Theatre Quotes

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

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Playwriting

But when I got to SMU and decided to take a playwriting class, I said this isn't a bad idea. If I write characters, they could be as dumb as me, and I don't have to be very smart.

Beth Henley http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/beth_henley.html
Playwriting

By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.

Arthur Miller http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Miller
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
General

Charity in the theater begins and ends with those who have a play opening within a week of one's own.

Moss Hart
Critics, General

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

Alan Jay Lerner http://www.worldofquotes.com
Backstage

Definition of Stage Manager: The person who rarely gets credit when everything goes right.

Anonymous
Set Design

Designers play with scale and proportion, making the ordinary extraordinary by taking an object out of context and changing its scale in relation to the characters' size and appearance.

Peter Ruthven Hall http://www.theatredesign.org.uk/events.htm
Directing

Directing takes such a big lump out of your life.

Alan Rickman http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alanrickma251372.html
Directing

Don't let a single comic moment pass you by; then help the audience get the laughs. Give them permission to laugh by holding for laughter and by letting them know early on what they're in for. In the first few moments, the audience is gathering information, looking at the scenery and costumes. Create a comic moment as soon as you can.

James Carver Stage Directions Guide to Directing
Acting

Don't think you're funny. It'll never work if you think you're funny.

George Abbott Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

Don't use your conscious past, use your creative imagination to create a past that belongs to your character. I don't want you to be stuck with your own life. It's too little.

Stella Adler Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
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
Fundraising

Donors don't give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.

G.T. Smith http://www.museummarketingtips.com/quotes/giving.html
General, Playwriting

Drama - what literature does at night.

George Jean Nathan
Playwriting

Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have -- by disrupting that order -- a way of surprising.

Vaclav Havel
Playwriting

Drama is based on the Mistake. I think someone is my friend when he really is my enemy, that I am free to marry a woman when in fact she is my mother, that this person is a chambermaid when it is a young nobleman in disguise, that this well-dressed young man is rich when he is really a penniless adventurer, or that if I do this such and such a result will follow when in fact it results in something very different. All good drama has two movements, first the making of the mistake, then the discovery that it was a mistake.

W.H. Auden
Playwriting

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

Alfred Hitchcock
Playwriting

Drama should not present new stories but new relationships.

Frederick Hessel The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Set Design

Eugene Lee is a set designer who's famously said that he hates scenery. The reason it's such a joy to work with him is he's never designing the scenery, he's designing the room in which theater is going to take place. It makes for a much more vibrant conversation about what we're going to work on together. [Oskar Eustis , artistic director of the Public Theater, Boston]

Oskar Eustis http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2007/01/21/the_joy_of_sets
Acting

Every now and then, when you're on stage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live.

Shelley Winters

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