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What’s in a name?

When you first glance at the name Hamnet, you are met with a combination of familiarity and confusion. Perhaps it’s a typo? Living in the shadow of one of the greatest characters ever written, history struggles to bestow Hamnet—William Shakespeare’s only son—a separate identity, one distanced from the legacy of his father’s writing. In Dead Centre’s Hamnet (SEP 20 – OCT 7), this child finally has the space and time to define himself and own his name.

Names are important; we attach an entire identity to just a handful of syllables. Some names come from a long legacy of family tradition, others just because it sounded nice. In the spirit of opening our 2018/19 Season around a show that thoroughly unpacks one name, we asked the Emerson College community about their own names, from origins stories to typos and even a few TV references. 

What is your name? Emma

What does your name mean? I believe in German it means “universal”

Any funny stories about your name? I have a twin sister named Cameron and we had one teacher in elementary school who would call me Cemma and her Emeron—accidentally.

What is your name? Allison

What is the origin story of your name? My middle name was chosen in memory of Allison Krause, a victim of the Kent State shootings in 1970. Allison was a student at Kent State and attended the protests against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. A day before her death, Allison said “flowers are better than bullets”.

What is your name? Sara Joy Brookner

What is the origin story of your name? My first name is in honor of 2 great-grandmothers, one on each side. Joy is for my great-great uncle Joseph. My last name is a combination of my maiden name (Bookin-Weiner) and my husband’s (Brown). We are both Brookner now!

What does your name mean? Sara means “princess” in Hebrew, and my Hebrew middle name Yael means “mountain goat.” So I’m Princess Mountain Goat!

What is your name? Orlando Haralambos Economos

What does your name mean? Orlando means lord of the land, or famous throughout the land; Haralambos means happy light; Economos means steward of the church.

Any funny stories about your name? Apparently my grandfather was named Orlando because my great great uncle had lived in the US and had been to Orlando, FL, and thought it was a cool name.

What is your name? Lelaina Vogel

What is the origin story of your name? It’s from the 1994 movie Reality Bites starring Winona Ryder as Lelaina Pierce

Is your name ever misspelled? If so, how? Constantly. On my work email domain, I own the aliases for Lelania, Lelayna, Lilayna, Lelainia, Alayna, Alaina, Liliana, and more. I went by my nickname Lanie for years and years because I thought it was too hard for anyone to learn to pronounce Lelaina. Then, halfway through college, I realized that I was putting other people’s ease before my own desire to go by my full name, so I decided to just own it.



What is your name? Shauwna. And I have a middle initial, rather than a middle name, which is H.

What is the origin of your name? My middle initial, H., stands for Herminia, which was my paternal great-great grandmother’s name. My mom and my dad each picked one of the kids to carry a middle name that was meaningful to them, but they hated the actual names, so legally my brother and I both have initials.

Is your name ever misspelled? If so, how? I have spent my entire life having my name misspelled, by both strangers and people who have known me forever, and sometimes even by myself! I feel like people with uncommon names can go one of two ways: becoming super picky about how their name is spelled and put-out when anyone gets it wrong, or being super-chill about it and knowing people who make that mistake don’t mean anything by it. I’m of the later category; when people mess up my name, even people I’ve known for years, I’ve never once been angry about it.

What is your name? V

What is the origin story of your name? I picked it myself! It was the first letter of my old name, and I wanted to honor what my parents had originally chosen for me.

What is your name? Ross

What is the origin story of your name? Friends. I’m named after Ross Geller.

What is your name? Destini

What is the origin story of your name? My mother thought she couldn’t have kids anymore. So when she found out she was pregnant, she thought it was her destiny to have me. Why my last name has an I at the end? My mom just wanted to be different.

What is your name? Blair

Is your name ever misspelled? If so, how? I constantly am being mistaken for Claire, Clara, Blake, and Blaire with an added “e” at the end is my alter ego.

Any funny stories about your name? I’ve never seen The Blair Witch Project or Gossip Girl, but both references have served as excellent taglines when introducing myself to new people.


Be sure to catch Hamnet from Dublin’s Dead Centre at the Emerson Paramount Center SEP 20 – OCT 7 and let us know about your name in the comments below!

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