Loren Niemi Presents


June 29 - 30, 2018

Loren Niemi: creator/storyteller

Loren Niemi2.jpg

Are there parallels between the circumstances of late ‘60’s and our current political/social stresses? That question is one of the considerations that underpins BAD BROTHER: RELIGION & POLITICS IN '68.

While it begins with a joke: “For seven years I was a member of a Catholic religious order — you know poverty, celibacy and obedience — I was good at one of them...” the performance is focused on what it means to be politically active in a time of profound change both inside the Catholic church and in an America choosing sides around issues of war and peace, race and civil rights, and generational shifts in values and culture. How did Loren enter the Christian Brothers as a Catholic and leave as a bad Buddhist with an FBI file?

An important part of the story is the trail of the Milwaukee 14, Catholic radicals who entered a draft board office, removed 5000 A-1 files, burned then and waited for arrest. Though Loren was not a defendant, he knew several of them, most notably, Brother K. Basil O’Leary who was a member of the same religious order.  Sitting next to him in the courtroom at the trial of the Milwaukee 14 was David Darst, also a Christian Brother, who had already gone to trial for burning draft files in Catonsville, Maryland and been convicted. Inside the sweltering courtroom both gallows humor and larger questions of war, peace and justice played out.

“Bad Brother” is, in part, Loren's testimony to the lives of those two men.

Within six months, David would be dead, Basil would be in prison and Loren would be arguing that Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker philosophy was a better model of service to the poor than teaching in suburban schools or weekends on the golf course. In the end it was that argument that would get me thrown out of the religious order for being politically radical and “faithful” to my vow of poverty.

Loren Niemi is an innovative storyteller, published poet, the author of "The New Book of Plots" and co-author with Elizabeth Ellis of the critically acclaimed, "Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories." He has been performing solo and duo performances in Fringe Festivals around the country since 1995 and for 25 years performed with Michael Sommers and Kevin Kling in the performance art trio BAD JAZZ.

NUVO review of BAD BROTHER at the Indy Fringe 8/23/16:

"Loren Niemi’s autobiographical storytelling is intense and personal at the same time. He recounts how he ended up at Catholic seminary, and how his journey evolved, eventually shaping him into a Buddhist antiwar demonstrator. Everything was changing in that decade—it was post Vatican II, and Vietnam was on the horizon. Catholicism and the country were torn between the past and the future, with causalities on both sides confusing the present. While racism, 'post-riot architecture,' and the questionable morals of the church and country are at the heart of his story, the seemingly inconsequential details bring counterbalance to the performance’s serious subject matter, such as Niemi smoking a joint during visiting hours in a minimum-security prison with 62-year-old Brother Basil, who had been imprisoned (for burning draft files with the Milwaukee 14). History buffs, lapsed Catholics, and antiwar supporters will find much to enjoy in this show." — Lisa Gauthier Mitchison


$12 —  General Admission
$10  —  Students/Seniors
A limited number of $10 Economic Accessibility tickets are available online. Pay as able at the door.
View our ticketing policy

Performance Schedule
June 29, 7:30pm
June 30, 7:30pm

Runtime: 60-65 minutes (no intermission)
Recommended for ages 16 and up.

Contact Open Eye at audienceservices@openeyetheatre.org or 612-874-6338 for accessibility information.

Please be aware that ongoing construction on 35W and surrounding streets and bridges will affect your route to Open Eye. Please allow extra time getting to the theatre. We recommend using map apps to navigate to the theatre, following posted detour signs, and consulting MNDOT for current projects at dot.state.mn.us/35w94.