The Shame Game – Blog Post by Marcia Yerman (Dancing at the Shame Prom)

capture1 (1)The Shame Game by Marcia Yerman

How does shame shape who we are and how we live our lives?

This was the question that editors Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter put to twenty-six women. The result was the anthology Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small. The essays include examination of alcoholism, sexual abuse, suicide, distorted body images, hoarding, alienation, racial identity, and anxiety.

The response was tremendous. It opened the floodgate for narratives to finally be shared openly. It didn’t hurt that Brené Brown had delivered a TED talk in 2012 on the subject.

In tandem to the book’s release, I did a health article about the subject. I learned how shame specifically impacts girls and women. Shame is a belief that reinforces the concept, “I am bad.” Shame is feeling worthless. Shame is quite specific, as in, “I am damaged.” It creates low self-esteem and a poor sense of self-worth, usually accompanied by a lot of “should haves.”

Since most women are “relationship-centric,” they often end up bringing childhood shame and a “less than” mindset into their adult interactions.

As an emotion, shame is frequently at the root of mental health problems like depression and anxiety. It can create a sense of isolation, which diminishes an individual’s self-esteem. Often, people are unable to even speak out loud what they feel ashamed about. The source of shame can be directly tied to a core value, thereby necessitating the need to cover up at all costs. It leads to an ongoing internal negative dialogue, with refrains such as, “I wasn’t good enough” or “I deserved it.” This often paves the way to the desire to stay invisible. Who wants to feel vulnerable? Yet, this stunts our ability to grow and can translate into a fear of takings risks.

Often, women don’t readily acknowledge shame as a presenting problem. They can have body image dread and not realize it is shame. Feeling shame about one’s body, for whatever reason, can lead to eating disorders. Shame about sexual abuse can lead to avoidance of intimacy. Shame about an addiction can delay or sabotage efforts to recover. In essence, shame is connected to self-perception and how you think people perceive you.

And let’s not forget the impact of societal expectations. The issues of class, race, class, gender, sexuality, ideology, and economic status readily supply eternal pressures. How often are we forced into a false norms…rather than challenging those norms?

Women have been conditioned to demand perfection of themselves.

They want to be accepted and are afraid of being different. Trying to measure up to airbrushed celebrities and models is no easy task. The result can lead to self-hate of one’s body and oneself.

The foundations of shame are laid at the ground level where the family of origin’s dynamics evolved. It then moves outward toward group identification. If there is a family behavior such as alcoholism, suicide, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, it remains with us. The same can hold true for the larger identity commonality, such as race or religion. The flip side of that is the use of shame as a tool to promote a specific ideology, thereby keeping group memberships and affiliations intact.

The Shame Prom anthology has been functioning as a tool for dialogue while allowing readers to discover, “Oh. It’s not just me. I’m not the only one.” They have named the emotion and now realize that they are not alone.

Sharing experiences gives rise to empathy, which is essential to healing. It helps to normalize the shame experience and release blame.

Reaching an audience through the dramatization of these personal accounts is the next step in amplifying the need to let go of shame. The actresses are in place; the audience will be an integral part of the equation.

A talk back with authors and the director will directly following the reading.

Please join us.

Marcia G. Yerman, based in New York City, writes profiles, essays, and articles focusing on women’s issues, human rights, the environment, politics, culture and the arts. She has been published by AlterNet, The Raw Story, Women News Network, RH Reality Check, and The Women’s Media Center. She has verticals at The Huffington Post, Open Salon, and Daily Kos. Her articles are archived at Yerman comes out of the world of the visual arts, where she has exhibited for over twenty-five years. Recognized for her narrative and psychological paintings, her artwork can be seen at


Dancing At the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories that Kept Us Small
Adapted and Directed by Ashley Marinaccio
Shame is a powerful thing. It can weigh on your heart and mind, diminish your sense of self-worth, and impact the way you live in the world. But what happens when you share that secret burden? A theatrical adaptation of an anthology written by various women sharing stories of overcoming shame, written in collaboration with all of the authors of this anthology. 
10/21 at 7:30


 EstroGenius Festival – October 15th – November 10th

post_card_10-2_830Lagniappe (pronounced “LAN-yap”) is the old New Orleans custom of a shopkeeper adding a little something extra to a purchase as a gift for good measure.  In New Orleans lagniappe is a way of life.  As Mark Twain wrote in Life on the Mississippi, it is “a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.”

These three short plays, with an epilogue for lagniappe, take you on a journey with two families, ordinary people in the extraordinary times before, during and after Katrina. It explores the meaning of home through the eyes of the ones who stayed, the ones who left, the ones who couldn’t make it back, who made it back and the ones who didn’t make it at all.


Ivy Theatre Company

ivy-eye-150x150Ivy Theatre Company was founded by Audrey Alford, Katie Braden, and Gwenevere Sisco in 2013.  We are dedicated to dynamic storytelling that explores the human condition in a visceral way in order to provoke thought and challenge both the artist and the audience. Our work climbs inside, up and over the walls that have confined and silenced the voices of the few and the oppressed.​
Ivy also produced “Black Ice” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival and “Like Poetry” in FringeNYC at LaMaMa this summer.
Visit for more information.
Blog edited by Christine Siracusa

John Doe Theatre Company

John Doe Image (1)John Doe Theater Company is a group of actors, artists, and writers who have banded together to create new works, live entertainment, and theater. Our mission is to actualize earnest and open works that challenge ourselves and those we seek to affect with our art. Watch us shape-shift with each new theatrical offering.​

We are proud to announce our second co-production for the Autumn Season, Love At Home, an original full length play by our own Mary Matoula Webb. It is featured as part of this year’s EstroGenius Festival. More info to come, but tickets are already available!
John Doe on Facebook.

Black Henna Productions


In September of 2003, a handful of innovative artists decided to embark on an epic journey. The goal would be a new theatre company forged in the image of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where every member of the company collaborated on every piece, either writing, acting, directing, designing, or filling any other role that fit their own personal skills.

What came from this venture became Black Henna Productions, an independent theatre company, run entirely by theatrical artists, with the commitment to bring new, exciting, and challenging theatre to the world.

Join them on their journey.  Visit the worlds they create.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.  You won’t be disappointed.

Manny Rodriguez’ Runo Rimac is a comical exploration of the odd profession of acting, dating, and zombie moans.

Festival Dates: October 15th – October 17th at 8pm

Meet Cheryl King and Stage Left Studio.

Cheryl King Headshot

Cheryl King

This year, the EstroGenius Festival is being held in two spaces. Cheryl is the director of one of those spaces, Stage Left Studios, as well as the producer of Solo Voce.

Cheryl King is the creator and producing director of Stage Left Studio, in NYC, as well as a playwright, director and actor.  From 2007 – 2010 she was the resident acting coach at All My Children.

She first began writing for herself as a mime, in 1979. In 1982 she wrote her first standup comedy routine, and within two months had embarked on her career as a touring comic. She worked in most of the US for the following 13 years – first as an opening act, moving quickly to middle act and for her last five years as a headliner. She moved to NYC in 1989, and wrote her first solo show, “not a nice girl” in 1996. “not a nice girl” was produced in LA, NYC, Chicago and Ft. Collins, CO. She studied acting with Carol Fox Prescott (NYC) and Rod Menzies (LA), playwriting with Jeffrey Sweet (NYC) and improvisation with Gary Austin (NYC) and Michael Gellman (Second City). She began teaching writing workshops in 1999, both in NYC and in Los Angeles, traveling there every six weeks to teach multiple workshops. In NYC, she teaches a weekly writing workshop, which has generated several plays, including Michelle Ramoni’s June and Nancy, and Margaret Morrison’s Home in Her Heart, which Cheryl also directed. Cheryl created the long-running series Forbidden Kiss LIVE which plays monthly at Stage Left Studio, and for which she regularly writes sketches for herself and other cast members. She wrote The Adventures of Naughty Nurse Elza for Elza Zagreda, portions of which have been performed in Forbidden Kiss LIVE and which will be presented as a full-length show in 2013. She regularly creates new sketches for The Podcasters, an episodic play for herself and TC Corwin, which is performed in Forbidden Kiss and will be presented at Stage Left in 2014. She has served as dramaturge for over 50 actor/playwrights, including award-winning playwright/performers Joe Hutcheson and Frank Blocker.
Stage Left Studio is the realization of the vision of Cheryl King, acting coach, director, performer, playwright and producer.  Stage Left has an attractive, art-filled lobby,  connected by a grand doorway to the tastefully appointed 20′ x 24′ studio, with 45 comfortable chairs, great lighting, and beautiful windows with a view of St. John the Baptist cathedral and Madison Square Garden. Easy access restroom,  A state-of-the-art sound and light system, projector and screen, top-of-the-line Roland weighted key digital piano, mics and stands are provided. WiFi. Stage Left is a member of LITNY, League of Independent Theater New York.  The space has an elevator and is handicapped accessible.​

EstroGenius 2013: October 14th – November 10th



We have a festival and it is jammed packed. Jen and I will be on Heidi Russell’s Salon Radio tonight at 9pm on City World Radio to discuss this year’s festival and the artists involved.

We will be performing in two theatres: Cheryl King’s Stage Left and Orietta Crispino’s Theatrelab – two great spaces created by two accomplished artists. They will be featured this week on the blog.

Two brand new additions to the Festival is our collaboration with with Black Henna Productions, Godbox, Lagniappe, Ivy Theatre Company, John Doe Theatre Co., Alaina Hammond and Shame Prom. Each of these companies and artists will be co-producing with Estro a short run of their original pieces.

We are also adding The Creative Lounge which will be two day-long events (from approx. 10am to 7pm) at Theaterlab (one of this year’s Estro venues, along with Cheryl King’s Stage Left Studio) and will take place in all 3 spaces at Theaterlab. The main theater will house our visual art show & networking, and the 2 smaller rooms will house the panel discussions & workshops.

And last but not least, Women in Motion, Girl Be Heard, Visual Art and Short Plays are back. We are also have EstroTaneous, Monologue Night, and Play Readings. For the latter, I will keep you posted.

So, that’s where we are right now. Stay tuned to find out more info!