Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011

My Fringe

Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee

Seth Lepore

From Westhampton, Mass.

Written by Seth Lepore

Producer's website

Solo show, Comedy, Drama, Satire

Contains Adult language

For ages 12+

"Part of your brain is reminding you that this is a Fringe show mocking exploitative "self-help" programs, but another part will be telling you to sign up for what the gurus are offering. That's the strange danger of these characters, and Lepore conveys it with a precise, polished, unfailingly entertaining performance." Jay Gabler, Twin Cities Daily Planet

A hysterical romp through America’s spiritual enterprise. The show exposes the blurry line between self-help and faith. Yoga gurus, healthy chocolate peddlers and Buddhists with God complexes ego-trip their way toward absurdity.  

Based on his own spiritual journey, which saw him leave the Catholic Church as a teenager and meander for over 20 years through Buddhism and a host of other isms, the monologue juxtaposes wickedly funny and insightful characterizations of the people he has met along the way with thoughtful commentary on his own spiritual seeking.

The intention of the piece is to create an ongoing dialogue that presents more questions than answers in terms of how we approach faith as a culture.

“Lepore comes across a lone, common-man hero…Possessing a rubber-faced ability to slide cleanly into character and deadly accurate powers of observation, Lepore’s acting is integral to the success of [the piece] and worth the price of admission alone.

Carefully chosen words make the satire wicked and the comedy rapier-sharp. His humor comes on many levels -- sometimes over-the-top, often much more subtle -- and that makes an evening rise above stand-up comedy to something closer to social commentary.” Brattleboro Reformer

"Lepore is adept at detailed characterization, and that means his [portrayals] are all too real, and funny… He gets at the tension between the human urge for connection -- with others and the universe -- and the dangers of guru worship and group-think." Boulder Daily Camera

"[Lepore]… shows the perils of trying to embark on a spiritual journey when you have the intensity of a true believer but the direction of a lost soul… [and] shows off his integrity as a writer, directing the audience’s laughter at a commentary on the faux-spirituality industry, rather than the motivations of people who buy into it." DCtheatrescene.com

"Lepore is a brilliant comedian (he perfects accents and extreme personalities) that does not need props in order to keep the crowd entertained." Maryland Theatre Guide

Video preview from Losing My Religion... of Personal Growth Addicts Anonymous

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Seth Lepore
Role: Writer/ Performer
Seth Lepore (Writer/Performer) holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, focus: Creativity in Education from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Since 1996 he has created five self- produced one-man shows. I am not Fragile: A Confessional (1996); 5 Perspectives on Public High School (1997); Jobs Galore (1998) which was performed in tandem with a one-act play entitled Versus which Lepore wrote and directed. Two Minutes to Midnight (1999) was the last monologue Lepore performed before taking a ten year break to focus on several music collaborations especially his solo project Older Than Hours.

Inspired by mockumercials (fake infomercials) that Lepore made with friends with titles like Yoga Kick, Lepore decided to present his unique take on the new age and self help movement he has both been involved in and observed the last 15 years. Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee (2010-present) is his new monologue. He has self-produced the show in Brattleboro, VT; Northampton, MA; San Francisco, CA and Providence, RI since May 2010 as well as being hosted by several New England arts organizations. The show recently won an Encore Award at the 2010 Boulder International Fringe Festival.

More info is available at sethums.com

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A Wonderful Performance
by Michael Merriam Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Very funny. Strong acting and storytelling. Recommended.

What Can We Believe?
by Bill McTeer Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This one-man show consists of vignettes about beliefs across the spectrum from prescriptive to non-judgemental and from ascetic to crassly commercial. All are humorously shown as unworthy. A non-stop, high energy performance that is fun to watch and may provide food for thought afterwards.

A polished script and performance
by Florence Brammer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Lepore does an amazing job of moving among the many characters portrayed in this hour of vignettes. A nice mix of poignancy and satire.

Personal and true
by Linda Sharpe Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Wonderfully written and performed.

This show was fabulously entertaining
by Alison Johnson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
New age charlatans. Confused religious exiles. Fascinating story of what happens after a church exiles a member because he can't help but question. Done well.

A charismatic, entertaining performer
by Heather Baldwin Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
This show wasn't on my radar at all until I saw the Out-of-Towner showcase. I enjoy one-person storytelling shows, particularly when they can portray multiple characters skillfully, and I'm glad I put it on my schedule. Seth weaves together anecdotes from his own life dealing with his crisis of faith, and monologues depicting religious leaders, spiritual gurus, and infomercial shysters. The common thread interlinking these stories seems to involve a person in a position of power using peer-pressure and group dynamics to control the "sheep" in their flock, either directly with threats, or indirectly with passive-aggressive comments about future success. It was interesting how much these experiences mirrored each other.

Funny and Engaging
by Liz Blank Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Different People are going to find very different things funny in this production, it will depend on what you can relate to. He does a very good job of shifting into a very large variety of characters which keeps it all separated and interesting at the same time.

Scary Because It's True
by Sophie Kerman Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Going into this, I expected a purely satirical roast of the new age industry. What was so unsettling about this show was that Lepore manages to make us laugh at these figures without making their sales pitch any less compelling. It started making me twitchy. What else do I think I need, because someone has planted that seed of suggestion? What other psychological holes am I filling with opportune product placement?

I would've loved to hear more of Lepore's own story. But part of my desire for personal narrative was because I wanted a break from these hilarious - but anxiety-inducing - sales pitches. Lepore ended the show beautifully, on just the right note of reflection. Made for a much deeper show than the ads make it out to be!

Karma, Dogma
by Fringivitis Vulgaris Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Seth Lepore plays a variety of characters chasing enlightenment, in books and in the woods and in the tangled lint of their navels. Especially funny in the therapy circle and the Masculinity weekend. Having spent a few years in similar pursuit, some of the characterizations were very familiar, so I may have laughed harder than some folks around me.

Could Have Had a "Buddy Christ" Joke!
by Carl Swanson Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
The characters Lepore pulls out are hilarious, a rogues gallery of chakra-opening snake-oil salesmen, internet-based money-making gurus, ego-driven buddhists and self-helplessness addicts. It's a skewering of market-based faith and the ghost of George Carlin bounds gleefully around the stage as Lepore tears out voices and burns up these surface dwellers. Even though the spark of this hysterical and righteous anger may only be intermittently revealed through the cavalcade of caricatures, the button that ends the hour is a deep humanizing note that people of any faith or paths of questioning would do well to hear.

Spot On
by Katherine Dolezal Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Seth Lepore delivers an excellent show with something for everyone. Fantastic acting and a clever script, I wanted to see more!

Searching for Seth
by Vicki Joan Keck Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
I was hoping to see something real here instead of a bunch of Saturday Night Live -ish vignettes. Myself being a recovering Jesus Person, I was really hoping to find a show which I could relate to with some honest storytelling. Seth is undoubtedly talented, and his characters were funny and interesting, but essentially forgettable. I wanted insight into the REAL Seth and his experiences, so I was disappointed.

A Discerning Pilgrim
by Lynn Cross Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Seth is blessed and cursed with the ability to recognize both spiritual truth and spiritual flimflam. His journey appears to have no end in sight, but he refreshes himself along the way with bracing insights into the follies of both homegrown religion and the more exotic imported sorts. His superb acting ability allows him to convey with surgical precision such things as the hollow magical thinking that underlies our economy, up to & including "New Thought." It is almost heartbreaking to realize how this brave seeker has been disappointed over and over again. But his absolutely outstanding sense of humor and powers of observation assure us that he will survive, and thrive! And so can we, if we develop the same hard-won discernment.

Losing my Direction
by Kale Ganann Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Losing my Religion is wonderful - and meandering. The show is a series of vignettes of various self-help/new-age/hard-sell philosophies, interspersed with a few... very few... personal stories about his own spiritual journey. And really, that's the problem right there. As good as his performance is, he spends more time beating the issue home with the vignettes that he doesn't seem to spend enough time linking them back through his own story. It's good, very good, but it could be better.

great acting, unformed script
by Mark Browning Milner Follow this reviewer
Rating 3 kitties
seth is a wonderful actor, engaging and fully in command. the script, though... we had a sold-out house, and while there were plenty of chuckles the show never evoked that roar of laughter that attends great comedy. i had a bit of a problem following the transitions, and wasn't always sure where we were or why we had come to that point. lovely touch at the curtain wherein seth asked other performing artists to identify themselves and plug their shows.

Tough Call
by Larry Ripp Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This is a tough one. Wonderful actor with a show that had content with no context. Of course if you read the program before you SEE the performance it will help you a great deal. This is one of those things where one gets the feeling that maybe there had been a Part One that was missed and you are rather getting this in the middle. I'm rating it 4 kitties because the performer was TOP NOTCH. Still, at least 2 of his "characterizations" could have been cut near the 28 minute mark with no loss to the show whatsoever. They were repetitive. That's NOT a good sign it seems to me.

Master of characterization
by Zannah Martin Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
A wonderful satire on the commercialization of religion. We seekers could laugh at ourselves and the many teachers who have crossed our path. Well done. You won't be disappointed.

Captivating
by Suzanne Doree Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
What a romp! Well-written with lots of laughs, some awkward in recognizing our own vulnerabilities displayed with such intimacy. Seth is a consumate chameleon adopting a cast of characters so real you feel like you've met them before. But not a frivolous piece, Seth has a poignant series of questions for us to ponder, about God and our never-ending quest to find our place in the universe.

Must see!!!

More Path(os) than Humor
by Amy Sheppeck Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
Seth is an amazing writer and actor. His spiritual journey as told through charlatans and wackos he has met along the way is quite moving. I can relate on many levels. I wanted to laugh but it didn't feel quite right; as though doing so would belittle Seth's ongoing search for his spiritual home.
Characters meant to be humorous were too close to real to be funny and Seth's unresolved angst comes through his portrayals. He tried to move the energy up and down but somehow it never really shifted from story to anecdote so there was no true comic release. Nor was there a real sense of closure at the end.
A work of art worthy of praise and revision.

Clever and though-provoking!
by Lee Campbell Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Loved this show from the first moment to the last! Seth's ability to shift from one character to the next is subtle yet clear. Great physicality that never goes overboard to make the point.

Must see!
by Heather Meyer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Five kitties for excellent execution, smart writing and funny funny parts. Seth is electric onstage at the Augsburg Studio.

The blend between intelligence and humor is absolutely perfect. I laughed a lot. A LOT.

You must see this show. Must.

He puts the awesome in New Age.

Questioning the Sales Pitch
by Jon Skaalen Follow this reviewer
Rating 4 kitties
This actor’s face and body come alive in creating characters who supposedly want to find their place in the world – and products or classes or mantras or exercises that will help them find nirvana. Attracted by the title, I wasn’t sold any solutions (after all people have devoted their entire lives to pursuing understanding), and a hectic Fringe schedule isn’t the likeliest way to find it. But questions and comparisons are raised in a very entertaining 50 minutes.

Impressive!
by mary certain Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A pitch perfect balance of humor and serious introspection. A must see! Seth has an uncanny ability transform himself from character to character instantly and completely, and delivers sharp satire without ever being mean-spirited. Hilarious group therapy session!

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
by Tal Anderson Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
A hilarious and thought-provoking show by a one man powerhouse who takes on a wide variety of characters. Each vignette worked on its own and the overall effect is magnificent.

funny funny funny
by Clark Bremer Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
Best show i've seen so far. Small venue, so get there early!

...It's no secret
by Paula Nancarrow Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
I am charmed by Seth, and by the vivacity of his satire as he lampoons first one New Age religion after another. His physicality, the way he uses the stage, his characterizations - things I find difficult as a writer and sometimes performer - are outstanding. However, I want him to be doing more than making fun of hypocrits, scam artists and space cases; though it gets laughs, I feel like there is a deeper story here. The parts of the show I was most interested in were not the funny parts - though I enjoyed them - but the serious moments of exploration. I well understand wanting to follow the precepts of Buddhism while finding the Buddhists you encounter not particularly inspiring, even obstacles to practice. The section in Seth's story where some Naropa official "changes the rules" before he is to take his second Boddhisattva vow, and Seth's response to it, is fine and well thought out - as is his own statement of faith in the light of his friend's suicide. I would like to see his comedy more fully integrated into these realizations, so that I am better prepared for them. I would also like to see some compassion for the befuddled; right now he is pretty much the only sympathetic character on his own stage. But the show is well worth seeing. I was particularly impressed by Seth's generosity in asking other performers in the audience to identify themselves and give a shout-out about their shows.

Seeking
by Robert Hubbard Follow this reviewer
Rating 5 kitties
LOOSING MY RELIGION stands out at the Fringe for its insightful satire of certain features of Christianity, Buddhism, and self-help commercialism masquerading as spiritually. By taking this approach, one might think that Lepore is cynical or hostile toward faith... he is not. He comes off as a seeker who is just sick and tired of dogma.

The play is a series of very humorous monologues. The range of colorful characters, many of them charlatans, puts Lepore's acting chops to the test. He passes. The performances are brilliant.

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Schedule
Saturday, 8/67:00 p.m. 
Sunday, 8/74:00 p.m. 
Wednesday, 8/105:30 p.m. 
Thursday, 8/118:30 p.m. 
Friday, 8/125:30 p.m. 
Sunday, 8/148:30 p.m. 
Venue

Augsburg Studio venue information
2211 Riverside Av (theater entrance at 22nd Av S and S 7th St)


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