Last year we removed “Theatre” from the festival name. Before the festival was over we were already preparing to put the word “Theatre” back in. Why does it matter?
The idea of removing “theatre” from our name initially began when we started to talking to councils beyond Brisbane who thought the festival would have broader appeal if the “t” word was removed. After all, the festival is about all kinds of performance – not just theatre – and it is all about using any space but a theatre. We discussed the idea with the board who also endorsed the move for the same reason: it felt like it should broaden our appeal and seemed less elitist.
We belatedly realised that this misses the point.
By removing “Theatre” it becomes “Anywhere Festival” and we are not about a festival anywhere. We are about creating and enabling theatre anywhere, whatever form that theatre takes as a performance.
We also reflected that theatre is a word that shouldn’t carry baggage and that was one of the reasons why we keep the word in our title from the very beginning; we want to show that theatre isn’t just about performances in theatre. It is about threaticality and this should be embraced as something that is part of what we do and not something to be hidden.
In many ways we see a parallel with the Woodford Folk Festival. Yes, it’s is affectionately known as “Woodford” as we are known as “Anywhere” but that middle word gives the festival its soul.
Not everything that happens at Woodford is “Folk”. There is circus, talks, rock music, comedy, massive site specific performances, explosions, theatre as well as folk.
At Anywhere there are immersive installations, opera, music, ballet, dance, poetry, magic, workshops, art and of course theatre. Anywhere is where it is at but Theatre is the soul of what we do, and that is why we are called “Anywhere Theatre Festival”.
It’s a good reminder that change can be good, but make sure you always stay true to your core values because sometimes one word can make all the difference.
Image: The Gremlins by Bent Schematic at 2016 Anywhere Theatre Festival. Image by Bruce Heath (Slideshow Photography)