It's Lit: New Sh!t Show Minneapolis
Contrary to what you may have heard on the streets, the New Sh!t Show Minneapolis is NOT just a poetry show. “No,” producer and host Lewis Mundt quickly clarified, “it’s weird. It’s a weird thing.” Started in San Francisco by poets Sam Sax and Nic Alea, the New Sh!t Show is now a chain of performance series across the United States in which performers and audience members are treated to something they've never seen before: the new shit.
Performers from all walks of art debut brand new material meant to encourage creativity and liven discussion. This can include: poetry, storytelling, musical performances of all kinds, improv, mime, live java coding (seriously), and the list goes on. “As long as it’s never been done for an audience before, it’s fair game.”
The New Sh!t Show Minneapolis began in April 2014 after Mundt got the sense that performers, who often feel like they have to “play their hits” when on stage, “might be interested in experimenting a little bit more, and having an excuse and allowance to do that.” Mundt reached out to Allison Broeren, of Word Sprout, and Kate Kunkel Bailey, of Fox Egg Gallery, and both were “super incredibly supportive” in getting the New Sh!t Show up and running. “That’s the thing I really love about the Twin Cities...it’s just such a community full of people who want to help.”
Ever since, the New Sh!t Show Minneapolis has taken place at the Fox Egg Gallery every third Friday of the month at 8 p.m. “We start with a four person open mic, it’s three slots first-come first-served and a random draw for the fourth. We take a little break, and then go into our four to five featured performers. They get up to 10 minutes to do whatever they want to on the stage.”
And he really means whatever: “We had a friend of mine do live java coding, [she] wrote a computer program that you can play a drinking game with. There’s a band called Downrange Telemetrics that does free-form, improv jazz, storytelling, spoken word stuff. [They] went around the audience capturing little audio samples from audience members and then looped that all together. We had a performer once [whose] performance was live-time reacting to 10 minutes of film. So month to month, something really incredible happens every time.”
Mundt’s advice to anyone thinking of getting on stage for the first time? “Do it, do it it’s super fun. The self serving advice is, if you are interested in doing open mic and you don’t think you can do it, come on out to the New Sh!t Show. We have people all the time who have never been on stage before. Because the New Sh!t Show is all about the debut of new work, you’re at the same level as everyone else in the room.”
That supportiveness and sense of community is one of the things Mundt enjoys most about the local reading/performance series scene. “I think that live literature, especially open mics, lets people in. It lets people into the community, at the same time it lets people out of themselves.” He continued to say, “I think that being a writer, and the writing process, can feel like a vacuum sometimes. And live literature is a way to invite more people into the room, and to break the vacuum seal a little bit. So that’s what I really love about it.”
“It’s so fun to be a creator in the Twin Cities. I have such a blast anytime I go to something. I know you’ve talked about Poets & Pints, Poets & Pints is a really wonderful series. David Bayliss does a good job with that. 555 Reads, which is Elizabeth Tannen’s reading series at Five Watt Coffee, is super cool, it’s quick. One of my very very favorite places is called BALLS Cabaret. It’s every Saturday night at midnight at The Southern Theater, hosted by Leslie Ball. It’s totally unpredictable, it’s a truly open stage. I’ve based some of the New Sh!t Show around BALLS Cabaret, just because it’s such a freeing space.”
What’s missing from the local reading series scene? “I want to see early morning readings. I want to see a breakfast reading series. But that’s me, I’m a day person. I want to be in bed by 10 p.m. I don’t want to go to a 9 p.m. reading. I would love to see brunch readings.”
This April will be the New Sh!t Show’s third anniversary, and Mundt has an exciting show in store. “We’re doing the New Sh!t Super Show. We’re going to have 20 performers doing three minutes of work apiece, mostly people who have done the show before.” To accommodate the larger crowd, he’ll be holding the event at Tatterwood Gallery, a new space Mundt is collectively running with friends. Designed as a gathering space for emerging artists, Tatterwood provides space for “anything from rehearsals to concerts to storytelling shows. We’ve got a regular group that uses it for yoga. We’ve got a recording studio in the back.”
Join the New Sh!t Show Minneapolis Facebook group for event announcements and more information. And tune in next week as Mundt and I continue our conversation on the importance of literature and his small press, Beard Poetry.
Lewis Mundt is a writer, publisher, and event producer living in Minneapolis. His work has been published by Revolver, Paper Darts, and The Rumpus, among others, and his debut poetry collection The God of the Whole Animal was released in 2015. He is founder and host of the New Sh!t Show Minneapolis, a monthly series of world premiere, multigenre work, as well as publisher at Beard Poetry. More at lewismundt.com.
Sara Krassin is a Minneapolis based poet, editor, and bibliophile. She currently serves as Poetry Contest Editor for the Water~Stone Review, reads submissions for Jellyfish Highway Press, and interns at The Loft Literary Center in Marketing & Communications. Her poems have appeared in Third Point Press, Artemis Journal, and The Sand Canyon Review. Find her at @MsKrassin.