Theatre Quotes

Words to the Wise
Quotations from a wide range of theatrical perspectives

For use in newsletters, season or fundraising brochures or emails, presentations--you name it.

Displaying 181 - 240 of 404. Show 5 | 10 | 20 | 40 | 60 results per page.
Category Quote First Last Source
General, Management

I've never quite understood the idea of a "season." Whenever an artistic director says to me, 'I have this slot,' I always start to feel we're parking cars or something.

David Henry Hwang The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Playwriting

Before I write down one word, I have to have the character in my mind through and through. I must penetrate into the last wrinkle of his soul.

Henrik Ibsen http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/playwriting_quotes.html
General

Theater is, of course, a reflection of life. Maybe we have to improve life before we can hope to improve theater.

William Inge Saturday Review 22 Feb 64
Playwriting

I started writing for the theatre because I hated it.

Eugene Ionesco The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting

You think, you don't just speak. The lines come off the thoughts.

Jeremy Irons American Film magazine
Playwriting

I've taught both screenwriting and playwriting, and playwriting is both much harder and much more rewarding. One can teach people how to tell a story in cinematic ways, but theater is a much more elusive craft.

David Ives http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_ives.html
Playwriting

Writing a play, you start with less, so more is demanded of you. It's as if you have to not only write a symphony, but invent the instruments as well.

David Ives http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_ives.html
Acting

You'd think is something one would grow out of. But you grow into it. The more you do, the more you realize how painfully easy it is to be lousy and how very difficult to be good.

Glenda Jackson People, March 1985
Acting

Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.

Glenda Jackson
Fundraising

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

William James http://www.museummarketingtips.com/quotes/giving.html
Acting, Directing

The virtue of dress rehearsals is that they are a free show for a select group of artists and friends of the author, and where for one unique evening the audience is almost expurgated of idiots.

Alfred Jarry http://izquotes.com/
Directing

One of the issues peculiar to community theater is dealing with inexperienced or outright bad actors who are so unimaginative, so lacking in energy, that no matter what devices you use, you just don't seem to be helping them that much. They will improve. It is your rseponsibility that the actor should ever feel that he or she has failed.

Ann Jellicoe Stage Directions Guide to Directing
General

The truth is that the spectators are always in their senses, and know, from the first act to the last, that the stage is only a stage, and that the players are only players.

Samuel Johnson The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting

The appearance and retirement of actors are the great events of the theatrical world; and their first performances fill the pit with conjecture and prognostication, as the first actions of a new monarch agitate nations with hope and fear.

Samuel Johnson

http://en.thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/theatrical/

Set Design

I want everyone to feel as much as possible as if they inhabit the same space. They more fluid the relationship between actor and audience, the better.

Christine Jones http://www.amrep.org/articles/5_2b/creating.html
Set Design

I have a large personal collection of pictures. For every project, I choose images. Usually I don't do this until I've done an extensive script breakdown and distilled the text down to poetic form. I have to plant enough seeds so that there will be vibration.

Christine Jones http://www.amrep.org/articles/5_2b/creating.html
Set Design

If I weren't a theatre designer, I wouldn't be any other kind of designer. Design is interesting to me as it relates to narrative: the design has to support the narrative. Storytelling is the most important thing.

Christine Jones http://www.amrep.org/articles/5_2b/creating.html
General

There are two kinds of theatre, good and bad. Much as I should like to see theatre in America, I would rather have no theatre than bad theatre. What we must strive for is perfection and come as close to it as is humanly possible

Margot Jones http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
General

How do you teach someone that a theatre comes about first as an idea, from an individual who has a philosophy and a passion? That a theatre's idea is its heart and individual soul? That the person who creates it must have the desire not only to create work, but also to create the conditions in which that work can live--and in which others can do it as well? How do you teach someone to want to be a midwife as well as a mother.

Robert Kalfin The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting, Backstage, Directing, General

There is a kind of classlessness in the theater. The rehearsal pianist, the head carpenter, the stage manager, the star of the show--all are family.

John Kander It Happened On Broadway
Playwriting

Remember! the word is playwright --W-R-I-G-H-T -- like wheelwright. A play is not so much written as wrought. it's designed and built and shaped; it's carved out.

Garson Kanin
Acting

The secret of staying fresh in a show is to remember that the audience you're playing for that night has never seen it before.

Danny Kaye
Playwriting

I write plays for people who wouldn't be seen dead in the theatre.

Barrie Keefe http://izquotes.com/
Acting

I think I'm a better actress for having friends and interests outside the theatre. I wouldn't want to live my life surrounded by other actors all the time.

Penelope Keith http://www.brainyquote.com
Backstage

If we could read minds, we wouldn't need headsets.

Tommy Kendrick http://www.denagy.com/techiejokes/tjokes.html
General

The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose -- and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.

John F Kennedy
Critics

Reviewers must normally function as huff-and-puff artists blowing laggard theatergoers stageward.

Walter Kerr http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/walter_kerr.html
Musical Theatre

Wherever it came from, the musical came with its hair mussed and with an innocent, indolent, irreverent look on its bright, bland face.

Walter Kerr http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/walter_kerr.html
Acting

You can throw away the privilege of acting, but that would be such a shame. The tribe has elected you to tell its story. You are the shaman/healer, that's what the storyteller is, and I think it's important for actors to appreciate that. Too often actors think it's all about them, when in reality it's all about the audience being able to recognize themselves in you.

Ben Kingsley
Directing

Casting is instrumental in helping you understand the play. If you cast it right, as soon as the actor steps on the stage, you get certain impressions that help you understand what the play is about.

Howard Kissel It Happened On Broadway
Acting, Shakespeare

Playing Shakespeare requires technique. You don't play a Bach toccata by getting in the mood.

Kevin Kline The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Costumes

Your eyes will always go to red, which is why there is a lady in red in all my shows.

Florence Klotz It Happened On Broadway
Set Design

A stage set should not make a pretty picture of its own. The empty stage should look formal and pleasing, but should seem to be waiting for the action to complete it; it should not hold definite significance in itself.

G. Wilson Knight The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Musical Theatre

Look, I'm over 40, I'm single, and I work in musical theater - you do the math!

Nathan Lane http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/musical_theater
Acting

There's a certain secret every actor must have in his work. If you reveal it, you're letting the audience in on the wrinkles and convolutions of your brain. All I want them to do is to see the effect.

Frank Langella http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
General

A nonprofessional theatre is, simply, one comprised of people who do not derive their income from it and do not spend most of their time engaged in it. There are two distinct categories: (1) nonprofessional groups that present plays with some regularity; and (2) nonprofessional groups that are organized on a one-time basis to present a play or a show for some special purpose. The former represents what is known as community theatre, and the latter falls under the heading of amateur theatre (though both types are amateur, or nonprofessional).

Stephen Langley Theatre Management & Production in America
Playwriting

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation.

Ring Lardner The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting

Never not dare to hang yourself. That's the only way you grow in your profession. You must continually attempt things that you think are beyond you, or you get into a complete rut.

Charles Laughton Wikipedia (under Bette Davis)
Acting, Shakespeare

When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.

Olivier Laurence Laurence Olivier
General

If no single reason can fully account for the lack of great work on Broadway these days, there is a factor in the discussion that is rarely mentioned but which has a bearing on what gets produced: the audience. . . It's not audience intelligence that has waned; it's audience passion -- the pro forma Broadway standing ovation now springs from duty not desire. . . If that passion exists more in the audience for The Lord of the Rings than for contemporary Broadway musicals, well, at least it is alive somewhere.

Brendan Lemon http://www.curtainup.com/timelyquotes.html
General

If no single reason can fully account for the lack of great work on Broadway these days, there is a factor in the discussion that is rarely mentioned but which has a bearing on what gets produced: the audience. . . It's not audience intelligence that has waned; it's audience passion -- the pro forma Broadway standing ovation now springs from duty not desire.... If that passion exists more in the audience for The Lord of the Rings than for contemporary Broadway musicals, well, at least it is alive somewhere. (2003)

Brendan Lemon http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
Critics, General

Coughing in the theater is not a respiratory ailment. It is a criticism.

Alan Jay Lerner http://www.worldofquotes.com
Acting, Backstage, Directing

An actor without techies is a naked person standing in the dark trying to emote. A techie without actors is a person with marketable skills.

Mark Leslie http://www.denagy.com/techiejokes/tjokes.html
Acting

Bad acting, like bad writing, has a remarkable uniformity, whether seen on the French, German, or English stages; it all seems modeled after two or three types, and those the least like types of good acting. The fault generally lies less in the bad imitation of a good model, than in the successful imitation of a bad model.

George Lewes The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting

It is widely acknowledged to be the toughest job to get any two acting teachers to agree about anything.

Robert Lewis The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
General

The theater has to impose itself on the public, and not the public on the theater... The word "Art" should be written everywhere, in the auditorium and in the dressing rooms, before the word "Business" gets written there.

Federico Garcia Lorca
Management

In community theatres, "doers" seem to do the following: act, direct, choreograph, accompany, design, build, find, sew, sell, or usher. "Managers" plan, organize, staff, supervise and evaluate. Doers, like directors and crew chiefs, also "manage," and managers like stage managers also sometimes "do"--find props, paint sets, or hang lights. Leaders can also be managers and/or doers, but in their leadership capacity their activities include these: dreaming, pushing, causing to grow, problem-solving and inspiring. Their qualities of intelligence, imagination, commitment, perseverance, and passion are the very qualities that invite the rest of us to say "Yes!"

Twink Lynch Boards In the Spotlight, p. 95
Set Design

Theatrical design is different from many other art forms in that it is a collaborative art. No one theatre artist works independently to create a performance.

Kaoime Malloy The Art of Theatrical Design
Costumes

The moment an actor walks on stage, an impression is made. The audience immediately gains crucial information, both about the production as a whole and the character. A costume is a transformation garment, one that assists an actor to beomce, for a time, someone else.

Kaoime Malloy The Art of Theatrical Design
General, Playwriting

I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.

David Mamet
Acting, Playwriting

It is the writer's job to make the play interesting. It is the actor's job to make the performance truthful.

David Mamet The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Playwriting

A dramatic experience concerned with the mundane may inform but it cannot release; and one concerned essentially with the aesthetic politics of its creators may divert or anger, but it cannot enlighten.

David Mamet
Playwriting

Don't write stage directions. If it is not apparent what the character is trying to accomplish by saying the line, tell us how the character said it or whether or not she moved to the couch isn't going to aid the case.

David Mamet The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Costumes

Next to a tenor, a wardrobe woman is the touchiest thing in show business. [Birdie, in All About Eve]

Joseph Mankiewicz The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
General

I didn't like the play. But I saw it under unfavorable circumstances -- the curtains were up.

Groucho Marx http://www.ag.wastholm.net/category/art
Directing

If you cast wrong, you are in a lot of trouble.

Paul Mazursky Friendly Advice (book)
General

The Civic Theater idea, as a distinctive issue, implies the conscious awakening of a people to self-government in the activities of its leisure. To this end, organization of the arts of the theater, participation by the people in these arts not mere spectatorship, a new resulting technique, leadership by means of a permanent staff of artists (not of merchants in art), elimination of private profit by endowment and public support, dedication in the service to the whole community: these are chief among its essentials, and these imply a new and nobler scope for the art of the theater itself. [1912]

Percy McKaye
Acting

In the theatre, the actor is in total control. The director wasn't in the house last night, the designer wasn't there, the author's dead. It's just us and the audience.

Ian McKellen The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Lighting

Lighting paperwork is a living thing, continually evolving throughout the production process until opening night.

Anne E. McMills The Assistant Light Designer's Toolkit
Playwriting

No one makes you write plays; the world could sort of get along without me turning out a play every year, so I do this because I enjoy it enormously. It gives me great pleasure, and working in the theatre is, I think its own reward.

Terrence McNally

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