Every Thursday, we round up Pay-Whats and other cheap seats at local theaters. Just so’s your weekend is a little easier.

Before we start, remember the general rules: (A) Reservations for these? Not so much. (B) They’re offered on a space-available basis, so have a backup plan. (C) Click each theater name for details and contact info.

It’s a nice-looking batch this week, with one heavy-duty show (The Monument) checking out and another (Picasso’s Closet) checking in. And note the bargain shows from the graduating class of the country’s only one-year intensive master’s-degree program in classical theater; it just might surprise you. Here’s what I know about:

  • As You Like It and The Cardinal, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting. Graduating class performs Shakespeare’s famous comedy and a little-seen Jacobean ripsnorter by James Shirley. They’re good; I saw the Shakespeare earlier this week, and I’m checkin’ out The Cardinal tonight. Performances ($10 suggested donation) alternate through June 24; see Web site for schedule and RSVP info. STC rehearsal studio, 507 8th St. SE.
  • The Monument, Theater Alliance. Jennifer Mendenhall and Alexander Strain in a brutal play about war crimes and making peace. It’s rough stuff, but stylishly staged, as I wrote in the June 2 City Paper—the kind of show “that’ll have you admiring the play of light and shadow even as one character beats another senseless.” Closing this weekend; Pay-What matinee Saturday at 2, and as always people who live nearby (including at Gallaudet) can see any performance free.
  • The Children’s Hour, Washington Shakespeare Company. Lee Gable directs Lillian Hellman’s classic tragic-lesbians melodrama, with a classically WSC twist: company artistic director Christopher Henley in the Shirley MacLaine role. Bob Mondello sez it’s “hugely effective Southern Gothic melodrama, with a killer of a last scene, and Gable makes sure that every lick of its pain singes the crowd out front.” Pay-What performance each Saturday at 2 p.m through July 2. At Clark Street Playhouse, 601 South Clark Street in Crystal City.
  • Two-Headed, Washington Shakespeare Company. Mormons! Massacres! Two women “coming to terms with the intense nature of their relationship!” Gregg Henry directs a new play from Julie Jensen, starring Melissa Flaim and Lee Mikeska Gardner. Critics see it Sunday. Pay-What performance Monday at 8 p.m. At Clark Street Playhouse, 601 S. Clark Street in Crystal City.
  • Picasso’s Closet, Theater J. Ariel Dorfman, one of theater’s real heavies, brings the world premiere of his latest play, a fractured meditation on Picasso in occupied Paris; the gambit is that though the painter lived until 1973, life among the Nazis killed his soul. Critics see it next week. Pay-What previews next Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

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