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Minnesota Fringe Festival

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If there had been no Holocaust, would Israel exist today? If not, how, if at all, would the world be different today? In search of answers, this anti-religious, devoutly agnostic secular Jew visits some of Europe's most notorious former death camps. What I bring home (on July 28th, a mere two days before the show opens) is whatever I find buried beneath the ashes of hate. This raw piece will be interactive, and demand a level of honesty from both performer and audience seldom seen on stage, even in a Fringe show.


Howard's outspoken blend of performance art and storytelling has made him a controversial fixture in the Twin Cities' performance world. His 2002 Fringe show, WELCOME TO MY BOMB SHELTER, received 14 rave reviews and 1 ill-tempered and obviously misguided scathing review. His 2004 show, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE , although a tad graphic, received only raves. His 2005 show, DANCING DIRTY WITH LEE AND MR. BO, was well received by all except for a certain crank at the Pioneer Press with the initials DP. His frolic with a masturbatory rat in Tom Cassidy's 2007 show, SHUT UP LOUDER, was a comedic tour de force. He was at it again in 2007 co-starring with Loren Niemi and Felix Hampton Brown in the critically acclaimed 1967, one of the few Fringe shows rated a MUST SEE by the Pioneer Press. In 2008, Howard played the role of a conservative Republican, which offended almost all who saw his and Loren Niemi's ALONE AND TESTIFYING, which made Howard feel like a proud father. In this year's show, DEATH CAMP DIARIES, Howard has decided to put his tendency toward sex and scatology on hold as he probes his convictions about religion and human despair.

DEATH CAMP DIARIES ...has an unprocessed rawness that makes a strong impact...The effect is chilling..." Minneapolis Star Tribune


The cast

Howard Lieberman
Role: The Guy On Stage

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Howard Lieberman/Jaded Optimist Productions

Death Camp Diaries

Thu., Jul. 30 @ 5:30 p.m.
Fri., Jul. 31 @ 8:30 p.m.
Sun., Aug. 2 @ 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Aug. 5 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sat., Aug. 8 @ 4:00 p.m.

Warning! Nudity, Violence, Adult language

Venue U of M Rarig Center Xperimental
For ages 15+
Created by Howard Lieberman
Web site
genres Solo, Spoken word
subjects Multicultural, Religious
features World premiere, Original script/choreography

Overall rating

User reviews

A personal journey
by Dave Romm Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A self-described "devoutly agnostic secular Jew" discovers he's a member of the tribe whether he wants to be or not. He goes to places in Europe made infamous by the Nazi death camps to see for himself just how people could do that to each other. He has no answers, and has only slightly better questions. This show is not for everyone; if you've already made up your mind, in either direction, stay away. Remembering the evil of the Nazis is relevant to the evil being perpetrated today, and if you care you will remember too.

This narrative is beyond ratings. I want to give it neither a zero nor a five, I just want it to be. For the sake of the Fringe website, I'm giving it five kitties, and feel I'm cheapening the experience. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Longer reviews with pictures at Baron Dave's LiveJournal and snarky comments on Facebook.

Powerful show
by Mark Ryan Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
My wife and I attended the Fringe Sampler a couple weeks ago and Howard's teaser was that he had absolutely nothing prepared but would be traveling with his rabbi to tour the death camps in Europe and promised he would come back with something worth seeing for the Fringe. We were both very intrigues by the idea, and Howard did not disappoint. We found him quite mesmerizing in this disturbingly sad, insightful, and powerful one-man show.

Howards bares his soul...and more
by vickijoan keck Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This performance is as raw and honest as I've ever seen Howard. Seeing this Posche driving lawyer reduced to the bare minimum on stage really brings home the effects of the holocaust, but not in an overly maudlin, hit you over the head with it way. This is the most tasteful and effective use of nudity on stage the I have EVER seen! Bravo Howard!

Death Camp Diaries.
by Joan Calof Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This courageous foray into deeply personal questions of identity succeeds marvelously. Howard has great stage presence as he explores his identity as a Jew with transparency and candor. I would like to see him expand this performance as I believe he has much more to say.

by Kristi Lawless Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I was worried that I was going to be propelled into an explosion of sadness and tears. I ended up feeling the horror and sadness of the Holocaust in a quieter way that will likely have me still pondering its questions for some time.

Not As Easy As It Looks...
by Larry Ripp Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Howard Lieberman sits at a table and talks. The fact that you are glued to his performance for 45 minutes at least is a testiment to his talent and ability to string together thoughts, emotions, experiance and new insights into an organic whole that just plain WORKS! This show works as theater, lecture, sermon and envelope pushing. Nudity? Sure and done in the most tasteful manner you can imagine. THAT'S thinking a piece through. Thanks Howard and for every else, take some time for this show. You Will Be A Better Person afterwards...

Guilt Trip
by Paula Nancarrow Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
What is the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist? And which one is Howard Lieberman – devout agnostic, secular Jew – as he “does” the Death Camps? Your guess is as good as Howard’s. Because clearly he identifies with both.

We know what a pilgrim is, don’t we? One whose journey into sacred space is a quest. A tourist – well, a tourist is just on vacation. A pilgrim encounters the Other. A tourist consumes it. Been there, done that. Got the t-shirt.

And yet the distinction is not so simple, and never has been. Nor is it simple for Howard. The honesty and ironic humor with which he explores that paradox in himself is one of the best elements of Death Camp Diaries.... [For the rest of this review, please go to

Great job !
by Les Kuykendall Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
I felt that Howard gave a very moving performance. I really enjoyed the storytelling and I actually learned a few things too.

The Naked Truth
by Reid Gagle Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
Howard tackles the holocaust, in reaction to a very recent tour of Nazi death camps. He skillfully interweaves the basic facts and his reactions to them, but the piece seemed a little raw. Perhaps it would have gained had his tour occurred months ago instead of days ago. When he tried to come up with a modern analogy, the best he could come up with was eating meat. Hello? Remember Rwanda? Sarajevo? Darfur? The killing fields of Cambodia?

Death Camp Diaries
by Alex Lubet Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
It is extremely difficult to pull of a Holocaust piece, but Howard Lieberman does it. Best if you just take my word for it and go without knowing any more than that. Not for the timid but not actually violent, contrary to the listing.

by Tim Voss Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Howard tells his story just the way he saw and felt it. Whether you like what you hear, or don't, it's honest and raw. It's also free of self-indulgence. I found it quite moving. Genocide is always evil. One caveat: Beware Howard's nudity. It's quite in keeping with the story; it's even necessary. But leave the little ones at home.

I want to see this show again in a year
by Kay Kirscht Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Am proud see the opener...and it is good (more like 3-1/2 kittehs); it has potential. "Death Camp" is a two-day-old show, written on the plane back from Poland. We paid to witness the raw impression...(and Howard was up to the challenge) *I* want the insight time will give his experience. Howard is agnostic - but his travel companions weren't. Did they find G*d in those camps? Did he? (This is Judaism's seething point, after all) If not - impressions, please. This show could go far deeper. In time, I want to see Howard start "Death Camp Diaries" as star performer...then step back and allow the disaster speak for itself *through* him. *That* is his next Rubicon.

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