Above: Crispen Stanback ’13 performs stand-up comedy for Randolph's No Shame Theatre.
A veteran performer and director, Mace Archer has experienced his share of stage fright. His newest theatrical venture, Randolph’s No Shame Theatre, has taken that normal nervousness to a new level. And he could not be happier.
No Shame Theatre, hosted by Archer, who is a Randolph College theatre professor, is an open-stage event held on most Friday evenings in the Leggett Lab Theatre. Performers from Randolph and the Lynchburg community are invited to share any type of original work for up to five minutes.
Since performers do not sign up until 30 minutes before the show starts at 10:45 p.m., and no reservations are required for the audience, Archer never knows what to expect from week to week—or if anyone will show up at all. “It’s risky, and also part of the joy of this kind of event,” Archer said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Archer’s fear of playing host to an empty stage was laid to rest last fall when No Shame debuted with 11 performers. Since then, No Shame has attracted a steady stream of performers and curious spectators, including Crispen Stanbach ’13, who performed stand-up comedy, and Olivia Felo ’11, who played guitar and sang original songs.
There have also been puppet shows, laugh circles, and a variety of other performances from students, faculty, staff, and Lynchburg community members.
Elizabeth Zehl ’11, a double major in English (literature) and sociology, used the venue to share funny stories behind her tattoos and other tales from her travels. “The experience was electric,” she said. “No Shame created a welcoming place in which the audience and the performers merged together in a community experience that centered on sharing and appreciating different forms of expression.”
That is exactly what Archer was hoping for and what he had seen at other No Shame Theatres he had visited. “I don’t think there are enough venues for artists to experiment,” he said. “It’s the supportive environment that hits me about No Shame. It’s not a place where people start throwing tomatoes at stuff that’s not good.”
Laura-Gray Street, a Randolph English professor who has read from her published works of poetry, has been pleased with her experiences with No Shame. “I’m struck by how valuable it is for students, faculty, staff, and community members to share their passion for creating art, whether that art is comedy, music, poetry, fiction, puppetry, or impromptu,” she said. “No Shame seems to me to provide a funky, alternative venue for exploring and opening up an ongoing conversation about creativity.”