Theatre Quotes

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

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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
General

The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything -- gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness -- rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations. To break through language in order to touch life is to create or recreate the theatre.

Antonin Artaud
Acting

The theatre has built a whole art round the actor, based on the man and his double - the actor and his character.

Jean-Louis Barrault http://www.satheatre.com/quotes.htm
General, Playwriting

The theatre is a gross art, built in sweeps and over-emphasis. Compromise is its second name.

Enid Bagnold
General

The theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time.

Stella Adler http://www.brainyquote.com
General

The theatre is supremely fitted to say: "Behold! These things are." Yet most dramatists employ it to say: "This moral truth can be learned from beholding this action."

Thornton Wilder

http://www.quotecha.com/quotes/quotation_15961.html

General, Playwriting

The theatre is the best way of showing the gap between what is said and what is seen to be done, and that is why, ragged and gap-toothed as it is, it has still a far healthier potential than some poorer, abandoned arts.

David Hare
General

The theatre should be treated with respect. The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion. What it most emphatically is not and never will be is a scruffy, ill-lit, fumed-oak drill hall serving as a temporary soap box for political propaganda.

Noel Coward www.musicals101.com/noelquot.htm
General

The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.

Stella Adler http://www.brainyquote.com
General

The theatre, like the fresco, is art fitted to its place. And therefore it is above all else the human art, the living art.

Roman Rolland http://www.wisdomportal.com/Quotes
Acting, General, Playwriting

The thing that makes a creative person is to be creative and that is all there is to it.

Edward Albee http://www.mlquotes.com
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
Directing

The truth is that there is no one accepted method for directing, any more than there is for any other art. How a director fares is greatly dependent on who that person is, his collaborators, and the project at hand. To complicate matters, the relationship between product and process isnt't always a direct and causal one. Some directors work themselves to the bone, while others do very little. Paradoxically, they achieve successes and failures in both categories. But it would be naive not to believe that most successful productions occur because of the intensive efforts of a skilled director.

Michael Bloom Thinking Like a Director: A Practical Handbook
Acting

The truth of ourselves is the root of our acting.

Sanford Meisner http://www.aldersonstudio.com/quotes/index.html
Acting, Directing

The two happiest days in a theatre person's life: The day you start on a new show and the day the thing closes.

Unknown
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/
Acting, Directing

The whole point about laughter is it's like mercury: you can't catch it, you can't catch what motivates it - that's why it's funny.

Mike Nichols
General

The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.

Stella Adler http://www.brainyquote.com
Directing

The work of rehearsal is looking for meaning and then making it meaningful.

Peter Brook
General

The world is a complicated place, and there's a lot of division between people. The performing arts tend to unify people in a way nothing else does.

David Rubenstein
General

The world's a theater, the earth a stage,
Which God and Nature do with actors fill.

Thomas Heywood http://theatre.usc.edu/whatistheatre
Acting

The worst constructed play is a Bach fugue when compared to life.

Helen Hayes
General

Theater is life, film is art, television is furniture.

Unknown
General, Playwriting

Theater is so critical because it has always been able to release people from their isolation... The theater is a communal event, church. The playwright constructs a mass to be performed for a lot of people. She writes a prayer, which is just the longings of one heart.

Marsha Norman
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
General

Theatergoing is a communal act, movie going a solitary one.

Robert Brustein http://izquotes.com/
Lighting

Theatre is interesting because it's a very collaborative process. Typically I'm working with a director, a set designer, a costume designer and a sound designer too. That means that there are a number of perspectives that are brought into any particular script. Typically the director has the final say in where we go conceptually with a piece but we all have an opportunity to influence that direction and typically that direction is based on the script. As such, my studies in english and philosophy have enriched my ability to take a look at a text and react to it in my own way so that I can bring to the table what I consider to be an informed perspective. Then we negotiate the project's process and it's always quite enriching. Projects basically come out of a bond of trust that you have created. As I have progressed throughout my career I have gravitated to people who I feel a common bond with; who I seem to be able to communicate with. We establish a trust and then we go about our project. Very often I will work with someone for three or four years and we will have a particularly creative time and then, for whatever reasons, we will go our separate ways and new bonds will be established. It's an extremely communal approach to the arts. [Lighting designer Jock Munro]

Jock Munro http://www.artsalive.ca
General

Theatre is like a virus: once you get it you can't get rid of it.

Robin Boisseau http://www.hamptonu.edu/academics/schools/libarts/fparts/facultyandstaff.htm
General

THEATRE LOGIC
In is down, down is front,
out is up, up is back,
off is out, on is in,
and of course -
right is left, and left is right.

A drop shouldn't and a
block and fall does neither.
A prop doesn't and
a cove has no water.

Tripping is O.K.
A running crew rarely gets anywhere.
A purchase line will buy you nothing.
A trap will not catch anything.
A gridiron has nothing to do with football.

A Strike is work
(in fact a lot of work).
And a green room, thank God, usually isn't.
Now that you are fully versed in theatrical terms,
Break a leg...
but not really!

Unknown www.angelfire.com/dc/musicthea/Quotes.html
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
Acting

There are no small parts, there are only small actors.

Konstantin Stanislavksy The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
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
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
General, Musical Theatre

There is a traditional trick that theatre people have played as long as I can remember. A veteran member of a company will order a gullible newcomer to find the key to the curtain. Naturally, the joke is there is no such thing. I have been in the theatre over fifty years, and I don't think anyone would consider me naive, but all my life I've been searching for that key. And I'm still looking. . . .

Richard Rodgers Musical Stages
Backstage

There is no definitive list of the duties of a stage manager that is applicable to all theaters and staging environments. Regardless of specific duties, however, the stage manager is the individual who accepts responsibility for the smooth running of rehearsals and performances, on stage and backstage.

Lawrence Stern Stage Management
General

There is no greater gift that a person can be given than to be put in touch with his creativity. [Theatre] transformed my life. [Director Declan Donnellan on discovering theatre as a lonely 16 year old.]

Declan Donnellan The Guardian
Set Design

There is no more reason for a room on a stage to be a reproduction of an actual room than for an actor who plays the part of Napoleon to be Napoleon, or for an actor who plays Death in the old morality play to be dead.

Robert Edmond Jones The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
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
Acting

These performers that go on about their technique and craft - oh, puleeze! How boring! I don't know what 'technique' means. But I do know what experience is.

Elaine Stritch
Directing

This ain't Chekhov, you know! [comment to cast during a rehearsal for "H.M.S. Pinafore"]

Alan Stambusky

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