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No Judgement, No Shame

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | OCTOBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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Walking into the lobby of the Theater Building late on a Friday morning, Nick Edinger attracts the attention of the few individuals lounging inside with his miniature sombrero, guitar, bulging backpack, and hands overflowing with various oddities.

Edinger is not at all bothered by the passing glances — after all, he is here to discuss No Shame Theater.

No Shame takes place in the Theater Building at 11 p.m. every Friday during the academic year, with those in attendance conjuring in the lobby before heading to Room 172 to begin performances.

As the name implies, No Shame is an open environment for members of the Iowa City community to share their talents.

"No Shame is important because it is not a place for judgment, it is a place of expression," said Jesse Heisel, a No Shame board member. "It is the place where people can freely express themselves in any way they want."

Performances range from short skits to poetry to standup and everything in between.

"The best three-word summary would be: audience, submission, theater," said Edinger, who serves as treasurer for No Shame. "Before the show, anyone can come up to us and say they want to put on this thing, and we give them a platform to do just that."

Works can be submitted up to just a few minutes before performances begin, creating a rather unpredictable environment each Friday.

"The atmosphere is both inviting and crazy, because everyone is encouraging, and at the same time, you can never guess what will happen next," Heisel said.

While everything in No Shame is performed, non-performers can gain valuable experience from participation as well.

"As an aspiring writer, it's great to write something just completely silly, and get creative juices flowing, and then present it to an audience," Edinger said.

After each presentation, that week's audience provides feedback and insight into the work, allowing authors to understand what worked, what did not, and how to improve before coming back next week to try out their work again.

"To see it on stage, it does really prove that even though you may not be famous or published, you can still be really good," Edinger said. "It's hard to think of a better place where you can get direct feedback on your work. Also, to make a name for yourself and keep practicing the work you love for people who really want to see it."

The low-pressure, no judgment space, is less stressful for aspiring performers or writers, because there are no expectations, no guidelines, and, of course, no shame.

"There's always a good energy when No Shame goes on," said board member Tyler Levin. "There's laughter, and people just chat and joke around. You get closer with every show and make some good friends."

With the graduation of more than half of last year's board members and several regular attendees, No Shame has gradually been building up its audience these last few weeks and finding its footing.

"Sadly, it is a bit smaller," Edinger said. "We kind of had to start at ground zero. Fortunately, we have a really solid core of people who like the group and want to keep submitting."

This year's submissions have been primarily skits, including a few character sketches. Last year, No Shame even ran a TV show based on performed skits. Edinger has noted a heavier focus on writing this semester, which he thoroughly enjoys.

While the skits are enjoyable, he also encourages other submissions, such as the music and poetry that No Shame has featured recently.

"Not only do we have people perform monologues and skits, but we also see improvisation, standup comedy, poetry, songs, and dancing — one of last year's performers was a tap dancer, and he was mind-blowing," Levin said. "If people have something to share, we're a very receptive crowd. No Shame's also perfect for someone who just has nothing to do and wants to shoot some craziness into their nights. Whether performer, writer, or audience member, you're bound to have a fantastic time."

Variety and inclusion are No Shame's specialty, so everyone involved stresses the welcoming environment and the desire to gather an eclectic group.

"We just want to incorporate a wide range of talents," Edinger said. "It's kind of like 'Saturday Night Live,' but in this case, a Saturday Morning Live."


THEATER
No Shame
When: 11 p.m. Friday
Where: 172 Theater Building
Admission: Free


Rules for submissions
- The piece must be under five minutes in order to keep the show brisk and moving.
- Everything submitted must be an original work.
- Performances cannot hurt any of the objects in the room. Feelings, however, are fair game.
- In case an author is not comfortable performing, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a board member to present for you, or you can submit anonymously in the No Shame mailbox in the Theater Building.


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