It has been called scandalous, hilarious, raw, risqué, cheap, and even offensive.
But regardless of what title you give it, No Shame Theatre is a rare resource: a live student-run theater that gives audience members an opportunity to witness the theatrical process unfold in its rawest form. Performances go on without rehearsal, with actors working from the scripts they brought in that evening and read from throughout the show.
The format is simple, and anyone can play. Those who have a desire to perform an original piece clocking in at under five minutes can come to the Theatre Building lounge at 10 p.m. any Friday beginning Sept. 2. The first 15 entries get to perform that night, and they may possibly join the ranks of such past No Shame "Best Ofs" as "Girls Who Crave Kant," "Naughty Words," and "Dead Turtle."
All script forms, including monologues, sketches, songs, poetry, and anything else people can think of, are welcome. With performances every Friday at 11 p.m. and an entry fee of only $1, excuses for not going at least once in your college tenure hold very little water.
Variety, according to board member and longtime performer Aprille Clarke, is one of the most attractive things about No Shame. "You never know what's going to happen because the writers and performers always change," she said.
Born in the back of a pickup truck parked in the Mabie Theatre lot in 1986, No Shame has thrived for nearly 20 years at the UI and has spread around the country to such places as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Miami.
Iowa playwrights Jeff Goode, Todd Ristau, and Stan Ruth developed the guerrilla theater troupe with the goal of providing students a forum in which they could produce a plethora of work and get immediate feedback without the worry of whether their performance would affect their grade. Current board members Alyssa Bowman, Jamal River, Michael Tabor, Adam Hahn, Timm Sitzmann, and Clarke have similar goals.
In her eighth year with the group, Clarke feels that there are a world of benefits to both the performers and the audience members.
"I almost always come out of a night at No Shame inspired and ready to write more," she said. "I've learned a lot about writing and acting in that environment."
Clarke feels good about the upcoming semester and hopes for "new, prolific, enthusiastic writers and abundant audiences," she said. She added that she would like to see more female writers.
"I've heard that a lot of women find No Shame intimidating, but I'd like to challenge them to break through their own inhibitions and give it a try," she said.
But she has advice for would-be participants.
"It takes perseverance," she said. "The way to gain the respect of the No Shame regular writers and audience members is to start writing, keep writing, and keep showing up."
E-mail DI reporter Courtney Davids at:
Aprille Clarke shares information on the upcoming No Shame season with members of the executive board during a meeting at Thai Flavors on Thursday. The first performance will be Sept. 2 in the Theatre Building. Laura Schmitt/The Daily Iowan