Oy. Am I the only one who thinks insisting on "theatre" to describe what happens on a stage is like capitalizing the A in "art"?
Isaac over at Parabasis reports that a Lincoln Center Director's Lab listserv is ablaze with earnest discussion on the hoary question of "Theater" vs. "Theatre."
I've heard any number of arguments about this, but none of them have much in the way of content. They all seem to boil down to the notion that the stage is a higher art, and thus needs distinguishing.
We don't feel the need to be posh about rumours. Or about harbours, unless we're real estate developers trying to add a little snob appeal. (Hmmm... Snob appeal? Could that be it? Nah....) And we don't speak of glamour, even in "the theatre."
City Paper's Dave Nuttycombe did the homework a couple of years back, talking to everyone from then-TCG boss Ben Cameron (who advanced the "Technically, '-er' means the building and '-re' means the process" argument) to the senior editor of U.S. dictionaries for the Oxford University Press -- who responded that Cameron's position was "a distinction in search of a difference: People love to try to find logic behind word choices that are usually not logical at all."
In the article's 1544 words, though, the best quote was from Theater of the First Amendment's Kevin Murray: "It's kinda like the 'e' on the end of 'Olde Town.' Some people think it adds class ...."