The original attraction of picking a number for a name was that it left a lot of room to maneuver. Any play could be a theatre no. 6 play, because a number is theoretically neutral. It keeps expectations wide open.
Of course, in the end, we did settle on a mandate. It works for us for the time being and we think it’s important enough to keep us going for years to come. And audiences are slowly coming to expect a certain kind of show from us. But our number does allow us to change direction someday, should we ever decide to do so.
Still, numbers are only theoretically neutral. They convey ideas about quantity, sequence, ranking, among other things. So why “6” instead of, say, “491”?
For one, the number six was chosen because it was short, so it would be easy to remember. But more importantly, unlike lucky seven, magic three, or crazy eight, six was also just a bit off the beaten track. So while we liked the freedom the number gave us, sending a subtle message that we were a little different was still important to us.
If you consider that humans may originally have counted in fives – using the fingers on one hand – the number six carries the idea of pushing beyond boundaries. To get from five to six, you need another hand. Or a toe. Or a rock. Or, if you stay with the same hand, you have to make a fist again – erase your count, as it were – and start all over again. In each case, a leap from the known to something new is required. In the same way, we’re interested in presenting theatre that invites an audience to consider ideas they may not have considered before.
It’s only a coincidence that theatre no. 6‘s inaugural show was originally slated sixth in 2008-2009 Indie5 season. And we consider it an added value that we share our number with iconoclast hero of The Prisoner fame. After all, we too are all about human beings. The clincher was the sound of six when spoken aloud. As an utterance, stripped of its everyday meaning, the slightly sinister sibilance of six is just a tad unsettling. So, too, is a lot of good art.