Theatre Quotes

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

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Category Quotesort descending First Last Source

The novel is more of a whisper, whereas the stage is a shout.

Robert Holman

The number of people who will not go to a show they do not want to see is unlimited.

Oscar Hammerstein

The only way to deal with yourself as an actor is to follow the emotional truth of what you have to do under the imaginary circumstances. And as you develop you become confident. You come to believe in what you're doing and trust it because it's out of you.

Sanford Meisner
Acting, Directing, General, Playwriting

The only way to see the value of a play is to see it acted.


The performance is not an illusionist copy of reality, its imitation; nor is it a set of conventions, accepted as a kind of deliberate game, playing at a seperate theatrical reality... The actor does not play, does not imitate, or pretend. He is himself.

Ludwik Flaszen Flaszen Grotowski's Laboratory
Directing, Shakespeare

The play loses a great deal of its meaning if it is robbed of a magic which springs, not from the glittering tip of a department-store wand, but from the earth, the stones, the very air of the wood; and a magic which is not merely pretty but dark and dangerous. [said of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tyrone Guthrie
Acting, Directing, General

The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.

Oscar Wilde

The primary function of a theater is not to please itself, or even to please its audience. It is to serve talent.

Robert Brustein

The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature. [Hamlet]

William Shakespeare The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Directing, General

The purpose of theatre is... making an event in which a group of fragments are suddenly brought together... in a community which, by the natural laws that make every community, gradually breaks up... At certain moments this fragmented world comes together and for a certain time it can rediscover the marvel of organic life. The marvel of being one.

Peter Brook


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