Naked Women

Made you look.

But why, you ask, what gives? Why would a blog of such soaring standards title a post “Naked Women” with no intention of delivering the goods?

I’ll explain.

A few weeks ago I reviewed “Naked Women Fully Clothed” by Women’s Theatre Project in Ft. Lauderdale, and ever since, searches for “naked women” have been landing people at my blog.

Now, while I’m well aware that the Internet is not only home to the theatrosphere, but also the pornosphere, I’m honestly over the searches bringing horny dudes and, perhaps, also some dudettes (see that, gender balance ūüôā ) to my blog,¬†where you will find the naked truth about the theatre, as I see it, but, sorry, no T & A. ¬†The same idea of ‘naked’ or unadorned frankness lay at the heart of WTP’s production, hence the title. ¬†But as I mention in my review, I questioned if the production was as titillating and punny as its title.

So all this has gotten me thinking about PLAY TITLEs, what their job is and how much weight they carry.

They can frame our expectations before we read or watch a given play.  They can add complexity and coherence, or they can undermine and mislead.  And sometimes they can appear arbitrary, seem to simply exist.

Titles can be eponymous (Hamlet, Saint Joan, Salome, etc.), allusive (Hamlet Machine),¬†literal (Comedy of Errors, Death of a Salesman, Waiting for Godot, The Clean House), metaphoric/symbolic (Machinal, Death of a Salesman, Waiting for Godot), thematic (The Invention of Love), ironic (The Importance of Being Earnest, The Clean House). And you could go on from these broader categories and get even more specific in characterizing titles: cheeky, provocative, punny, gimmicky, etc. ¬†By the few examples I’ve included and some purposely duplicated, I’m obviously also recognizing that many titles carry more than one meaning and/or purpose.¬†etc.

Thoughts? Care to share titles you have found particularly strong? surprising? unsuccessful? misleading?

Are there any trends you see in how plays are titled these days?

4 Responses to “Naked Women”
  1. Erika Robuck says:

    I’ve always been partial to A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s such an evocative title, and sets the mood and themes for the play. The ghetto where Stanley and Stella live, Elysian Fields, is obviously used metaphorically. (It struck me so much that I named my publishing company after it.) Williams’ command over language through his titles and names reveal much about his plays.

  2. nstodard says:

    Ah, yes,Williams, don’t know how I could have forgotten to include “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in my lists of categories and titles…talk about a metaphor…can’t think of the title or the play without thinking of Liz Taylor’s performance in the film version. Hisssss

  3. One of my favorites is Shepard’s “Buried Child.” The title operates on myriad levels, from the textual to the religiously metaphoric. Similar to this is Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter.”

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] In this NYT article, “Come on Santa, Put Your Clothes Back On,” Neil Genzlinger surveys the surplus of holiday-themed plays currently running in New York City and reminds us that plays with sexy titles rarely deliver in content, a subject I’ve reflected on recently¬†here. […]

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