Wednesday, June 13, 2007

theater vs. theatre

Please weigh in, theater fans. Which should it be?
Bobo's own opinion? In American usage, "-re" looks pretentious. It's a reminder of the silly and unfounded assumption that American culture is always and forever inferior to British culture, as if only Brits can do Shakespeare and we're mere rubes. (Don't get Bobo wrong — we Yanks have much to learn from British (and many other cultures), as in how not to start senseless wars. But that way madness lies ...)
Anyway, I do my share of copyediting here at The Inlander, and it irks me every time I have to adjust to -re. AP style says that it's -er in America, unless it's already -re in the official name of the organization, as it is (to take just one example) in the name of Spokane Civic Theatre.
Often, when I see -re (on any theater's name), I think of "Ye Olde English Ice Cream Shoppe" or some other such false and puffed-up etymology.
And don't even get me started on ARt's official name -- this is a shout-out to you, Grant Smith -- as if a Repertory could consist of a single actor, who then possesses that Rep in the name Artist's Repertory Theatre of the Inland Northwest which is just so wrong in so many ways, and not just in that it is a mouthful. #:-) a Repertory cannot belong to just one Actor ... especially in a Theatre, -re.


At June 13, 2007 3:29 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

American Theatre magazine is, of course, thus.
I've heard some argument that true theatRE people know that it should be spelled -RE, but I don't know the reasoning behind that claim. Can anybody enlighten me?

At June 22, 2007 12:48 PM , Blogger Janean said...

In Los Angeles, I was used to hearing about "theater." Moving to Spokane and starting to volunteer at Civic, I got used to "theatre." The explanation I keep hearing is that "theater" is for a movie house, "theatre" is for the stage. I'm just glad I work in radio so I don't have to bother ;-)


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