Theater -er vs -re

Photo Credit: Joseph Yates

Photo Credit: Joseph Yates

When I went to BroadwayCon I posted on my Instagram story that everyone at BroadwayCon spells theater with an -re. They do. We do. I did.


Spelling theater with an -re meant that I belonged. That I had a tribe (like in Hair!) of people who had spent high school and college in rehearsal rooms. Who had gone to drama camp (Stagedoor? Please. French Woods all the way). And who still perform AH.MAZ.ING renditions of songs in their cars. And when we tweeted, posted, or wore a shirt with it spelled the British way, we were flashing our tribal tattoos. (Again, like in Hair, but without the nudity.)

Pretentious? Moi?

I also used to love spelling the word "theatre" like the Brits do because it is a sign that I had studied Shakespeare. That I knew that the quality of mercy is not strained. It means that I understand all of the thirty year old jokes in Six Degrees of Separation because I do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink and clearly they are referencing The Fantasticks.

In a world that often regards actors as self-absorbed and artists in general as flighty, there is something to be said for throwing a little highbrow weight around. To letting whomever will listen to you in on the fact that you know what both the objective case and iambic pentameter are.

And yet, the -er

A few months back, the contributors at debated what the spelling should be. Which prompted my -er vs -re soul searching.

 Now, I unwaveringly say that I prefer my theater with an -er. 

Spelling theater with an -er is American and, by extension, represents the work that American theater professionals do. And that deserves something. It deserves its own identity in the same way that Broadway has a different identity than the West End.

And, frankly, in a world of hashtags, it's kind of a pain to have to do this all the time: #theater #theatre 

How do you spell it?

So on this blog and in another other work that I do, I will be spelling theater with an -er.

That is, until I go to BroadwayCon again.

Tweet me your spelling and why. @annieschiff