Theatre Quotes

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

For use in newsletters, season or fundraising brochures or emails, presentations--you name it.

Displaying 1 - 60 of 404. Show 5 | 10 | 20 | 40 | 60 results per page.
Category Quote First Last Source
Acting

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

George Abbott Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Playwriting

The dramatist's function is (1) to earn a living for his family and himself and (2) to try to entertain people for a few hours.

Lee Adams Playwrights, Composers, Lyricists on Theater
Acting

We've put a man on the moon. If you miss a cue, no one will die.

Shelli Aderman www.angelfire.com/dc/musicthea/Quotes.html
General

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

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

The most important thing you can teach actors is to understand plays.

Stella Adler The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
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
Acting

It's not enough to have talent, you have to have a talent for your talent.

Stella Adler
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
General

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

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

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

Edward Albee http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
Playwriting

People often ask me how long it takes me to write a play, and I tell them 'all of my life.'

Edward Albee http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
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
Playwriting

The mission of the playwright is to look in his heart and write, to write whatever concerns him at the moment; to write with passion and conviction. Of course the measure of the man will be the measure of the play.

Robert Anderson Theatre Arts Mar 58
Acting

As an actor, you can't play the tragedy. You can only play the choices, the intentions of your character.

Christine Andreas Notes for CD "The Garland Variations"
Backstage

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

Anonymous
Acting

I don't make mistakes, I have unintentional improvisations.

Anonymous
General

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

Aristotle The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
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
General, Playwriting

Good plays drive bad playgoers crazy.

Brooks Atkinson Theatre Arts Aug 56
Acting, Directing, General

Although the theater is not life, it is composed of fragments or imitations of life, and people on both sides of the footlight have to unite to make the fragments whole and the imitations genuine.

Brooks Atksinson
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
General, Playwriting

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

Enid Bagnold
Acting

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

George P. Baker http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgepba199310.html

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
Acting

If you want to help the American theatre, don't be an actress, be an audience.

Tallulah Bankhead Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

It's one of the tragic ironies of the theatre that only one man in it can count on steady work -- the night watchman.

Tallulah Bankhead Tallulah: My Autobiography
Playwriting

A good play is a play which when acted upon the boards make an audience interested and pleased. A play that fails in this is a bad play.

Maurice Baring http://theatre.usc.edu/whatistheatre
Acting

Acting is a matter of giving away secrets.

Ellen Barkin
General

I don't see why people want new plays all the time. What would happen to concerts if people wanted new music all the time?

Clive Barnes
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
Acting

An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow.

Lawrence Barrett http://www.satheatre.com/quotes.htm
Playwriting

I haven't really written my plays and books -- I've heard them. The stories are there already, singing in your genes and in your blood.

Sebastian Barry
Acting

For an actress to be a success she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros.

Ethel Barrymore George Jean Nathan: The Theatre in the Fifties
Costumes, Set Design

Be daring, be different, be impractical; be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. Routines have their purposes, but the merely routine is the hidden enemy of high art. [Advice to theatrical designers,]

Cecil Beaton The Secret of How to Startle Theatre Arts May 57
Lighting

Lights are to drama what music is to the lyrics of a song. The greatest part of my success in the theatre I attribute to my feeling for colors, translated into effects of light.

David Belasco The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting, Playwriting

A play has two authors, the playwright and the actor.

Eric Bentley In Search of Theater
General, Management

Someone once said that being an artistic director is the intelligent exercise of one's own taste. And that is what I believe with all my heart and soul. If you start second-guessing yourself in advance, I think you're done for.

Andre Bishop The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
General

If politics is the art of the possible, theatre is the art of the impossible.

Herbert Blau 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
Directing

In the most basic terms, the director is a production's primary storyteller. A play has only one plot (including subplots), but it contains many potential stories. The interpretation of the primary characters largely determines the story, so in effect, every production of the same play will inevitably tell a different tale. One of the most important functions a director fulfills is determining, with the actors and designers, which story to tell and how to tell it coherently.

Michael Bloom Thinking Like a Director: A Practical Handbook
Directing

Most directors work from inside out and from the outside in. They concentrate not only on the life of the characters but also on the play's structrual or external elements, including its central conflict, function, event, architecture, and suspense.

Michael Bloom Thinking Like a Director: A Practical Handbook
Acting

Acting is experience with something sweet behind it.

Humphrey Bogart
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
Backstage

Beat to fit, paint to match.

Kate Bolgrien http://www.denagy.com/techiejokes/tjokes.html
Acting

Actors should be overheard, not listened to, and the audience is fifty percent of the performance.

Shirley Booth Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
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
Acting

Nobody "becomes" a character. You can't act unless you are who you are.

Marlon Brando Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

Acting, in general, is something most people think they're incapable of, but they do it from morning to night. The subtlest acting I've ever seen is by ordinary people trying to show they feel something they don't, or trying to hide something. It's something everyone learns at an early age.

Marlon Brando Newsweek, 13 March 1972
Acting

Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It's a bum's life. The principal benefit acting has afforded me is the money to pay for my psychoanalysis.

Marlon Brando
General

We need a type of theatre which not only releases the feelings, insights and impulses possible within the particular historical field of human relations in which the action takes place, but employs and encourages those thoughts and feelings which help transform the field itself.

Bertolt Brecht www.angelfire.com/dc/musicthea/Quotes.html
Directing

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

Peter Brook
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
Acting

Preparing a character is the opposite of building--it is a demolishing, removing brick by brick everything in the actor's muscles, ideas and inhibitions that stands between him and the part, until one day, with a great rush of air, the character invades his every pore.

Peter Brook
Fundraising

If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them.

Jeff Brooks
General

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

Robert Brustein
General

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

Robert Brustein http://izquotes.com/
Acting

The most important thing in acting is honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

George Burns Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

When I was a fireman I was in a lot of burning buildings. It was a great job, the only job I ever had that compares with the thrill of acting.

Steve Buscemi http://theatre.usc.edu/whatistheatre
Management

The core challenge for us as arts managers is to deal with change: changing external environmental conditions, evolving styles and approaches to the arts by our artists, advancements iin how we present and distribute our art to our ever-changing audiences, and the shifting competition for resources and attention.

William J. Byrnes Management and the Arts (Fifth Edition)
Acting

Walk in, plant yourself, look the other person in the eye, and tell the truth.

James Cagney Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur

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