Unsafe at Any Speed – A First Post

Coming this August to The Minnesota Fringe Festival –

Unsafe at Any Speed

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.

Unsafe at any Speed - Final Image

Photo by Sonya Leigott Honaker with slight alterations by Kevin McIntyre.
Show Description by Sherry L.M. Merriam with slight alterations by Michael Merriam

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Artist Choices

All I want to do is work on my art: writing, storytelling, my fringe show, but our culture’s devaluation of art and unwillingness to pay artists a living wage forces us to chose, and that choice is: create art or eat and have a roof over your head. In the face of art consumers thinking they shouldn’t need to actually pay for art and that artist’s should somehow survive while creating art for art’s sake, artists find themselves forced to stop creating in order to have any financial security. ‪#‎artistchoices‬

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The Not-So Silent Planet

Tuesday June 21st – 8pm to 10pm
Kieran’s Irish Pub
85 North 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Visit the Website

I will be the featured storyteller at this speculative fiction open mic event. I will be telling a new piece I am writing just for this show. Ghost Trains! Hover Buses! Colliding Timelines!

“Stories of the sort I am describing…they cool us…hence the uneasiness which they arouse in those who, for whatever reason, wish to keep us wholly imprisoned in the immediate conflict. That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of ‘escape’. I never wholly understood it until my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, “What class of Men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?’ and gave the obvious answer: jailers.”
– C.S. Lewis, On Stories

Have you ever imagined a world whose laws of physics differ from our own? Welcome to the Twin Cities’ first open-mic dedicated to speculative fiction: fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural horror, or anachronistic interpretations of myth! Sign up for 5-7 minutes, and tell us about a place of which we’ve never dreamt.

Doors and sign-up at 8pm, show at 8:30pm.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016: feature performer MICHAEL MERRIAM!


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A Busy Summer for Me

I was asked to put together a list of the various theater and spoken-word things I have going on this summer. It’s a pretty busy schedule for me, and I am pretty pleased.

American Underground:
Saturday, May 28th – 6pm to 8pm
Clubhouse Jager, 923 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Visit the Facebook Event

I will be on stage for 15 minutes, telling either an excerpt from my upcoming MNFringe show, or possibly a condensed version of the show, or maybe something else entirely.


Gadfly’s Final Frontier Festival: Heroes and Villains:
June 3rd through June 12th – Times and Dates Below
Phoenix Theater, 2605 Hennepin Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Visit the Facebook Event

This is the world premiere of my short play “At the Edge of Flight.” There are three performances as part of the festival. I plan to attend closing night, so June 11th at 7:00 pm. If you can’t go with me that night, please please go ahead and see the other performances. Go see the whole festival, in fact.

At the Edge of Flight by Michael Merriam
Directed by: Cassandra Snow
The Further Adventures of… by Kathleen Warnock
Directed by: Meggie Grievell
Your Princess is in Another Lair by Eli Effinger-Weintraub
Directed by Denzel Belin

Slut by Nicole Jost
Directed by: Shalee Coleman
The Amazing Cunt and Lil’ Bitch Take Minneapolis by Katy Koop
Directed by Megan Lembke

Performance Dates:
June 3rd, Set A, 7:30 P.M.
June 4th, Set B, 7:30 P.M.
June 5th, Set A, 3:00 P.M.
June 10th, Set B, 7:30 P.M.
June 11th, Set A, 7:30 P.M.
June 12th, Set B, 3:00 P.M.

The Not-So Silent Planet:
Tuesday June 21st – 8pm to 10pm
Kieran’s Irish Pub
85 North 6th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Visit the Website

I will be the featured storyteller at this speculative fiction open mic event. I will be telling a new piece I am writing just for this show. Ghost Trains! Hover Buses! Colliding Timelines!

Minnesota Fringe Festival:
Bryant-Lake Bowl
810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Visit the Fringe Website

I will be giving five performances of my newest one-person show “Unsafe at Any Speed.” This show offers tales of my adventures on public transit and take a cold, hard look at my checkered past as a driver, all filtered through the lens of living with a disability that forces you to turn in the key while dealing with America’s Car Culture.

Performance Schedule
8/4/2016 7:00 PM
8/6/2016 10:00 PM
8/7/2016 5:30 PM
8/11/2016 7:00 PM
8/14/2016 7:00 PM

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Super Excited!

Director Cassandra Snow posted a photo from rehearsal of the show I wrote and she is directing. I am super excited!

To quote Cassandra: “Some lovely lady lovin between our protagonist Melissa Ballister (Valerie Borey) and Nurse Summers (Anna Lakin) in rehearsal for At The Edge of Flight.

Edited to Add: Cassandra tells me the photo and quote are credit Edie Rose, Gadfly’s Social Media Manager. Thank you, Cassandra and Edie!


More information about the Final Frontier Festival: https://www.facebook.com/events/965263570223740/
More information about Be Our Hero – Eat Pizza!:
Buy your tickets and support local writers, artists + directors:

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At The Edge Of Flight

I’ve been sitting on this news for awhile, but now it is official. My script “At the Edge of Flight” is being produced by Gadfly Theatre Productions as part of the Final Frontier Theatre Festival: Heroes and Villains.

I am super pleased.

From the Gadfly Website:
At the Edge of Flight
by Michael Merriam
Directed by: Cassandra Snow
Melissa Ballister used to be known as the superhero Ball Lightning until a tragic stroke takes away her power of flight. Now she spends her time in a government funded nursing home for retired superheroes while seeing her old team continue fighting crime without her. That is, until a new nurse arrives with an offer from a mysterious shadow organization…

Facebook Event

Gadfly Theatre

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I am pleased to announce the podcast publication of my YA SF/Horror piece “Twenty-One” at Cast of Wonders podcast.

Pleased, I say!

Episode 204: Twenty-One by Michael Merriam

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Falling with Grace

Being a working artists is like this:
You’re standing there with one foot hanging out in the open air,
hovering over a dark, terrifying void below.
Your other foot is on a banana peel.
And that banana peel is on a high wire.
And that high wire is greased slick.
And there is a gale force wind blowing in your face.
And you don’t have a safety net, just that dark yawning void under your foot.
So your’re standing there with one foot in the void and the other on a greased high wire and banana peel, battered by hurricane force winds…
And then…and then you take a step forward.
Because you’re a working artists and that’s your job.

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Patreon Thoughts

So the subject of Patreon keeps coming up around me: various authors running Patreons to allow them to write a short story a month, or make videos of them reading, a poem a week; all kinds of creative ideas. Typically those who pledged money get to enjoy the art first before the author sends the work out into the world and to the general public.

I’ve been asked multiple times over the last couple of months if I am or possibly considering starting a Patreon of my own.

I have thought about it, but the answer is: No.

I like the idea behind Patreon, but it doesn’t seem like it would work for someone without a national platform to start with. I’ve seen lots of writers with that platform barely manage pledges equaling up to a $1000 a month in exchange for the writer writing one short story a month for the patrons, or putting out novel chapters. If you could get 1000 people to pledge $1 a month, it will work, sure and it would rock to be able to just write all day every day.

Except that I’m not at all sure I could get $100 pledged and then I would be doing the extra work of creating exclusive content for my patrons for that $100 a month. This isn’t actually worth me doing, because I wouldn’t have the extra free time $1000 a month buys, but I’d still be pledged to create extra content. I worry I’d be making a ton of more work for myself without getting enough financial gain.

Now, I could be reading this wrong, but even well-known national authors can barely get to the $1000 a month total pledges point, and I figure I’d need at least $750 to make it work.

It really does run on the 1000 True Fans model for writers.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have 20 True Fans.

So no.

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“Storytelling is how we deal with loss.”

Yeah, so Minnesota Fringe Festival Lottery. That’s a thing that happened. And my ping-pong ball was selected. I’m in the Fringe this year, and I got in the good way, with lots of time to prepare.

Yesterday I managed to carve out some writing time, so I was beginning the brainstorming process for my Fringe show, looking to maybe set a basic outline and start gathering material and thoughts. I turned on the Television for background noise, and there on TPT was Kevin Kling’s “Lost and Found.”

Now, the show I’m writing, tentatively tittle “Unsafe At Any Speed” is about going from able-bodied to disabled and going from being a driver to a rider of public transit in a country that has a deep seated car-culture and is at times openly hostile to public transit and it’s users.

So I’m working on this show, listening to another with one ear, and Kevin looks at me through the screen and says, “Storytelling is how we deal with loss.”

Thanks. Thanks for cutting to the heart of matter for me. and thanks for all the feels.

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