Theatre Quotes

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

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I love playing Chekhov. That's the hardest; that's why I love it most.

Uta Hagen

I open with a clock striking, to beget an awful attention in the audience -- it also marks the time, which is four o clock in the morning, and saves a description of the rising sun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
General, Playwriting

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

Oscar Wilde

I see the playwright as a lay preacher peddling the ideas of his time in popular form.

August Strindberg
Acting, Set Design

I started off as a theatre designer, and by some extraordinary circumstance I saw something in Stratford-upon-Avon, and realized that that's the kind of design I want, but also that that's the kind of designer I'll never be.

Judi Dench

I started writing for the theatre because I hated it.

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

I still suffer terribly from stage fright. I get sick with fear. Not every night, but at the beginning and on occasion - not necessarily when I'm expecting it. You just have to cope with it - take it on the chin and work through it, trying to use the adrenalin to perform. keyword=stagefright

Helen Mirren

I swear fearfully at the conventions of the stage.

Anton Chekhov The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting, Directing

I think actors have a greater responsibility when doing comedy. It's as easy as anything to get cheap laughs, but that's not the idea at all. "The slight trip syndrome," we call it. With tragedy one can get away with things a bit more because audiences don't always know how to react.

Peter Bowles Richmond Magazine, April 2001

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
Acting, Directing, General

I think that first nights should come near the end of a play's run--as indeed, they often do.

Peter Ustinov The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

I think that the first thing that I learned about lighting design was that there are no real rules involved and that as long as I remembered this then my lighting would remain fresh and interesting to me and hopefully to the audience and to the people that I collaborate with.

Jock Munro
Costumes, Set Design

I think the best shows are always the ones where the elements come together very well and where the intention is realized. These are the shows in which what you set out do is what you end up with. Through very fortunate circumstances, like the combination of a good director, a good cast, and other people designing, you all manage to end up at the point that you intended when you started out. Nothing is ever perfect and there are always things that you'd perhaps do differently but I think that as long as you get a sense of fulfillment from a show then it is going to be a good experiences. [Christina Poddubiuk, Set and Costume designer]

Christina Poddubiuk
General, Playwriting

I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.

David Mamet

I think, by and large, the level of acting is mediocre. When I go to the theatre, I get so angry. I don't go.

Uta Hagen
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
Acting, Directing

I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.

Orson Welles

I want to make the audience laugh and cry within ten seconds, to show just how close those emotions are.

Neil Simon It Happened On Broadway

I will accept anything in the theatre . . . provided it amuses or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.

Noel Coward

I will accept anything in the theatre . . . provided it amuses or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.

Noel Coward


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