What’s in a name?

“’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague….
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet….”

Juliet was saying that a family name, or a group identity, is less important than the qualities of an individual. However, in Juliet’s speech and the rest of the famous “balcony scene,” Shakespeare reveals both Romeo and Juliet to be naïve and blinded by love. In fact, names mean a lot, as the young lovers would soon learn.

What does the name “Shakespeare” mean to you? His name gets used like a “brand” to mean someone who’s good with words, the way someone who’s smart in science gets called “Einstein.”

I’ve loved Shakespeare since I was a little girl. I grew up in Atlanta, and my dad used to take me to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival every summer, where we’d see three different Shakespeare plays in two days. Because I was young, and often didn’t understand everything that was being said by the adults around me, it didn’t bother me that I didn’t understand everything that was being said on the stage. When his stories were being performed by actors who knew what they were doing, his fancy words were a bonus, not a barrier.  

Does Shakespeare have anything to say to us today in Waco? Some friends and I think so. I’m a theatre director and, since I moved to Waco nearly three years ago, I’ve gotten to know many people in the theatre community. Two in particular, Stefanie Wheat-Johnson and Trent Sutton, have similar interests and aspirations to mine, and we decided to collaborate on three “Shakespeare Studio” productions. These will bring together the best scenes, speeches, and sonnets from Shakespeare’s work around a particular theme. Our first, Love and War, will be performed July 16-18, and will feature a dozen talented actors ranging from high school students to community theatre regulars to professional actors. Our second Shakespeare Studio production will be Music, Magic…and Murder at Halloween, followed by Law and Order in the spring. Then…a full-length Shakespeare-in-the-Park production next summer!

Our arts organization is called “InSite.” What does that name mean? It’s a play on the word “insight,” which we believe happens when we thoughtfully engage with the arts. It’s also a play on the word “site,” or location. Since we don’t have a theatre building, we’ll be doing the plays “in sites” around Waco. Love and War will be presented at Brotherwell Tap Room in East Waco, which is much more like the places where Shakespeare’s plays would have originally been presented than the dark, quiet theatres of today.

Our name also refers to the fact that InSite is a “creative placemaking” initiative. The practice of creative placemaking is based in the belief that the arts and creativity are necessary to the identity and thriving of a community. When we gather around stories, events, and works of art that are meaningful to us, we help make Waco a great place to live, work, and visit!

In addition to Shakespeare, we have more fun and interesting performances planned! Learn more about InSite and the Shakespeare Studios, buy tickets, and join our email list at www.insitewaco.com; and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


Luann Purcell Jennings (writer), Trent Sutton, and Stefanie Wheat-Johnson have, among them, more than 50 years of experience in directing, teaching, community building, Christian ministry, organizational startup, and more. They are creative, motivated, and determined to see Waco impacted by the ways that art can transform this beautiful city.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

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1 Comment

  1. Glenda Strum on June 20, 2019 at 7:14 am

    What a wonderful article! So glad you chose WACO as your home!!!
    Glenda Strum

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