No Shame Eugene is a Lane County Arts Council sponsored theater group that is moving into its second year with a kickoff show on February 5th. Through partnerships with Lord Leebrick Theater Company and the City of Eugene, No Shame Eugene has secured a weekly practice space and a monthly venue to host its 15 original 5 minute performances, which are new every month.
On the first Friday of every month at 7:30pm, the doors to the Atrium building (10th and Olive, caddy corner to the Eugene Public Library) open to receive both performers and audience members for FREE. From 7:30pm to 8:00pm, the only prescheduled act of the night, a band, plays and warms up the audience for the 8:00pm start of the performances.
The 15 original 5 minute performances are taken from the first 15 performers who walk through the doors and contact Artistic Director Jeff Geiger, who puts together the order of the night’s show. While the performers are asked to fill out a form when expressing interest to take the stage (title of piece, type of piece, first line, last line, lighting and sound cues, and comparable movie rating) as well as hand in a disposable copy of their scripts, the performances are unjuried and uncensored. Only three rules govern whether a performance is acceptable: 1) All works must be original, 2) No breaking anything, including the law, 3) All performances must be 5 minutes or less. Otherwise, anything flies. No shame.
The variety of performances ranges from skits, to monologues, to dancing, to puppetry, to music, to standup comedy, to magic acts, to juggling, to rants, to game shows. No Shame Eugene is always looking for new kinds of acts and new talent. Anything from a G rating to a R rating can be performed. As is explained at the beginning of each show, the Jaws theme will be played to divide the night when the tone of the performances phases from family friendly to a R rating. Essentially, all cussing and adult themes are saved for the later half of the show, and a cue is given to the audience so that they can choose whether or not to protect their delicate sensibilities.
Only the first 15 pieces received at the door on the night of the show are allowed to perform, and the 5 minute time limit is strictly enforced. A timer, set to 5 minutes, starts a countdown at the beginning of every piece. The timer is connected to the lights and the mic, and when the five minutes is up, an obnoxious buzzing sounds, the lights and the mic go dead, and the piece is ended. Make way for the next piece.
Since the order of the performances is put together on the night of the show, the performers won’t know when they’re supposed to go on until the order is read during the night’s introduction. After that, the performances are introduced as they come up throughout the night.
So, how does No Shame Eugene know that it will have enough performances to fill 15 slots with original 5 minute pieces? The founding members of the group and a core group of writers and performers write and practice to ensure that a full marquee of entertainment can be provided.
Every Thursday, at 126 W. Broadway Ave., from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, a rehearsal and writing session is held. It’s open to the public, and people interested in writing material for shows, performing in shows, or helping out are encouraged to attend.
During the first two weeks after a show, the practice sessions involve a brainstorming process dubbed The Method. At the start, a timer is set for five minutes, then all attending members call out ideas, scraps of ideas, phrases, scenarios, random words, etc.. After the five minutes is up, the suggestions are voted on to find the top four that people are interested in producing, then two teams break apart, each charged with starting a script from one of the ideas. They have fifteen minutes to come up with characters, the first line, the last line, and the script’s story arc. Once the fifteen minutes has passed, one of the members from each team claims the script in order to bring it home, flesh it out, and bring it back later in a completed form. Then, the teams break apart again with the second set of ideas and the process is repeated.
The practice sessions closer to show night are used as opportunities to cast pieces, stage and rehearse, and polish acts. Memorizing lines is optional, and most performances have scripts on stage on show night. No shame.
New writers and actors are always welcome. Not all performances on show night are scripts that originated during Thursday night practice sessions. Walk-ins on show night are taken, and encouraged.
Participation in the Thursday practice session is optional. Since only the first 15 pieces taken at the door on show night are given opportunity to perform, participation in the Thursday night sessions doesn’t guarantee a spot in the show. Interested performers must show up in time. No exceptions. If a performer shows up in time, they are allowed to submit one piece, though, if slots are still open close to show time, each performer is allowed to submit an additional piece until the marquee is full. What’s more, all performers must come prepared not only with all their own scripts, but also all their own props.
No Shame Eugene is a nonprofit theater group, and all donations that are taken at the door on show nights and during practice sessions go to advertising and to the further functioning of the theater.
It is the hope of No Shame Eugene that you will see performances that will blow you away as well as those that will make you think you could do better. Then, they want you to come back and try to do it yourself. No shame.
All performances and practice sessions are FREE, and No Shame Eugene encourages people who are interested in participating to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to address any questions. Also, interested folks can check them out on facebook and myspace for show clips and updates; search: “No Shame Eugene.”