Theatre Quotes

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

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A play is a series of actions. A play is not about action, nor does it describe action. Is a fire about flames? Does it describe flames? No, a fire is flames. A play is action. Why do you think actors are called actors? And action in a play occurs when something happens that makes or permits something else to happen.

David Ball Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays

A playwright is someone who lets his guts hang out on the stage.

Edward Albee

A playwright is the litmus paper of the arts. He's got to be, because if he isn't working on the same wave length as the audience, no one would know what in hell he was talking about. He is a kind of psychic journalist, even when he's great.

Arthur Miller
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

A statement of vision is the overarching purpose, the big dream, the visionary concept--something presently out of reach--so stated that it excites the imagination and chlalenges people to work for something they do not yet know how to do.

Robert Greenleaf Servant Leadership

A talent for drama is not a talent for writing, but is an ability to articulate human relationships.

Gore Vidal

Act in your pauses.

Ellen Terry Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur

Act well your part; there all the honor lies.

Alexander Pope Essay on Man, Epistle iv, line 193

Acted drama requires surrender of one's self, sympathetic absorption in the play as it develops.

George P. Baker

Acting expresses a part of the self otherwise hidden to the conscious mind.

Lisa M. O'Neill

Acting is a matter of giving away secrets.

Ellen Barkin

Acting is a very limited form of expression and those who take it seriously are very limited people. I take it seriously.

Judy Holliday

Acting is an everlasting search for truth.

Laurence Olivier

Acting is experience with something sweet behind it.

Humphrey Bogart

Acting is half shame, half glory. Shame at exhibiting yourself, glory when you can forget yourself.

John Gielgud The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing.

Ralph Richardson

Acting is mostly about listening. If you just focus in on what the other person is saying, acting takes care of itself to quite a large extent.

Alan Rickman

Acting is not a state of being ... but a state of appearing to be. You can't be eight times a week without going stark staring mad. You've got to be in control.

Noel Coward

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

Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express emotion.

Kate Reid


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