Taffety Punk Theatre Company: The Car Plays (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

Taffety Punk Theatre Company: The Car Plays

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

13:41:00
I'm Rebecca Sheir and you're listening to "Metro Connection." Today we're talking about invention and innovation and earlier in the show, we heard about a particular innovation that's causing quite a stir and quite a bit of drama, the electric car.

MALE 1

13:41:15
Well, you have to watch out for the arrows of righteous indignation.

MALE 2

13:41:18
Pioneers often get arrows in their butt, is that what you're saying Dave?

SHEIR

13:41:22
But as far as D.C. actor, Marcus Kyd, is concerned...

MR. MARCUS KYD

13:41:25
People stuck in their cars and so much stuff happens in your car...

SHEIR

13:41:28
Pretty much all cars.

KYD

13:41:30
...and it gets so intense because you're right next to each other and you can't escape each other...

SHEIR

13:41:33
Are dramatic.

KYD

13:41:34
...this is perfect drama.

SHEIR

13:41:35
I mean, really dramatic.

KYD

13:41:37
And it will be cheap to produce.

SHEIR

13:41:40
Which is why Taffety Punk, the theatre company Marcus helped found in 2004 is presenting "The Car Plays." Three one-act plays about, well...

KYD

13:41:50
People in a car.

SHEIR

13:41:51
Hence the whole cheap to produce thing.

KYD

13:41:53
As you can see the set here is two chairs.

SHEIR

13:41:54
Here, by the way, is the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in Southeast D.C. where I recently dropped in on a rehearsal for one of "The Car Plays," Buggy and Tyler.

MALE 3

13:42:04
You know why all those women want to hang out with me? I don't make adjustments. You might learn something.

MALE 4

13:42:09
What? Like how to be less of a (unintelligible)

MALE 5

13:42:11
What the hell was that?

3

13:42:12
I don't know. I didn't see it. It didn't sound good, though, did it?

5

13:42:14
It sounded big.

3

13:42:15
Do you think the tire's flat?

5

13:42:16
How do I know?

3

13:42:17
Well, see if you can lean out and look.

5

13:42:18
It's pitch dark out.

3

13:42:19
Does it sound like the tire's flat?

5

13:42:22
No.

SHEIR

13:42:23
That's Eric Messener as Buggy and Jason Latt as Tyler. The play is the brainchild of Taffety Punk's new resident playwright...

SHEIR

13:42:31
As the resident playwright, what does that mean exactly?

SHEIR

13:42:33
...Gwydion Suilebhan.

MR. GWYDION SUILEBHAN

13:42:34
We're figuring that out. We've worked together for a long time, we have a good relationship and we're going to figure out stuff to do together.

KYD

13:42:40
Yes, you know, I mean, I wanted Gwydion to feel good about showing us new stuff because we can mess around and we can jam on these things and if we find one we like, like this, we'll put it up.

SHEIR

13:42:49
And that whole idea of messing around, of jamming, is what Taffety Punk is all about. Mainly, Marcus Kyd says, because you just don't see enough of that kind of thing these days in American theatre.

KYD

13:42:59
As much possible we wanted to be about the artists because we feel like American theatre is using artists but they're migrant workers as opposed to the artist coming up with the work and deciding what they want to do. So this is very much an artist-driven company.

SHEIR

13:43:11
And those artists have talents that are all over the map. you've got your highly trained classical artists...

KYD

13:43:17
Highly trained movement artists.

SHEIR

13:43:19
…you've got your musicians, your dancers...

KYD

13:43:21
Any number of skills that, you know, in the professional world, when we get cast very often it's just walking around furniture and talking.

SHEIR

13:43:28
But not in Taffety Punk show. I mean, yes, obviously they do do straight plays.

KYD

13:43:33
Like this?

SHEIR

13:43:34
But sometimes they do massive, all-out rock concerts.

KYD

13:43:37
Sometimes we just do dance concerts.

SHEIR

13:43:39
And Marcus says, if they happen to be in the mood...

KYD

13:43:41
Sometimes we get them all in at once.

SHEIR

13:43:44
But here's the thing, and how's this for innovation, whatever Taffety Punk is doing it makes one promise to its audience, no ticket...

SHEIR

13:43:52
How much are tickets?

SHEIR

13:43:53
...ever costs more than...

KYD

13:43:55
Ten bucks.

SHEIR

13:43:56
For everybody, all the time?

KYD

13:43:57
Everybody, all the time. We feel like the theatre's abandoning most of the country by charging too much money. So we don't ever want somebody not to come because of that.

SHEIR

13:44:06
Marcus says they rely on donations.

KYD

13:44:08
Most of our donations come in the $25 variety. Occasionally, we get a nice, big $1,000 check and that's wonderful.

SHEIR

13:44:14
And they split each performance's proceeds with the actors.

KYD

13:44:17
So all the money just keeps circulating in the pool.

SHEIR

13:44:19
But with tickets at $10...

KYD

13:44:22
And that's if we're charging. So very often we do stuff for free.

SHEIR

13:44:26
They have to be pretty smart about their budget, pretty inventive, if you will when putting on a show. I mean, sure some of those rock and dance concerts can be really spectacular but as playwright Gwydion Suilebhan puts it...

SUILEBHAN

13:44:37
We're the exact opposite of the $65 million Spiderman.

SHEIR

13:44:42
In other words, no big expensive spectacles.

SUILEBHAN

13:44:46
No offense to Julie Taymor or the folks working on that but how many of these shows could you make for one Spiderman?

KYD

13:44:54
65 million.

SHEIR

13:44:56
And Taffety Punk's low budget, artist-driven model?

SUILEBHAN

13:44:59
It's less institutionalized, more responsive to audiences and what they're interested in seeing and in breaking down the barriers that keep audiences from seeing theatre.

SHEIR

13:45:08
Is something both Gwydion and Marcus say they're thrilled to be seeing a lot more of around Washington these days.

KYD

13:45:13
You could see Faction of Fools do like pure comedic del arte or Happenstance do their strange dance mime steam punk and you could see us do our weird punk rock thing.

SHEIR

13:45:26
In fact, says Marcus, in a way the local theatre scene is sort of, kind of like, the 80's punk scene.

KYD

13:45:31
You know, all the punk bands in the 80's weren't on the radio. You had to actually go and find them out but they're out there. So go and find out these groups, you know.

SHEIR

13:45:38
And while we're talking punk, perhaps some of you have been curious about another Taffety Punk innovation, I know I was.

SHEIR

13:45:45
How did you come up with the name?

KYD

13:45:46
Taffety Punk came from Shakespeare. Its "All's Well That Ends Well." One of the clowns says something like, "A French crown for your taffety punk." And I was excited at the time, being an old punk rocker that punk was a word that was that old and then it also meant a well-dressed whore, which I think every actor, at some point, feels like. So I was, like, this is it, this is our name.

SHEIR

13:46:06
"The Car Plays" opens this weekend at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. For more on the show and on Taffety Punk Theatre Company, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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