Today is our fifth annual Bootleg Shakespeare, Taffety Punk’s most popular and insane show of the year. This presents an opportune time to piggyback onto my last post–before I was so rudely interrupted by dickdom that is.
Bootleg is a one-day event: actors, designers and director show up at the Folger Theatre in the morning, rehearse an entire work of Shakespeare, and perform it at 7pm the night of. Needless to say, our performances are of better quality than most Shakespeare performances I’ve seen anywhere, despite having one day of rehearsal and the occasional call for line. ‘Cos our people got talent. This is a good example of using resources in the right way: The show is free of charge; actors do it for the love and split any donations we receive at the end of the night; the space is free for us because the Folger likes us and Bootleg is mutually beneficial for them.
It’s all about working with what you have and using your wiles.
In my mind, Bootleg embodies minimalist theater–not so much in the textbook sense, but in the sense that we want to be streamlined. If you can pare yourself down to the bare minimum, you can accomplish great things without a red cent! Bootleg is quintessential Taffety Punk: last-minute, DIY, chaotic, classical, effing good.
When it comes to survival tactics, I’m all about cutting the fat, and being able to do that takes discipline and good sense. For example, Taffety could get good press and nice community buzz if we participated in Capital Fringe. But we don’t–the cost, stress and time-suck of putting something up for Fringe isn’t worth the payoff for us. Also, it would be really nice to have our own space right now for several reasons, but to do so we’d either be paying for a cheap place somewhere dangerous or far, or draining ourselves dry, which is how actor salaries get cut and ticket prices go up. And that goes against our mission.
So, the thoughts of the day for me are from the personal growth section of the bookstore:
- Go minimal.
- Know thyself.
- Be who you are.
What is it you really need? Does your company need its own space? Do you need an ensemble? Do you need print ads? Do you need an education department, a liquor license, paper tickets…?
There are no right or wrong answers, just honest ones. Here are a few exercises I like to use on myself:
Spend time examining the mission statement. What does it say, and what does it really say?
Translate our mission statement into a few real-world actions.
What are our bare essentials?
What are some actions I can take to either get or sustain those essential things?
What are my assets?
How do I cultivate those assets?
Name a few adjectives that describe my company.
These ideas get floated around a lot, but it’s important to keep them on the brain. Simple concepts, but important work.