think when we see a person with a particular look or in a specific situation.

Lieberman recalls returning from closing a big-money deal to see a homeless person on the street and giving the man a dollar. But Howard has had personal experience with homelessness, and he returns to the man, spending a day that realigns his life. Niemi recalls from his young adulthood, his own day spent with “Tommy the Wino,” the taste of Mad Dog 20/20, and the effect that lingered long past the alcohol.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get the same stories, but you might also hear about when the road took Lieberman to Boston, where a big man called La Diabla became his guardian angel. Then, there was the time Niemi badly mistook a first impression, gaining an enlightening lesson on how a person deals with an unusual and emotionally taxing life.

While, in the past, their stories typically elicit laughter, this time the humor is subtle, allowing room for the full range of appropriate emotions. “It’s worth the moment of seriousness,” they say, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Don’t judge this show by its “cover,” delve within and experience the richness of their stories. Remaining performances are 5:30 p.m. Thursday and 8:45 Saturday, Aug. 25 and 27, at the IndyFringe Theatre, 719 E. St. Clair.

IndyFringe: ‘Haunted – Tales Told and True’

This show is part of the 14th Annual Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival, a/k/a IndyFringe, Aug. 16-26, 2018 on Mass Ave downtown. Info, etc., at

By John Lyle Belden

Fringe audiences should be familiar with Loren Niemi, as he has been to past festivals telling stories with a political bent. This year, joined by fellow master storyteller Laura Packer, they choose not to frighten us with the occupant of the White House, but with more traditional forms of Ghost Stories.

Including tales some have sworn are true!

The pair take turns narrating their chillers, with different stories at each show. One is so original, in fact, that with suggestions from the audience, it is made up right on the spot — or is it? Niemi is so good, the story he improvised at the performance I saw sounded like it had been told for generations.

Packer likes to research local ghost lore in every town she visits, and I — a haunted Irvington resident — had not heard the one she told about a little store on North Meridian near Crown Hill. She also spoke about living in haunted houses — no doubt she’ll have something just as fascinating for you.

No campfire to sit around — it is the Firehouse union hall after all — but a nice time for those who don’t mind braving the bumps in the night.

IndyFringe: Bad Brother: Religion and Politics in ‘69

By Wendy Carson

With all of the current political discord in our country, there can be no better time to look back to the events of the late sixties and early seventies to see what can be learned from the successes and failures of those early radicals to change history.

Enter Loren Niemi, a former novitiate of the Christian Brothers, liberal thinker, political idealist and fighter on the front lines of history. He presents the tales of his life trying to balance his religious beliefs with his radical agendas and the fallout from those struggles.

These are stories of history that you won’t learn in school, yet are vital to be aware of, lest the social changes made are lost. Being such an engaging storyteller, Niemi not only holds your attention, he submerges you totally in the narrative.

So whether you lived through these times, were too young to have been aware of them, or are hoping to learn a thing or two, make sure you come out and follow Niemi down his patch to a sort of salvation.

Performances are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-28, at the Phoenix underground stage. Info and tickets at