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Friday, June 1, 2012

Last weekend in review: No Shame Theatre in Carrboro

Posted by on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Toby Huss character of Artie ,the Strongest Man in the World, was created in a No Shame performance.
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  • Toby Huss' character of Artie ,the Strongest Man in the World, was created in a No Shame performance.
It’s almost 10 p.m. on a recent Saturday night at the Carrboro ArtsCenter, and people are scattered in the lobby rehearsing their scripts. They’ll have them to refer to for their coming performances, but they still want to get them right. Most of the performers just got the scripts that day; in some cases, the scripts might not even have been written until a few hours ago.

What has brought them out tonight? It’s the monthly gathering of No Shame Theatre a performance forum devoted to five-minute pieces by anyone who wants to participate. Limits are strictly on time, copyrighted material and not harming the audience.

The tradition of No Shame dates back to 1986; famous alumni include actor/comedian John Leguizamo and the actor Toby Huss, who apparently created his character “Artie, the Strongest Man in the World” for the Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete in a No Shame performance. Hell, that’s good enough for me.


Artie, the Strongest Man in the World, on one of the greatest TV shows of all time, ever.

“Dare to Fail” is No Shame’s credo, but none of the 10 acts I see tonight fall completely flat. Though many of the actors simply perform texts they get when they show up (Mark Cornell, one of the organizers, emails me names and titles afterward), there’s solid material to be found.

The material is, by and large, humor-oriented. Highlights, specifically, are a short piece by Ken Wolpert about a couple analyzing the logic and grammar behind “I Love You More,” a couple of comic songs about condoms and sensitive males by Pete Leary, and a more traditional song called “Front Line” by Adam Fenton that sounds about as good as anything you’d hear on the radio. A couple other pieces sort of trail off and there’s some improvisational exercises that don’t connect with me, but everything exhibits some real thought and professionalism, and is at least over quickly.

Storytelling venues such as the Monti and the Moth have cropped up in the Triangle over the last few years, along with increasing improv groups and open-mic opportunities. For those uncertain of their abilities in such venues, No Shame offers an excellent training ground of sorts. When you’re dared to fail, at least you’ll try. And there’s a few parodies of British sci-fi I’ve been meaning to drag out of the mothballs anyway…

For more information on No Shame’s upcoming performances, visit www.artscenterlive.org

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