I find it curious that Mike Kee recently took the time to write a long and detailed letter against a performance of “No Shame Theatre” at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre without actually taking the time to attend the performance in question (“What’s happened to the Theatre?” Dec. 30). His opinion is that “this stuff belongs at some late night comedy club where you can be as crass and offensive as you desire. But not on public property in our community theater.”
Exactly what “stuff” are you referring to, Mr. Kee? Certainly you are not talking about the outstanding performances by some of the best actors on the Central Coast? Perhaps you were speaking of the theater pieces, which explored not only the human condition, but love and family relationships as well?
Unfortunately, Mr. Kee cannot specify the “No Shame” piece to which he is referring since he wasn’t at the performance. And yet, he feels it is within his rights to call the community to action against the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, encouraging them to voice their opinions to the theater staff, board members, and City Council members. I highly doubt anyone who experienced our Central Coast “No Shame’s” inaugural performance would follow this advice.
As someone who was there, I can tell you that the evening was anything but “smutty filth.” Anyone who has experienced “No Shame” at any of the more than 40 locations throughout the United States can attest to the excitement of sitting in the audience with no idea what is about to happen—in pure anticipation of the magic of original work. Those of us in the lobby at the Little Theatre on Dec. 11 witnessed the open collaboration of actors and writers from Santa Maria to Paso Robles. It was a wonderful evening full of people sharing their work openly and without fear. It had nothing to do with theater politics or personal grudges. It simply was what it was.
Naturally, not every five-minute performance presented was appreciated in the same way by every audience member. Taste is subjective. Some people consider M. Butterfly, which not only won a Drama Desk award and Tony award but was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, to be offensive, while others consider it a masterpiece. Some people consider David Mamet to be vulgar and offensive, while others flock to the theater based purely on his name on the poster.
“No Shame Theatre” has hosted such prominent playwrights as Rebecca Gilmore, Naomi Wallace, Mac Wellman, Jeff Goode, Jonathan Price, Bonnie Metzgar, Jason Grote, Tanya Saracho, and many more. Who knows what playwrights, poets, comedians, and songwriters will emerge from the Central Coast “No Shame” experience?
Life is not all revivals and O’Neill, Mr. Kee. It also includes vulgarity, sensuality, and originality. I for one applaud Kevin Harris and the entire SLOLT board for their vision in hosting “No Shame” Theatre and giving emerging artists an opportunity to find and develop their voice. In fact, your letter did nothing more than encourage me to make a donation to the theater in support of original work and artistic expression.