Tuesday, August 21, 2018

IndyFringe '18: Spine-Chilling Fun with Loren Niemi and Laura Packer

Haunted: Told and True
Loren Niemi and Laura Packer, Minnesota

With Special Guest: Fringe Veteran Patron “Robin” 

What do people like? People like being scared.
--Loren Niemi and Laura Packer on choosing the topic for their new Fringe show “Haunted: Stories Told and True.” 

Veteran storytellers Loren and Laura return to IndyFringe with chilling true tales of “vampires, monsters, bad relationships, and life gone horribly wrong.” Each night they’ll tell four different ghost stories: three true and one improvised with prompts from the audience. 

On opening night, Loren set the stage with a chilling tale of growing up a Boy Scout in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the Eisenhower era, and the leaders who believed that suffering was the key in teaching boys to be men. Terrifying, huh? On one outing, his pack is tasked to trek day and night in the high desert without supervision and little in the way of food, shelter, and water. When they come across a dead body in a river, things take a turn for the worse. Next, Laura regaled the audience with a true ghost story from Indianapolis. Legend has it that circa 1940s in the Meridian Heights neighborhood, a woman dressed in a grey silky gown walked into a general store, frantically crying, and absconded with quarts of milk. This went on for several days. One day some men followed her…and she led them to the Crown Hill Cemetery to a terrifying scene. Next up, Loren took suggestions from the audience to spin a tale on the spot. His charge: a horse-drawn carriage, a glass-top coffin, and a serial killer. Great suggestions, even better story. I await the cinematic release. Finally, Packer told stories about living in a haunted house in Kansas City and about her husband passing away, then bringing her playful messages from the other side, assuring her was okay.

In the audience was Fringe patron Robin, someone we had seen at a few other shows over the weekend. Robin began attending IndyFringe six years ago with her husband. After her husband passed away a few years ago, she began inviting friends to join her, and now it’s an annual tradition for the trio. She typically sees about twenty (20!) shows per festival. As fate would have it, Robin grew up in the Meridian Heights neighborhood (now called MerKessler) and identified as the general store in the story as  “Hammacher’s,” which sat where CafĂ© Patachou on Illinois Street now resides.

When asked what drew her to Haunted, she said she’s always had a fascination with ghost stories. She was particularly moved by Laura’s sweet and personal story about her husband’s spirit visiting her. Although Robin has never experienced any visits beyond the grave, she offered that her sister sometimes had unnerving premonitions. One such premonition involved a horrible air disaster. Rattled by the image, her sister wound up cancelling a flight from Los Angeles to New York she had booked. Later that day, the news broke of the aircraft bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. 

One of Robin's favorite shows at IndyFringe this year is The Supersonic Suffrage Story You Never Heard in School. Now living on the North side, Robin is a loyal patron of local arts and sits on the board of several institutions, including the Heartland Film Festival and the Indianapolis Museum Art. Thank you, Robin, for supporting local art, and thank you Loren and Laura for giving the people what they want: a good case of heebies jeebies!

Loren, Robin, and Laura discuss the age-old lure of ghost stories

Haunted: Told and True
Tuesday Aug 21st, 6:00PM
Wednesday Aug 22nd, 7:30PM
Saturday Aug 25th, 3:00PM

Firefighter’s Union, 1st Floor
Improv Spoken Word Storytelling

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