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Taffety Punk Theatre Company

Rape of Lucrece Gets Concert Treatment

The Washington, D.C.–based Taffety Punk Theatre Company will present William Shakespeare's narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece September 12–Octber 6 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street SE.

Directed by Taffety Punk Artistic Marcus Kyd with choreography by company member Erin Mitchell, The Rape of Lucrece embraces what Taffety Punk holds dear: a punk rock mash-up of theatre, music, and dance; a unique take on Shakespeare; and experimentation.

“Anyone who comes expecting a play will be disappointed,” Kyd said in a press release. He calls the production a concert poem using music, dance, sound, and silence—whatever it takes—to move the compelling story off of the page.

Shakespeare's narrative poem recounts the rape of an aristocratic Roman woman by the king's son Tarquin and the consequences of this assault for both Lucrece and the empire. The poem piqued the company's interest in 2008, and since then there have been several versions. The earliest incarnations of the project involved Sean Peoples of Sockets Records, who scored The Rape of Lucrece with sound effects and music as the actors read. Eventually, company member Paulina Guerrero added choreography into the mix. Each new rendition morphed the project into something new. As Taffety Punk is devoted to creating in the cross-sections of different art forms, it's natural that the storytelling of The Rape of Lucrece diverges from traditional staging to incorporate music and dance.

“It's rhetorically lively, filled with imagery and cadence—something that doesn't happen as much in Shakespeare's plays,” company member Kimberly Gilbert, who plays Lucrece, said in the release. “But it's never just poetry for poetry's sake. The rhetoric propels the action of the story and draws you into the emotional truth of the characters.”

“Lucrece spends 28 stanzas staring at a mural,” Kyd said. “It is impossible to stage as a play. With The Rape of Lucrece, the goal is to bring Shakespeare's skill with poetry and sound to the forefront. We're going to amplify it and let it bounce all over the room.”

Taffety Punk has a history of presenting Shakespeare's works, from the all-female Riot Grrrls productions such as Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing to the annual one-night Bootleg Shakespeare, which throws actors in front of an audience after having one day to stage and rehearse such works as Troilus and Cressida, Two Noble Kinsmen, and King John.

The Rape of Lucrece plays at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and runs September 27 through October 6 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Shows are at 8 p.m. All tickets are $10 at or 1-800-838-3006.

February 20, 2012

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