In the ever-evolving landscape of language (and theatre), the community finds itself in search of a term that encapsulates the diverse roles individuals play within this vibrant industry. While ‘creative’ and ‘artist’ are broad strokes that encompass various disciplines, there exists a more specialized term that beautifully captures the essence of those immersed in the multifaceted tapestry of theatre—the theatrist.
Defined as someone involved in multiple aspects of theatre and live performance, the term ‘theatrist’ is not a recent coinage. Its roots trace back to the 1880s, with the Oxford English Dictionary acknowledging its usage as early as 1889.
A letter from E. Downson wrote, “Last night – what a theatrist I am becoming – I went to Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Then, in 1905, the Saturday Review published an article that explained, “Mr Wilde was a born dramatist – a born theatrist too.”
Nearly a century later, India’s Education Times published a piece titled “Be A Theatrist” encouraging high school students to study the arts, and soon after a blog called “Theatrist” began sharing reviews and articles on the Tumblr platform.
As language has the power to shape perceptions, it’s time we reclaim and rejuvenate this word, acknowledging its historical usage and contemporary relevance.
In the theatre, individuals don’t merely adhere to singular roles; they are playwrights, producers, actors, and more. They navigate the realms of theory and practice, embodying a profound understanding of theatrical matters. Theatrists are lovers and frequenters of the theatre, craftspeople whose expertise span various dimensions of the craft.
The term ‘theatrist’ is not just a label; it’s a celebration of the diverse skills and knowledge that theatre specialists and experts possess. From playwrights to backstage technicians, from actors to directors, each contributor plays a vital role in the grand production of theatre. Embracing the title of theatrist signifies a commitment to the comprehensive understanding of the art form, combining academic insight with practical expertise.
So, let’s revive the term ‘theatrist’ and celebrate the individuals who contribute to the magic of theatre, transcending singular labels and embracing the rich tapestry of roles that define this captivating world. In doing so, we honour the legacy of those who have come before us and pave the way for a new generation of theatrists to shape the future of this dynamic and ever-evolving art form.