MY MEMORIES OF NO SHAME:
A lot of the writing was pretty bad, frankly. Young writer stuff; too many monologues beginning with,"I had a dream once..." or "When I was a kid...." Angst filled young men trying to both evoke and mask the influence of their angst filled actor heroes. I contributed more than my share to this lot. But hey, put it in the back of a pickup truck in a parking lot on a Friday, light it with the headlamp of a motorcycle, call it "Hard liqour and Handgun Night," and you're halfway to avant-garde. On the other hand, some of the writing was brilliant and funny and inspired, and some of the actors who leapt off the proverbial cliff just soared and soared.
I was a founding member, I suppose. I ran the lights the first few shows from the seat of Kris Farrar's Yamaha 350 or Snod's Kawasaki 750, I can't remember which. I'd cut the engine during the pieces so people could hear better, shine the headlamp on the performers, and between pieces I'd start it up and let the engine rev so the battery wouldn't run down. Some nights it rained, some nights it got pretty damn cold, and there wasn't anywhere to sit, but I never remember a crowd less than 100, come to watch some free theater under the sky on a Friday night. By and large, they were a generous audience, but the River road traffic was going by and one could get distracted -- the actors had to keep their attention. Of course, it didn't hurt that you could stand there and smoke and drink while you watched the show.
After we moved inside I did a stint as the Stage Manager/ Emcee, making up the order, taking light and sound cues from the writers, reading the order and the rules and welcoming the crowd at the beginning of the show. People would be lined up down the hall and out the door by 10:30 for an 11pm show, and we always sold out. We started charging a buck a head, and gave it to the department.
A lot of young people came to No Shame; university students and former university students, and Scott Smith who of course was both. I would guess their average age was around 21. They say the average theater goer in the "legitimate" theater is in their 50's. I guess that says something about No Shame right there. These were folks who wanted to go see theater, couldn't wait to see theater, chose to go see theater on a Friday night over all the other things they could do in a college town on a Friday night. I wonder if any of them would've stood in line and paid a $1 to see a revival of "Our Town," or "Long Day's Journey into Night."
I'll tell you how No Shame affected me during the time I was involved with it. Whether I was in a piece or had written a piece or was stage managing or was just there watching, I felt more a part of The Big Thing while I was there. All of us, we were With Each Other. Together. There aren't too many other places that do that for me. I'm proud I was part of it. I miss it.