by Lindsay Joy · July 17, 2014
What is in a name? A lot. Too much. An annoying amount of importance.
Fun fact: I’m terrible at naming my plays. I have good friends that still make fun of Cyberqueen, like a lot. I could be ordering cheesecake, and my friend will casually ask, “Don’t you mean The Rise and Fall of a Teenaged Cheesecake?”. Even shorter titles fall short. I had a piece in the Triptych Zurich, New York called Repast and no one really knew that a Repast meant the gathering after the funeral. The title ended up just seeming random.
I feel like as soon as I had enough steam to finish a play, my ability to name them fizzed away. I call all of my pieces Untitled until I absolutely have to give them a name. After that, typically, the name will change again and again with every new draft. I sometimes cannot even find a fucking script in my computer because I’ve forgotten what I started calling the piece.
I would say that a name doesn’t matter, but it does. A good name sparks great promotion. A good name will stick in your head, and provoke thought before you even step inside the theatre. I’ve messed up before, and taped up countless posters that I thought were terrible for a show that I was proud of. I could get all pissy about it, but the truth is: it was my fault for having a shitty title.
For this play, I’ve had countless brainstorming sessions trying to boil down the essence of the play into something clever and catchy. My lists would make you howl with laughter. I cannot even bring myself to share them. I randomly text Padraic or my boyfriend with a new title, and I watch the ellipse on my iPhone denoting a response coming. And then, nothing for a bit. They are all bad titles. How do I sell a bittersweet play about suicide? How do I avoid making it seem like a twenty-something party play?
I sat at the dress rehearsal for Between Riverside and Crazy this past week, and had that magical feeling right before the play started. Amazing set, amazing cast, amazing writer and a title that had me full of anticipation. Exactly what you want in a title, right?
So, kids…help me. Please. If I name my play something shitty, you must tell me. If you have a moment of inspiration for a play surrounding the friends of a suicide victim. It’s funny. It’s dark. And it’s untitled.