A few years ago, well maybe longer than that, I was the stage manager for QCT’s production of Annie. The tradition back then was that the stage manager was responsible for preparing a block on the back stage wall so that everyone involved in the show could sign it. Even if I do say so myself, I did a masterful job of duplicating the copyrighted image of Annie…… Well, except for two things. One, I used a lead pencil. Growing up the nuns never told me that unlike original sin, pencil markings are not forever. The second thing is that I used the wrong spelling of Theatre. I spelled it Quincy Community Theater, not Quincy Community Theatre. Let me say that there was no shortage of volunteers willing to tell me that I had misspelled the word.
So after that, I took every opportunity to learn to spell theatre the correct way. As an example: May I remind you that Quincy Community Theatre’s Season Tickets are now on sale for our 2015 Season! We are excited about “Soaring to New Heights.” Before we take off, please guarantee your seats now for Spamalot, Mama Won’t Fly, Mary Poppins (yes, Mary Poppins), Lend Me a Tenor, and The Winter Wonderettes. We will also be producing the student theatre shows: Honk, Jr.; Stellaluna, and Treasure Island. And Quincy Community Theatre will be co-producing The Nutcracker featuring Cheryl Kaiser’s Dance students.
Anyway, back to me:
I have to admit that two spellings of Theatre/Theater has caused me the occasional finger jam on the keyboard. Although not to the scale of Dan Quayle’s “potato-potatoe” non-incident, “Theater-Theatre” remained a quandary. Even my 2007 version of “spell check” allows for both. To settle this once and for all I went to Grammarist.com, (and by the way, my new favorite word to use to describe myself is “learner”). The article stated “The main thing that most English speakers and learners need to know is that theater is the preferred spelling in American English, and theatre is preferred virtually everywhere else. Some Americans do make distinctions—for instance, that a theater is a venue while theatre is an art form.”
I’d like to think that Quincy Community Theatre blends those distinctions. We speak American English. We create art and we are THE venue to experience performing arts!
In response to that Grammarist.com article, a John R. blogged, “Theatre (with an re ) in American English is just plain pretentius.” ….. to wit blogger Alonious replied “pretentious”.