No Shame Theatre founder Todd Ristau announced last week that the late night venue, long a mainstay of downtown Roanoke’s creative community, will become a summer-only program, taking place in June and July on the Hollins University campus.
The announcement comes at a bittersweet time, as at 8:30 p.m. Thursday (tomorrow) on Mill Mountain’s Waldron Stage, No Shame will celebrate its 10th birthday in Roanoke. The event is free, through reservations are required.
No Shame Theatre has a slogan, “Where anything can happen … and usually does.”
Performers can present skits, songs, dance, poetry and less classifiable pieces, so long as the work was original and didn’t last longer than five minutes. When Ristau founded it in 2003 in partnership with Mill Mountain Theatre, No Shame attracted big crowds and twice-yearly “Best of” shows would sell out. Another Roanoke mainstay, the comedy troupe Big Lick Conspiracy, first met and performed together through No Shame.
Over the past couple of years, however, attendance has dwindled to just a handful of regulars.
Ristau, who runs the Hollins Playwrights Lab, said in an email that No Shame is a victim of its own success. “Everyone said there was no point in trying to do something late nights or edgy, because nobody would want to do it or stay up that late. Ten years later, there’s a vibrant and rich downtown scene with lots and lots of stuff to do and venues for original works and readings all over town. … No Shame has never been about nostalgia or duty or tradition — it is about serving a need. We did. There is no shame in recognizing that the need isn’t there anymore.”