“What’s in a name?” The question, asked by Juliet Capulet in an attempt to persuade herself that it’s alright to have fallen for a rival Montague, is among Shakespeare’s most famous lines.
Her contention, that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, has become a go-to quote to caution against judgement by name alone – Shakespeare’s version of not judging a book by its cover.
In the arts, as in any endeavour that requires commitment from others – whether that means buying a ticket, agreeing to pay a grant or joining a participatory project – names are important, and both writers and companies agonise over names.
There are famous instances of plays, films and books changing their names to try and bring in more audiences or sell more copies.
The working title for Pretty Woman was 3,000, after the amount that Vivian was paid for a week with Edward.
Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof was initially called A Place Of Stone.
The publisher of George Orwell’s futuristic dystopian classic rejected its first title – The Last Man In Europe – in favour of 1984, while Joseph Heller’s wartime satire was first set to be called Catch 18, then Catch 11, before the editor finally settled on Catch-22.
It is hard to imagine any of those works entering the public consciousness to such a degree under their original titles.
Last week, local arts organisation Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (GLYPT) went through its own name change.
Having evolved from GYPT – the borough based organisation launched by Greenwich Theatre director Ewan Hooper in 1971 – to GLYPT in 2003 with an expansion into Lewisham, the company had reached a stage where its name had moved from a useful summary to a hindrance.
If GLYPT are hosting a comedy night, does that mean the comics are young people? Or the audience? Or is comedy just one of the things that the company uses its home venue for? Where does a music night fit into a theatre company’s programming mix? And do they only work in Greenwich and/ or Lewisham?
As a result, the company has now been renamed and rebranded as Tramshed, acknowledging the significance of their home venue in Woolwich but opening up their identity to working with and for a range of audiences and participants across the UK and beyond.
At a launch event last week, Jeremy James, artistic director and CEO of Tramshed, said: “It became clear that we had outgrown GLYPT.
We needed a name that captured the many strands of our work, and the idea that we are of and for the whole community.
I am thrilled that, as we embark on the next 50 years, we do so as Tramshed.”