A Title by Any
by Marsh Cassady
Millers original title for Death of a
Salesman was The Inside of His Head.
What if other playwrights throughout the ages
also started with different titles which they
then developed into the plays?
what if Tennessee Williams started writing The
Plastic Menagerie. The way the plot
develops is that Tom, Laura and the Gentleman
Caller open a plastics factory that makes
unicorns whose horns wont break. After
a number of setbacks, they retire rich, fat and
happy. Wheres the conflict?
Its in trying to find something strong
enough to break the damned hornssledgehammers,
karate chops, dynamite.
Or speaking of
Arthur Miller, what if he got an idea for a play
called All My Suns, But only a Few of my
Moons? It starts out with a bunch of
women being accused of witchcraft by a guy named
McCarthy. But they escape, read a lot of Jules
Verne, and build their own spaceship.
Think of the
musical: Beauty and the Beast. What if
the original title had been Beauty and the
Feast? The ideas is that this beautiful
princess orders enormous feasts to be held every
day at the castle and soon becomes a fat slob.
That is, until she meets the Man from Weight
Watchers (TMFWW). They fall in love. She
tries to lose those extra pounds but cant.
The problem is solved when TMFWW gives up his
diet and becomes a blimp like the princess.
theres Gershwins Porky and Bess. If
Edward Albee can have a Broadway success about a
man who falls in love with a goat, why not? After
all, pigs are our closest relatives genetically.
imagine what would have happened had the Bard of
Avon not changed the title to Romeo and
Juliet instead of Romeo and Julio? Nope,
the world wasnt ready for that sort of
story back then. And speaking of that type of
plot, what about Mamets title Glen,
Gary, Glenn and Ross: The Aftermath of an Orgy?
One of my
favorite almost titles is Synges Plowboy
of the Western World about a compulsive
farmer: wheat, corn, dairy, beef...his
grandsons ant farm.
should examine all this in a different light.
Arent writers always searching for ideas?
If theyre stuck at their computers some
time with sending off-color e-mails instead of
working, they could try to think of play titles,
e.g., Chekovs The Three Sisters.
Next they could change the title just a bit to...well,
say The Three Blisters, a tale of a man
with herpes who desperately wants to be loved.
Yet every time he finds a woman he likes, these
three blisters break out on his lips. What
does he do? How does he solve the problem?
This, dear writer, is up to you.