So The Stratford Festival is apparently changing its name. Not a lot, just a word. Five years ago, they added “Shakespeare” to their title (the Stratford Shakespeare Company) and now they’re taking it out. Is it bad of me that I had no idea that the first change happened? It’s always been The Stratford Festival to me. I also just noticed another local theatre name change at a recent conference – Young People’s Theatre is now back to its original after a pretty awful name change, which was made for money. I hope so, otherwise it’s a horrible change for no reason! YPT had always been an iconic name for as long as I can remember, since I was a kid. It described exactly what the theatre was about and who the shows were for: Young. People’s. Theatre. A few years ago it changed it’s name to the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, which is quite the mouthful. And frankly, cold. And was often shorted to an acronym that sounded like “licktip” which I’m sure didn’t sit well with the company.
I’m always interested in where names come from. Why do companies choose a particular name and also why they might feel the need to change that name. Names are important. It’s the part of your company that’s going to be said the most. It’s going to be on all your marketing material. If you’re going to change that name it better be for a good reason, if for no other reason that every piece of paper, every piece of marketing, every t-shirt and poster is going to have to be changed.
We chose the name Theatrefolk when we were a producing company. We wanted something that said exactly what we do – (theatre) and an indication of how we see theatre – we are indeed theatre folk, we are proud to be part of that group, and furthermore – we’re pretty casual. We’re folk. We’re folksy. We chose the name in 1994 and it’s never grown old for me. Even when we transfered from producers to publishers it still fit. It’s sometimes hard to understand over the phone, (we often have to repeat it and sometimes get mail to Peter Falk) but I’ve never regretted the choice. It’s who we are.
If you were going to create a theatre company, what would you call it? What would be the inspiration for the name? How does the name say who you are, and what type of theatre you make?