About Minnesota Fringe

There is one big thing that makes Fringe different from any other event in town: All the shows you'll see at Fringe were selected randomly.

Yep. That's right. Each year we select our lineup by placing numbered ping-pong balls into a bingo cage and pulling them out, one by one. From stage veterans to people who are brand new to theater, Minnesota Fringe is a forum for anyone with a story to tell and provides the support to make producing a show as easy as possible.

Anyone (yes, anyone) can apply to have a show in the festival. If you'd like to have a show in the 2017 festival, applications will go live in November here on our website.

Minnesota Fringe is one of many fringe festivals across the nation and around the world. Check the rest of 'em out here.

The mission of the Minnesota Fringe is to promote freedom and diversity of artistic expression by linking adventurous artists with adventurous audiences.



Shows start and end on time at the Fringe. With 880 performances of 169 shows in just 11 days, we're on a tight schedule. Shows are no more than 60 minutes long with a half hour between each show. On weekdays shows begin at 5:30pm, 7pm, 8:30pm and 10pm. On the weekends there are additional shows at 1pm, 2:30pm and 4pm.

Late seating: There is NO LATE SEATING at Minnesota Fringe. Here's why. Beyond keeping the festival running on schedule, our primary reason for no late seating is safety.

Safety for people on stage: Some of our theaters require that patrons walk across parts of the stage to reach the seating area, and many of our production companies’ stage work encompasses entrances and exits from the house.

Safety for our patrons: Entering a darkened theater (and possibly the first time a patron has been in a particular space) and trying to find open seats is not only dangerous for the late patron but also for our volunteers and any seated patrons as well.

Fringe Central

Fringe Central, sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Republic, serves as the late-night watering hole for artists, staff, volunteers and audience members alike. Come in after a day full of shows to grab a beer (or two) and talk. Talk about what you loved. Talk about what you didn’t. Meet the artists behind the shows and find out what you should see tomorrow. You never know what will happen at the Fringe, but dropping by Central gives you a serious head start.


What to Wear

Shorts and a t-shirt. Seriously. Also, a pair of comfy shoes will serve you well in case you have to wait in line. Pro tip: Most Fringe shows take place indoors in air-conditioned venues, so having a layer to throw on in case you get chilly is also advisable.


Choosing a Show

With 169 shows to choose from, it's scandalous to see just one. But how to choose your perfect lineup?

Search by genre: You can filter for genres when you're trying to decide what to see.

Talk to people: It only sounds scary. Just look for the folks in lanyards. Pro tip: Lanyards indicate Fringe artists - they'll be glad to tell you about their show.

Read and write reviews: See what audiences are raving about on our audience review page, then return the favor and let others know what you thought.

Get Involved

Fringe isn't just a festival - it's a community, and it couldn't exist without people like you.

Volunteer: Our 400+ volunteers are near and dear to our hearts and make our festival go, so we shower them with lots of love and complimentary seats! Sign up for a shift now!

Be social: Join us any night of the festival at our official hangout, Fringe Central sponsored by Surly Brewing and hosted by Republic, for a beer, a burger and maybe even some late-night shenanigans.

Create your own show: Applications for the 2017 festival will go live mid-November on this website. The Fringe is open to everyone, all shows are selected by lottery, and you don't even need to have a show ready when you apply.

Box Office Info

Reservations are optional and may be bought in advance through the Fringe website. Advance sales stop at 1 pm on weekdays and 10 am on weekends. A reservation guarantees you a seat for the show. You must also be wearing a day pass wristband to get in. Day pass wristbands can be purchased at any Fringe venue 30 minutes prior to show time, as well as online with a reservation.

Purchases made in advance allow you to bypass the venue box office completely. Check in with a Fringe volunteer at the house door to pick up your reservation starting 30 minutes before show time. Once reservations are purchased, they are guaranteed and will NOT be resold.

Payment methods: Fringe accepts cash, all major credit cards and checks made out to "Minnesota Fringe Festival."

Kids at Fringe: There is a recommended minimum age for each (see individual show pages on our website). It is up to the parent/guardian to make the final decision; Fringe makes no guarantees about content.

Day pass wristbands: ALL patrons must have a wristband to see a show. Your wristband serves as your pass to any show in the festival on a given day. Wristbands are $16 on weekdays; $22 on weekends.

Wristbands for kids 12 and under will be available in the venues during the festival for $5 every day.

Late seating: Nope.

Refunds: Nuh uh.


 Something different 


Unsafe at Any Speed

By Michael Merriam
Written by Michael Merriam
Playing at Bryant-Lake Bowl


Solo show, Storytelling/Spoken word, Includes artists with disabilities


Just so you know, this show contains Adult language.

From muscle car driver to blind public transit user, Michael Merriam shares funny and poignant personal stories of transition through our car culture, via levitating cars, a bus fire, and being buried alive.

The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 16+


Thu, 8/4 @ 7:00pm


Sat, 8/6 @ 10:00pm


Sun, 8/7 @ 5:30pm


Thu, 8/11 @ 7:00pm


Sun, 8/14 @ 7:00pm

Ticket Options

Your wristband serves as your pass to any show in the festival on a given day. Wristbands are $16 on weekdays; $22 on weekends. Optional reservations to guarantee a seat for any performance are available by clicking the "reserve" button above. Wristbands can be purchased in advance with reservations or at any venue box office during the festival.

Wristbands for kids 12 and under will be available in the venues during the festival for $5 every day.

You don't have to buy a 2016 Fringe button, but you might just want to. It identifies you as a part of our incredible Fringe community and gets you great deals at these local bars and restaurants. Get yours at any Fringe preview event or Fringe venue during the festival.

Read the reviews

If you have to stop driving

by Paula Nancarrow on August 14, 2016
This user has reviewed 9 shows

Try to get your car stuck in the top of a tree first. It makes for a great story. Michael does a good job lightening loss with humor, and guiding us through his world.

The Adventures Of Going Blind

by August Berkshire on August 14, 2016
This user has reviewed 42 shows

A series of interesting incidents - near misses, quirky characters, etc. - comprise a life with and without a car.

Humor and bite

by Eli Effinger-Weintraub on August 12, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

I'm a long-time fan of Merriam's storytelling, and this new show is ON FIRE. His usual humor and wordplay is interspersed here with trenchant observations about disability, privilege, and Americans' fanatical obsession with driving. If you like your storytelling to make you think as hard as it makes you laugh, this is the show for you.

Good storytelling!

by Theresa Alberti on August 8, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

I really enjoyed the show. Michael is a charming storyteller, and I was engaged in the way he shared his experiences-- I'm not a "car person," but thew way he spun his colorful stories about cars and driving reeled me in. I was really fascinated by his experiences with his vision-loss and how he perceives with world from this new vantage point... it really helped me understand what has always seemed to me to be a daunting handicap. Well done!

inconsistent but worthwhile

by Dave Stagner on August 8, 2016
This user has reviewed 18 shows

The show is best when he's reminiscing about the cars he's owned (and crashed), the joy of being a dangerous speed freak of a driver, and dealing with his stubborn refusal to quit driving long after illness had robbed him of sufficient sight to drive safely. It dragged a little when talking about the positive aspects of depending on public transportation. The stories were heartwarming and sometimes poignant, but not really profound, and lacked the passion of his talk of driving.

On the other hand, he's a very skilled storyteller, with a fine voice and polished delivery, using a minimal set very effectively. It's apparent right from the opening scene that he's really thought about how to communicate.

Funny, insightful, moving stories

by Beth Kinderman on August 7, 2016
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Michael Merriam's one-man show held my full attention from beginning to end with its mixture of humorous anecdotes, personal experiences, and opinionated commentary about his life as a driver and a public transit user. I especially enjoyed his reminiscences about cars he has driven, and his tales of interesting individuals he's met on the bus or train. Michael is a charismatic presence with a unique perspective on the pleasures and pitfalls of America's "car culture." Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in storytelling and in the experiences of disabled artists in a world that often erases and disadvantages them.

Excellent Storytelling

by Vicki Joan Keck on August 7, 2016
This user has reviewed 7 shows

I am familiar with Mr. Merriam's style and fully expected to like this show. He did not disappoint. Excellent stage presence and delivery, timely and important subject matter. As a mass transit user, I related to his stories, especially of his interactions with people on busses. The idiocy of folks who are against public transport thinking the solution should be "just buy everyone a car" really hits home.

Funny, poignant and thought provoking

by Eric Honaker on August 7, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

Unsafe At Any Speed offers an insightful look into the mind and history of a man who slowly lost his independent mobility due to failing eyesight. Along the way we hear funny anecdotes about the position cars hold in our identities, our politics and history.

Poignant and Political

by A H on August 7, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

The show shines through humorous and poignant storytelling about America's obsession with cars, and driving in general, but also highlights the voices of people often forgotten when talk (and politics) shifts to discussions of public transportation: people with disabilities.

Lovely way to end the day.

by Shellae Mueller on August 6, 2016
This user has reviewed 2 shows

Merriman is a wonderful story-teller and I could feel where the story was going but never quite got there for me.

I relate to his love of driving and have a sister with disability who is unable to drive so appreciate his story and experiences. Enjoyed the stories about growing up on a farm and his public transportation experiences.

The other thing of note here is the venue. BLB is a difficult space in general. I wish Fringe what not put one person shows here because the noise from the bowling alley, the bar, and the street really detract from the experience.

Still, this one man show is worth your time.

Poignant Storytelling

by Jay Soderberg on August 6, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

Michael Merriam provides an unique storytelling experience. Poignant stories about becoming blind and dealing with the consequences. Entertaining, funny and meaningful!

Thought provoking, yet humorous

by Joseph Warren on August 5, 2016
This user has reviewed 1 show

I truly enjoyed Michael's show. There's an important message here about the American obsession with the automobile, and how our entire culture is geared (no pun intended) toward supporting that. Michael presents this in a heartwarming way with stories, bouncing back and forth between his reckless (Or, more appropriately, wreck-full) driving years and navigating the public transit system. While I cannot even begin to imagine life as someone losing his eyesight, I felt I could empathize much more on a specific level when talking about transportation. 'Unsafe at any speed' was both humorous, and extremely thought provoking. I highly recommend attending this show; his story will certainly stay with me as I sit in traffic in the future.

Cars, buses, disability, and connection

by jon kelland on August 5, 2016
This user has reviewed 3 shows

Multiple criticisms of car culture through personal stories do a great job setting-up beauty of public transit and disability

Unfunny, unhappy tales and opinions

by Richard Keseley on August 4, 2016
This user has reviewed 15 shows

Some of the stories had possibilities with more work, but opinions about mistreatment, lack of opportunities for the handicapped and lack of proper public transit bored and annoyed me.

Powered By The Stories

by D. W. Hawk on August 4, 2016
This user has reviewed 14 shows

When the stories come you're treated to a charming and affable man who has collected some great encounters with pedestrians, drivers, and passengers. When he veers off the road into commentary and opinion, the show stalls.

Cast and crew

Michael Merriam


Michael Merriam appeared on stage in the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival in his one-man show "Darkly Through the Light Waters: Twin Cities Tales" and the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival in "Invisible People" with Christy Marie Kent. Michael has also performed at Tellebration!, StoryFest Minnesota, Story SlamMN! and over the air on KFAI and Minnesota Public Radio. As an author, Michael has published three novels, two short story collections, three novellas, and over 80 pieces of short fiction and poetry.

Like most artists, Michael has worked a variety of odd jobs over the years, including as a musician, short order cook, freight logistics manager, and the booking agent for a puppet troupe.

Michael is the co-organizer of the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers and a member of the Artists with Disabilities Alliance, the Steampunk Artists and Writers Guild, and Story Arts Minnesota. Visit his website

Sherry L.M. Merriam

Producer/Director/Stage Manager

This is Sherry’s third Fringe production credit. She previously assisted with “Invisible People” in 2014 and produced “Darkly Through the Light Waters: Twin Cities Tales” in 2011.

When not producing Fringe shows, Sherry enthusiastically serves as a Fringe volunteer. The rest of the time, she is a book-reading, role-playing, evil-fighting, queer, shamanic, nerdy, clinic co-owning psychotherapist just having a mindful midlife passage.

Kevin McIntyre

Stage Crew/Graphic Design

Transplanted from Nebraska by way of Kansas and Iowa, Kevin has made his home in the Twin Cities since 2008. He has been a librarian, a mortgage processor, a collections officer, a teaching assistant, and a construction worker. Of these he prefers working in libraries. Kevin volunteers his time at the Geek Partnership Society (www.geekpartnership.org) where he hosts a Game Design meetup twice a month.

More information

From muscle car driver to blind public transit user, Michael Merriam shares funny and poignant personal stories of transition through our car culture, via a levitating Oldsmobile, a bus fire, and being buried alive.

Michael recognized several themes had emerged among his tales about his bad luck with cars and becoming a public transit user after his vision failed. Through one individual’s personal story of denial and eventual acceptance of encroaching disability, many can relate to his experience of refusing to give up independence and questing for a new definition of self. Woven through his narrative is a larger examination of our culture’s obsession with the automobile, sometimes in steadfast refusal of the facts of the needs of its individuals and society.

Audience Reviews from Michael's 2011 MNFringe show Darkly Through the Light Waters: Twin Cities Tales.

"Michael Merriam is a talented story teller. Michael wove his tales, and my mind's eye was free to take the journey with him.... Not only was I entertained, but I've thought about the stories quite a bit. It was a great show. I both enjoyed and would recommend it to others!"

"Michael Merriam creates a compelling narrative.... Merriam has a gift for telling a compelling tales through clear narrative and strong imagery, and one can easily imagine the world he creates.... Definitely recommended for a different sort of one-person show."

"Excellent stories.... Michael Merriam has a confident stage presence and his performance adds quite a lot to the stories. Well worth seeing."

For more photos from Tech rehearsal and more about the show, go here! https://www.facebook.com/events/265405633821415/


Michael perfoming  "Lost" at Story SlamMN! This story is a part of Unsafe at Any Speed.

Seward Co-op