Starting This Fall, Staunton Has No Shame

August 25, 2004

Ever wonder what to do late nights in Staunton? Ever write something but wondered where you could get people to hear it? Ever want to perform something in front of an audience but didn’t know how or where? Where can you meet new and interesting people? Where can you see interesting, innovative, provocative performances without going to New York or DC?

This fall, No Shame Theatre is your answer to all of the above.

What is No Shame?

No Shame is a kind of “open mic” for live performances with only three basic rules:

  • Pieces performed at No Shame have to be original, and not violate anyone else’s copyright
  • No Shame pieces need to be no more than 5 minutes long
  • You can’t break anything at No Shame…not the theatre, not the audience, not the performers, not the actors, not yourself, and not any laws.

On this stage you might hear a poem, or a song, see a dance piece, a puppet show, watch a monologue, mime routine, stand-up comedy, improvisation, jugglers and magic act — all followed by a delightful ditty on a hand saw.

The show is impossible to describe because each night we take the first 15 pieces that show up at the door. Nobody pre-screens or pre-selects the scripts in advance. There are no restrictions on style or content. Part of the reason for being late night is to have a little more freedom of speech. No Shame often has adult language and content, so attend at your own risk.

When and where is it happening?

Every 1st and 3rd Monday night in the new Masonic Annex above the Baja Bean at #12 Beverly Street. We start taking pieces at 9:30 p.m., let the audience in at 10 p.m., and the show starts at 10:30 sharp. Tickets are $5 at the door, and everyone pays to get in, audience and presenters.

Why do writers and performers have to pay?

No Shame is a low budget experience, but there are costs to keeping this very special venue operating. Some people might not like the idea of paying $5 to perform, but don’t think of it as paying $5 to do your piece, think of it as paying $5 to see 14 other people do their pieces. By having everyone pay the same “dues” we’ll all be in this together–audience, writers, and performers.

Who do we expect to do this, anyway?

Everyone has a story to tell, or a talent to share. No Shame Mary Baldwin will have regular participation from students in the M.Litt. playwriting class, undergraduate acting classes, as well as other disciplines such as music and poetry. We’re also hoping to see members of Shenandoah Shakespeare, local writer’s groups, ShenanArts, and other No Shamers from chapters in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke. At No Shame absolute beginners have a chance to work side by side with grizzled veterans of the theatre and anyone can walk in the door and participate in any way they choose.

In order to get your piece in the line up, just get there around 9:30 p.m. with enough scripts for your actors and one extra for the light booth. Scripts should be typed and include title, cast list, light cues, and your contact information. Everything else is up to you. You can read script in hand, or you can memorize and rehearse until it’s perfect.

Who started all this, anyway?

No Shame was established in the back of a pickup truck in 1986 by Mary Baldwin Theatre faculty member Todd Ristau, while earning his BA in theatre and MFA in playwriting at the University of Iowa.

No Shame has since become a grass roots theatre revolution, with chapters in cities across the USA, including New York, LA, Chicago, Austin, Miami … and in Virginia there have been No Shames in Charlottesville, Verona, Harrisonburg, and Roanoke.

Writers and performers who cut their teeth on our stage have gone on to become working professionals in theatre, TV, and film. Famous No Shame alums include: Jeff Goode, Rebecca Gilman, Toby Huss, John Leguizamo, Camryn Manheim, Ruth Margraff, Megan Gogerty, Stuart Sherman, DB Woodside, and Hal Ackerman.

For more information on No Shame Mary Baldwin, contact the Mary Baldwin Theatre Department at (540) 887-7189, or go online to .

For full details about other No Shames, visit No Shame and click on a city near you!