Texas Tech University

Script Raiders Hosts No Shame Theatre

Shane Strawbridge

February 22, 2019

Ultimately, No Shame helps to provide a space where everyone has a voice and a chance to tell their story.

No Shame Theatre is a place where "anything can happen and usually does."

Audiences hear this refrain every time they attend a performance of No Shame Theatre, hosted by Script Raiders at Texas Tech University. At the performances, writers and performers are given five minutes to present anything they want in any format they choose as long as they adhere to three basic rules:

  1. The work must be five minutes or less.
  2. The work must be original.
  3. You cannot break anything, including the law.

Other than that, all bets are off. So far this year, samplings have ranged from traditional scenes and monologues to stand-up comedy, dance improvisations, songs, poetry, and more.

"The most memorable piece so far this season was one that was put on by a small group of undergraduates from the theatre department," says No Shame host Shane Strawbridge. "They sat on stage watching videos on their cell phones which the audience could not hear while eating bowl after bowl of cereal. It wasn't a traditional theatrical presentation, and I feel that it really embraced what No Shame can be. Yes, we can present traditional fare, but it's a place to experiment as well, where you can try something new without fear because the audience is there to support the experiment and not rip it apart. It's a really interesting family dynamic in the audiences."

No Shame Theatre was founded by Todd Ristau and Stan Ruth at the University of Iowa in 1986. The first performances were done outdoors in the back of a green 1976 Dodge pick-up truck that belonged to Ristau. Since its inception, No Shame has spread nationwide with performances in Oregon, Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, California, Georgia, Nevada, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Montana, and Alaska. There was briefly a chapter in Ireland.

For some, No Shame is all about providing opportunities to aspiring storytellers to receive instant and reliable feedback on their work.

"I use this event to present monologues and scenes I have been working on for potential shows," says MFA Playwriting Student Dillon Rouse. "No Shame Theatre is valuable because it gives students permission to experiment with projects outside of their comfort zone without being judged."

No Shame performances attract not only established playwrights, but also those who have not had as much opportunity to have their work presented in a public setting.

"Writing for No Shame is therapeutic," said Junior Theatre Arts major Daniyl Salikhov. "It's very cathartic to see your demons being released on stage."

Ultimately, No Shame helps to provide a space where everyone has a voice and a chance to tell their story.

"In any theatre program we always have to fight to have diversity and to give an outlet to those students that don't necessarily see themselves represented on stage," explains senior BFA Design student Matthew Mosher. "It's very important to provide that outlet. I think it allows people who don't identify as playwrights to branch out and try writing. It's an important creative and expressive outlet. It has helped me to really branch out and look at what theatre is and what I can do to further my theatre education experience."

In the future, the host of No Shame hopes to expand their offerings even further.

"I'd love to see work from people outside the theatre department," says Strawbridge. "I think it would be exciting to have a five-minute lecture about architecture or physics or to witness an original work from an aspiring composer. Maybe someone is afraid of being on stage in front of people and just wants to stand there for five minutes as a test of their resolve. I love all of it."

"It's why we're here."

No Shame Theatre can be seen on March 1, April 5, and May 3 at 11:00pm in the Maedgen Theatre on the Texas Tech Campus. Admission is free. Sign-ups for people to present their work start at 10:30pm.