Backstage Inc., The Performing Arts Store, a business which will cater to those who work in the theater community as well as to playgoers, opened last week at 2101 P St. NW, in the Dupont Circle area.

Backstage will stock scripts and technical theater products such as stage make-up, lighting equipment, masks, puppets and "jester sticks." Posters, memorabilia, books on the performing arts and recordings also will be sold. Small props will be available for rent.

The store is the brainchild of Jean Rosenthal, a 1980 graduate of the George Washington University theater arts program and a specialist in lighting design.

"I got the idea basically while working in theater," Rosenthal said. "Anytime we needed things, people would comment 'wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to send to Drama Bookstore in New York' " for scripts.

Rosenthal added that since Washington's theater industry is so much smaller than the performing arts community in New York, she felt she would have to supplement her theater supplies with merchandise for theater-goers, dance lovers and opera aficionados. In January, a schedule of classes and exhibits will begin, with a make-up workshop, a mask-making course by local performer Jack Guidone, and a showing of "ballet art" by Heidi Tobias, also of Washington.

Backstage Inc. is owned by a corporation consisting of Rosenthal and her parents.