Thursday, June 22, 2017 This Week's Paper

Toy Boat brings micro-theater to Tacoma

In its debut production, Toy Boat Theatre is presenting “Dakota’s Belly, Wyoming” – to a lucky 35 audience members at a time. As the recipient of a three-month grant through Spaceworks to move into a vacant storefront on Hilltop, the group is not concerned about the intimate theater space. In fact, its location next to Fulcrum Gallery fits perfectly with its mission as a micro-theater company: to present good acting in a humble house.

“There’s this mindset out there that you need a lot of money to put on a good show, but the most important element of theater is good acting and a good story,” Associate Artistic Director Jen Davis said. “You can do that in a parking lot or an alley. The thought is that people will come see these types of performances because we’re presenting something honest.”

Toy Boat Theatre began as a summer venture between Davis and University of Puget Sound adjunct professor Marilyn Bennett. Bennett is directing the piece, and Davis plays the part of Dakota.

“What we look for in a script is that it makes an honest, emotional connection with the audience without being pretentious,” said Hayley Hilmes, public relations liaison for the theatre. “This play really meets that criteria, which is very exciting.”

The dramatic comedy unfolds around a cast of only three characters. Set in the American West, the play centers around Dakota and her newly separated brother and sister-in-law. “The play is very funny and revolves around these quirky characters,” Hilmes said. The company calls the performance nuanced, funny, endearing, sexy and ultimately transforming.

The group is also planning additional performances and events such as staged readings, a series of workshops and musical performances throughout the rest of the summer. “We’re also looking into the possibility of doing some work with our Spaceworks neighbors, Fab-5,” Hilmes added. “We’re happy to be able to add to the diversity of the art scene in Tacoma and bring something different that people may not have seen before.”

The production runs Aug. 5-13, and tickets are $10 in advance at or $12 at the door.

Toy Boat Theatre is located at 1314 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.