A man singing of his eternal love for Ziploc bags. Another who writes five-minute masterworks the day they are performed; mad science experiments and sketch comedy math lessons: all these spectacles and more regularly take the stage at the The ArtsCenter’s No Shame Theatre.
The monthly rendition of No Shame Theatre's program is happening Aug. 31, and the show prides itself on having only three rules: be original, keep it under five minutes and don’t destroy the stage, said Lisa Levin, the event’s organizer and host.
It’s a no-holds-barred display of zaniness where every type of performance — whether it’s dramatic, musical, comedic or otherwise — is equally welcome. All an interested artist has to do is show up and sign up, and the stage is theirs for whatever they wish to showcase to the audience.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen," Levin said about the performance. "You don’t know who’s going to show up. Could be a big crowd, could be a small crowd — we’ve had two different couples get engaged on our stage.”
The first No Shame Theatre shows had a slightly more agrarian ambience: they were performed out of the back of a pickup truck in Iowa, all the way back in the ‘80s. Since then, there have been No Shame events all over the United States. They're a lively and supportive environment for shy performers to showcase their talents, Levin said.
“This cleverness that lives in all of us, this playfulness that we don’t get to show in our everyday lives as much as one might like to, this is your chance for you to do that," Levin said. "And nobody’s going to boo you or throw tomatoes.”
In fact, Levin said, everyone’s there to cheer you on because simply getting on stage despite feeling vulnerable is most of the battle. “The rest is just icing,” she said.
Accessibility and a low-pressure atmosphere are two of No Shame Theatre’s key draws. Often, artists will experiment with pieces you wouldn’t see anywhere else, and the crowd is always highly involved — sometimes directly, as audience members are regularly co-opted into dramatic roles, Levin said.
“It’s a smaller group, so it feels a lot more intimate, and it’s just not quite as formal,” said Miranda May, a longtime No Shame performer. “So it’s definitely less nerve-wracking.”
Students, of drama or otherwise, are encouraged to show off their art as well — as long as they abide by the three golden rules, of course, Levin said. No Shame’s platform is always open to all.
“I’ve known so many people with so much talent, everywhere," said Drew Gulino, a frequent performer at No Shame. "Get in a conversation with somebody for five minutes and you’ll find they have some crazy talent. But what people don’t have is a venue to perform it, to perform odd.”
Gulino said you won't find an event like No Shame anywhere else. He said that regardless of what your talent is, No Shame is the place for you to showcase it.
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