Friday, July 3, 2009

What's in a theatre name?

One of the byproducts of becoming a theatre fan is that I've developed a keen interest in - you might even say a fascination with - the names of theatre companies. The quirkier and funnier the better. I especially love references to forgotten places or obscure literary characters.

So whenever I come across a name that I like, I think about assembling a list and blogging about them. Then, I forget about it. But the Fourth of July weekend is here, theatre news is light and the blogging is easy.

Now, I haven't gone searching for these - I've just come across them in everyday Google-ing or reading up on theatre-related news. I'm sure there are others I've come across and forgotten about. But these are some of my favorites:

Tricycle: Based in London, I first heard of this theatre as a producer of The 39 Steps. It just seems so fitting that a very funny Hitchcock homage would be connected with a word that also makes me smile. Tricycle "aims to be a successful and accessible theatre, cinema and art gallery providing an artistic programme of the highest quality that attracts and reflects the culturally diverse local community."

Menier Chocolate Factory: The idea of seeing a show in a converted London chocolate factory circa 1870 sounds incredibly scrumptious. I wonder if they sell Menier chocolate at the concession stand? If they don't, they should! And from the description, the building sounds awesome - it still has its original exposed wooden beams, cast-iron columns and brick interior.

Single Carrot: This one's in Baltimore and I found it on the blogroll of Katie Ganem, who writes Theatreisms. The name comes from something the French painter Paul Cezanne once said: "The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution." I'm not sure what he meant, but I like it. Single Carrot's goal is to "infuse theatre with new life while entertaining and educating our community with socially significant productions."

Hypocrites: Most people would not take being called a hypocrite as a compliment so I thought it was interesting that this Chicago theatre company would take the word as its name. Their mission is to "make a Theater of Honesty," which actually seems the opposite of hypocrisy. I'm really looking forward to seeing the Hypocrites' acclaimed production of Our Town in New York next month.

Remy Bumppo: Chicago has a lot of great theatre names. Steppenwolf, of course, I knew because I've read the novel. But this one escaped me. Turns out, it comes from two of the founders' pets: a dog named Natty Bumppo (from The Last of the Mohicans) and a cat named Remy, (after Remy Martin cognac.) The company "strives to delight and engage audiences with the emotional and ethical complexities of society through the provocative power of great theatrical language."

Pig Iron: This Philadelphia-based theatre company is "dedicated to the creation of new and exuberant performance works that defy easy categorization" using dance, drama, clowning, puppetry, music and text. I don't know where the name comes from, maybe the state's steelmaking heritage? I first heard of Pig Iron last fall when I read about one of its productions, the bizarrely titled Chekhov Lizardbrain. Just from the name alone, I wish I'd been able to see it.


Bob said...

I love this blog post! Interesting: my word verification to post this comment is "subotsi" another new theatre name?

Esther said...

Awww, thanks Bob! I think subotsi would be a great theatre name.

Monica said...

Very interesting post. There are a lot of interesting theater company names in Chicago. The Hypocrites and Remy Bumppo are very good, but there are so many. For example: Hell in a Handbag Productions.

Esther said...

I like Hell in a Handbag! That's where we're all going eventually, right?

Kathy Garmus said...

Interesting post, Esther. I love cute names, like Gratuitous Violins!