from The Daily Iowa - Iowa City, Iowa - Monday, October 27, 1986

Actors perform casual skits

By Beth Lucht
Staff Writer

IT WAS DARK, rainy and very cold. Several people stood in the bed of a truck, illuminated by the headlight of an old motorcycle. Huddled in raincoats and under umbrellas stood dedicated followers, applauding the announcement of "Hard Liquor and Handgun Night."

Was it a gathering of an underground political group? No, just a performance of No Shame Theater, a loosely organized performance of scenes by local Iowa City theater loonies, led by playwright Todd Ristau.

RISTAU FOUNDED No Shame, which performs in the parking lot of E.C. Mabie Theatre, and explains that they will "keep doing it until it's too cold to stand in the snow." No Shame is incredibly casual, much like its predecessor, Midnight Madness, which provided cheap fun and wild entertainment back in the days before the Old Armory was flattened.

But there are some differences. No Shame is even more off-the-wall and less structured than Madness. Five minutes before the show began, a call for any additional pieces went out. Actors didn't show up for scenes, and without blinking, other actors filled their spots. This is what "Saturday Night Live" should have been.

The pieces varied between fairly serious monologues and hysterically funny skits. The opener was a skit dealing with art ("Art with a capital 'A' - Art") which was punctuated with the protestations of the frustrated Iowan ("I don't understand. But then again, I'm from Iowa")

ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT was "Dada is my Dada," which turned into an argued- over story about a woodcutter - no, a prince, no - a duke named Harvey who married a frog - no, a princess named Harvey and lived happily ever after, but then died.

On the more serious side was Ristau's piece about a young girl's encounter with a hermit and a canary. It became an extended metaphor for overcoming hurt and "learning to fly again" but did so without being overwrought.

Another advantage of informal performances like No Shame Theater is that it provides opportunity to act without investing usual time necessary to participate in organized theater. Though organized theater is certainly essential to any actor's training, it is nice that young, untested performers and writers can have exposure to audiences in this way.
Next week, according to a No Shame organizer, the Messiah will appear just in time for Halloween.

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