Saturday, 27 March 2010 - What's in a name?

Back in the mists of time, or 1995 as it was known then, About Face Theatre Company was formed. This of course is the About Face based in Leominster, in the UK, set up as part of Echo to give adults with learning disabilities an opportunity to take part in drama and theatre. When the idea of the activity was conceived the name began as a working title thought up by Fiona Ritchie, Echo's chief officer, with thoughts of appearances and assumptions or preconceptions pertaining to the world of disability in mind. The title stuck. It seemed to fit the brief well and so the company was born.

The internet was a relatively small thing then with more people talking about it than actually using it. Many ignored it altogether seeing it as a student tool for geeks or an irrelevance. It had its limitations. Images and other page content were constricted by the slow speed of the technology at the time and the idea of the vast online catalogues that exist now was a distant fantasy, never mind the streaming video and audio that we take for granted today. Because there was less interest there was less competition when it came to names and finding the URL to fit your company. Even so it was becoming clear that this would change and different domain name suffixes were added to the roster of names to increase choice and application.

As anyone who has punched a name into a search engine now will know, the chance of finding a unique name these days is slim. All around the world names are duplicated by companies but most live in blissful ignorance of each other. The internet changes that. Now the names collect together in searches and one can see at a glance many other sites and companies with similar names. Some of these (a lot actually) are dormant names, purchased by domain name squatters who hope to sell them on or attract hits to pay-as-you-click portal sites. Others are legitimate and it is always interesting to see who they are.

When we got round to the idea of a company website (back in 2006) the name became an issue. We had heard through the grapevine some time before that there was a theatre company in Chicago called About Face so it was no surprise to see that they had nabbed the .com suffix for aboutfacetheatre. About Face on its own was not possible. Too much competition from sites about faces but a little more surprising was that there was another theatre company, in New York, using the .org ending. Both and .net were taken by what appear to be squatters and our other choice had been taken by a recently formed dance company in London. We contacted them to say that we existed and that due to us being around a bit longer than them they might like to know who we were in case there was any confusion. They were a little defensive - maybe they thought we were trying to muscle in on the name. We weren't and we settled on which also captured in the URL the charitable status of the company as it exists within Echo.

The dance company doesn't appear to exist, at least on the net, any more but keep looking and you will find there is an About Face Theatre in Ireland, founded in 2002 - relative newcomers. What are the odds of four theatre companies choosing the same name? Any statisticians in the house do stand up and let us know (we don't do maths, we're theatre, darlings!). Maybe it isn't surprising really, the theatre long having as it's symbol the masks with opposing expressions, and the idea of actors having the ability to present different faces to an audience.

We may have got the domain name in 2006 but the site has been very limited in scope since then. As we finally unveil our newly created pages in the rebuilt site it is interesting to reflect on the name and send greetings to our namesakes around the world. Maintaining a theatre company at any level for a length of time is not an easy thing and it is heartening to see others managing to keep going under the same banner. In the meantime we hope you enjoy the new site and come back soon to find out more about our About Face Theatre Company.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Face Theatre Co
is part of
for Extra Choices
in Herefordshire
Registered charity 1096449
Company no. 4475254

Welcome to About Face Talk - our News and Blog page

About Face Theatre Company

Blog Archive