Washington's small theaters: Taffety Punk Theatre Company

Friday, April 16, 2010; WE27

For Taffety Punk, local theater lost its way when actors could no longer afford to see plays. So the company began offering shows on the cheap as a sort of community service, even if that meant just barely scraping by.

"What we're doing is not going to make money," says artistic director Marcus Kyd.

The brainchild of a group of rockers, actors and dancers, Taffety upends conventional wisdom, blending theater, movement and music for no more than $10 a ticket.

When Shakespeare Theatre Company produced an all-male "Romeo and Juliet," Taffety responded with an all-female rendition. For its annual "Bootleg Shakespeare," the actors learn lines to an entire play but rehearse just one day. It's something of an Olympic event, and the first performance, Kyd says, was "sort of like, 'Here's a train wreck. Come on down!' " Yet last year's "Bootleg" at Folger Theatre was so packed people were turned away. Not that Taffety is letting the success go to its head -- or its bottom line. "Bootleg" is still free.

What to see next: "Burn Your Bookes." April 28-May 22 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE. 800-838-3006. http://www.taffetypunk.com. $10.

-- Stephanie Merry

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