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Have you No Shame?

Use five minutes of stage time for whatever the hell

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ACTING HARD :  It looks like Wendy-Marie Foerster and Katie Mack-Montenegro might murder Kevin Harris, but they're just acting. Fun! - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • ACTING HARD : It looks like Wendy-Marie Foerster and Katie Mack-Montenegro might murder Kevin Harris, but they're just acting. Fun!

Any Art Bash regulars out there might be a bit surprised to see a new name under the headline. Don’t be scared. The great Glen Starkey left for a multi-week vacation that I like to imagine will include a lot of motorcycles speeding through explosions. He’ll be back, bashing away, first thing next month, so you can rest assured that you won’t miss any of the latest happenings at Sustenance Cooking Studio.

In the meantime, I thought I’d make myself at home, stretch my feet, loot his office, and put my dictionary wherever I wanted. I hope you don’t mind.

The first order of business was to find some kind of artsy party, and I did that without doing anything. I got an e-mail about No Shame Theatre, and with equal parts laziness and intrigue, I said to myself, “This’ll work.”

And work it did. I discovered that No Shame is an open mic type affair that serves as a testing ground for playwrights and actors. It started more than 20 years ago in Iowa and has spread across the globe, like the pubic lice of experimental theater. It’s coming to SLO on Dec. 10 at the Little Theatre, where they’ll open their doors for submissions at 10:30 p.m. The first 15 scripts get accepted regardless of content, and an hour later, the scenes will be performed. The whole process is spontaneous and organic, providing actors with the perfect opportunity to jump into roles and test their skills.

I met the local organizers at Buffalo Pub and Grill because that’s my job, damn it, and I knew there’d be beer. They told me that anything goes at No Shame, as long as a script meets three basic rules: It must be original. It can only be five minutes long. And the participants can’t break anything (including the law).

“Is nudity okay?” I asked, hoping to peep a real live boob.

JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE :  SLO Little Theatre director Kevin Harris said he would literally kill for an act with creative juggling. Find out if he means it on Dec. 10 at 10:30 p.m. - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE : SLO Little Theatre director Kevin Harris said he would literally kill for an act with creative juggling. Find out if he means it on Dec. 10 at 10:30 p.m.

“As long as you don’t have a boner onstage,” said Kevin Harris, executive director of the SLO Little Theatre, soon to be known as the No Shame zone. “That’s the actual rule in the law book. No boners. And there’s a picture of the guy from Growing Pains.”

Wendy-Marie Foerster is the membership director at the Clark Center. She did No Shame Theatre for two years while studying playwrighting in college and plans to hold a No Shame event at least once a month, maybe once every two weeks. She expects the first night to draw a lot of curious observers, but says people really jump on board once it gets going.

“We’ll have a show on Friday no matter what,” she said. “We’re all bringing a few scripts in case there aren’t enough audience submissions.”

If you want to test run anything you’ve been working on—a scene, a song, a stand-up routine, creative juggling perhaps, this is the place. Bring a copy for each character in your script, and see if it works for a live studio audience.

“Nothing’s clearer than crickets,” said Wendy-Marie. “Sometimes people worry a lot about character development and scene structure, but the crazy shit usually works best, pieces with non linear plots.”

The best she ever saw was a duo that beat bongos and dropped one-liners about people at Wal-Mart.

“I’m a little nervous, but it’ll give me a chance to get some work out there that’s just been sitting on my computer,” said Katie Mack-Montenegro, an interning director at Santa Maria’s Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. She’s never done No Shame and isn’t quite sure what to expect. “Someone who shows up next Friday might be the next Arthur Miller.”

But he or she also might be the next Carrot Top. There’s no guarantee anything at No Shame will be good, but that gamble is part of the allure. Kevin and Wendy-Marie said some nights suck out loud, while others are mind-blowing.

EXPERIMENTAL :  Katie Mack-Montenegro has some work in progress that she’s prepared to expose to criticism and, hopefully, praise. - PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • PHOTO BY NICK POWELL
  • EXPERIMENTAL : Katie Mack-Montenegro has some work in progress that she’s prepared to expose to criticism and, hopefully, praise.

]“Admission is free, so the audience can’t really complain,” Kevin said.

“And there will always, always, always be beer.”

Sadly, the beer is not free.

Kevin says he’s seen a lot of dark roommate fantasies played out at No Shame, whether the writer wants to finally fight the guy or profess his love. The worst performances tend to come from people ranting like lunatics, and there’s a lot of politically incorrect and offensive material that makes its way onstage. Consider yourselves forewarned.

“I believe that everyone has a voice and should be heard, but don’t use the stage to be disrespectful,” Katie said.

That’s good advice, but it’s not one of the three rules. You can use the stage for whatever you want on Dec. 10 at the SLO Little Theatre starting at 10:30 p.m. Have a piece in your hands, but remember: No boners.

Contributing writer Nick Powell contributes his contributions through Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach. Contribute your comments to aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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