Portland has No Shame

This ain’t yo’ mama’s theater.

Are you sick of being just another face in the audience at Portland Center Stage shows? Do you yearn to really experience theatre, but can’t stand the thought of sitting through another tedious, self-important piece of performance art that drags on and on until you drown yourself in the center stage wading pool of cherry? Are you secretly aching to break out of your conservative, sensible shoes-sporting shell and let it all hang out on stage? Do you like to watch?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, No Shame Theatre might be for you. It isn’t for everybody, and side-effects (such as paradigm shifts, laughter, thought, ringing eardrums and spotlight addiction) have been documented and may increase with continued exposure.

Founded by Todd Ristau and John Ruth in 1986, the inaugural performance of No Shame Theatre was delivered from the bed of a pick-up truck in the University of Iowa’s theater parking lot. Eight years later, chapters of No Shame Theatre can be found across the country from New York to Los Angeles and even across the ocean in London.

Now, P-town is getting in on the action. No Shame Theatre Portland opens a trial 5-week run at The Electric Company on Friday, April 9.

Portland was introduced to No Shame last April, with “No Shame Goes to War,” a benefit for the Artist’s Network of Refuse and Resist. The show included work by Ursula K. Le Guin, Jeff Goode, and Viggo Mortensen.

“After the success of “No Shame Goes to War,” there was interest in getting a No Shame chapter going in Portland,” says Steve Rawley, the easy-going PR man for No Shame Portland. “In the fall of this year, we got a core group together and got things underway.”

Photographer Annaliese Moyer, and web-designer husband Lee Moyer, recent transplants and No Shame veterans from Charlottesville, Va., spearhead the group.

Three days before opening night, Steve Rawley has no idea what to expect.

“We usually get a real mixture of amateurs and professionals,” Rawley said. “You might have professional actors working out pieces, followed by someone getting up onstage for the first time.”

“It’s like an open mic for dramatic types. Anybody can do it, though. We’re hoping for a real diverse turn-out,” he said.

And, for those who want to share their work with the world, but get weak in the knees just thinking about being on stage, fear not! There will be plenty of attention-starved actors on hand to cold read your work.

No Shame really does have no shame. When asked what would fly at a typical performance, Rawley chuckled and said, “No Shame has been, historically, just that. Really, anything goes as long as three rules are followed. One, it has to be original, your own work. Second, no laws can be broken, so no shooting up heroin onstage. And third, no damage to the theater or people, so that pretty much rules out pyrotechnics. Other than that, anything goes,” laughed Rawley.

“Anything five minutes and under, that is,” Rawley clarified. “It’s going to be a tight show, with probably 15 pieces. The ‘order’ is taken at 10 and curtain is at 10:30. It has to be tight, because we need to clear out of there by midnight.”