Theatre Quotes

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

Displaying 1 - 60 of 404. Show 5 | 10 | 20 | 40 | 60 results per page.
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Costumes

Your eyes will always go to red, which is why there is a lady in red in all my shows.

Florence Klotz It Happened On Broadway
Acting

Young actors, fear your admirers! Learn in time, from your first steps, to hear, understand and love the cruel truth about yourselves. Find out who can tell you that truth and talk of your art only with those who can tell you the truth.

Konstantin Stanislavsky http://www.giga-usa.com/quotes/topics/acting_t004.htm
Acting

You're an actor, are you? Well, all that means is: you are irresponsible, irrational, romantic, and incapable of handling an adult emotion or a universal concept without first reducing it to something personal, material, sensational -- and probably sexual.

George Herman

http://quotes.prolix.nu/Art/Theatre

Acting

You'd think is something one would grow out of. But you grow into it. The more you do, the more you realize how painfully easy it is to be lousy and how very difficult to be good.

Glenda Jackson People, March 1985
Acting

You think, you don't just speak. The lines come off the thoughts.

Jeremy Irons American Film magazine
Acting, Directing, General, Playwriting

You need three things in the theatre -- the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something.

Kenneth Haigh http://www.satheatre.com/quotes.htm
General

You have two kinds of shows on Broadway -- revivals and the same kind of musicals over and over again, all spectacles. You get your tickets for 'The Lion King' a year in advance, and essentially a family comes as if to a picnic, and they pass on to their children the idea that that's what the theater is -- a spectacular musical you see once a year, a stage version of a movie. It has nothing to do with theater at all. It has to do with seeing what is familiar. We live in a recycled culture.

Stephen Sondheim NY Times 3/12/00
Acting, Shakespeare

You have to think about the big speeches in Shakespeare as the most important things the character has ever said; they need to be spoken with your chest cut open, your heart bare, and with tremendous passion. You need to tear the words from the sky. If you don't feel like you've run a marathon when you're done, you're not doing it right. It takes courage to open yourself up to an audience like that, letting them see your insides without desperately trying to show them--it takes practice.

Ben Crystal author of Shakespeare on Toast
Acting

You cannot tell an audience a lie. They know it before you do; before it's out of your mouth, they know it's a lie.

Elaine Stritch
Fundraising

You cannot expect people to give to you on an annual basis if they have never heard of your organization or are unaware of what you do in the community and why it is so important. As part of this annual giving plan, your board of directors (with staff help) needs to have a time of brainstorming so you can identify all your “target markets” i.e. those people with whom you need to establish a relationship.

NonprofitExpert.com http://www.nonprofitexpert.com/annualgiving.htm
Acting, Directing, General

You can't make theater happen without actors. The actor is the central ingredient in making theater happen. Audiences may come to theaters to see the work of stage managers, directors and producers, but the only people who can communicate theater magic to audiences, through ideas and emotions, are the actors. They are the only ones who can communicate this by themselves, and if necessary, they can get along without you. But you can't make theater without the actor.

Lawrence Stern Stage Management
Acting

You can't learn to act unless you're criticized. If you tie that criticism to your childhood insecurities you'll have a terrible time. Instead, you must take criticism objectively, pertaining it only to the work being done.

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

You can't be funny unless you're tragic, and you can't be tragic unless you're funny.

Elaine Stritch
Acting

You can throw away the privilege of acting, but that would be such a shame. The tribe has elected you to tell its story. You are the shaman/healer, that's what the storyteller is, and I think it's important for actors to appreciate that. Too often actors think it's all about them, when in reality it's all about the audience being able to recognize themselves in you.

Ben Kingsley
Acting

You ask my advice about acting? Speak clearly, don't bump into the furniture and if you must have motivation, think of your pay packet on Friday.

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

Writing a play, you start with less, so more is demanded of you. It's as if you have to not only write a symphony, but invent the instruments as well.

David Ives http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/d/david_ives.html
Costumes

Why don't I just give you some money, then you can buy whatever you want to wear on stage. You obviously want a shopper, and I am merely a designer. [said to an uncooperative actress during a costume fitting]

Nan Cibula-Jenkins The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Playwriting

Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory.

Tennessee Williams
Playwriting

White male playwrights' works continue to dominate production slates. Sometimes it seems easier for them to have the texts of their driver's licenses produced than for the female or non-white playwright to have her best play produced. The reality is, they are more often given that all-important opportunity to fail than the women's play or ethnic play.

Velina Hasu Houston http://www.pubinfo.vcu.edu/artweb/playwriting/quotes.html
Musical Theatre

Wherever it came from, the musical came with its hair mussed and with an innocent, indolent, irreverent look on its bright, bland face.

Walter Kerr http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/walter_kerr.html
Acting

When you're doing a play and you're afraid of a scene, that's the scene you should embrace, because that's the scene that will tell you something about the play.

Raul Esparza NY Times, 11/26/06
Acting

When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.

Laurence Olivier Theatre Arts May 58
Acting, Shakespeare

When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.

Olivier Laurence Laurence Olivier
Acting

When you want to put something into your part that is not in the play, you must ask the author--or some other author--to lead up to the interpolation for you. Never forget that the effect of a line may depend not on its delivery, but on something said earlier in the play, either by somebody else or by yourself, and that if you change it, it may be necessary to change the whole first act as well.

George Bernard Shaw Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

When you go into the professional world, at a stock theater somewhere, backstage you will meet an older actor--someone who has been around awhile. He will tell you tales and anecdotes about life in the theater. He will speak to you about your performance and the performances of others, and he will generalize to you, based on his experience and his intuitions, about the laws of the stage. Ignore this man.

Sanford Meisner Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Lighting, Set Design

When it's good design, you alone will know. When it's bad design - everyone will tell you!

Unknown
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
Playwriting

When I first started writing plays I couldn't write good dialogue because I didn't respect how black people talked. I thought that in order to make art out of their dialogue I had to change it, make it into something different. Once I learned to value and respect my characters, I could really hear them. I let them start talking.

August Wilson http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/playwriting_quotes.html
Acting

When actors go onstage, you know immediately if they can do their job. You can be a lawyer or an accountant for years and not find out.

Patsy Rodenburg The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Acting

Whatever you do kid, always serve it with a little dressing.

George M. Cohan Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

What is the main problem of the actor? It is to keep the audience awake, and not let them go to sleep, then wake up and go home feeling they've wasted their money.

Laurence Olivier
Management

What constitutes a good manager in this field? He must be knowledgeable in the art with which he is concerned, an impresario, labor negotiator, diplomat, educator, publicity and public relations expert, politician, skilled businessman, a social sophisticate, a servant of the community, a tireless leader -- becomingly humble before authority -- a teacher, a tyrant, and a continuing student of the arts.

Rockefeller Panel Report Rockefeller Panel Report: The Performing Arts
Acting

What acting means is that you've got to get out of your own skin.

Katherine Hepburn Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
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

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
Acting

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

James Cagney Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Volunteers

Volunteers will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no volunteers.

Ken Wyman
Acting

Use your weaknesses; aspire to the strength.

Laurence Olivier Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Lighting

Ultimately, the lighting designer must be an artist! He must understand style, composition, balance, esthetics and human emotions. He must also understand the science of light, optics, vision, the psychology of perception and lighting technology. Using these tools the lighting designer must learn to think, feel and create with his heart.

Bill Williams Lighting Mechanics, by Bill Williams
General

To save the theatre, the theatre must be destroyed, the actors and actresses must all die of the plague. They poison the air, they make art impossible. It is not drama that they play, but pieces for the theatre. We should return to the Greeks, play in the open air; the drama dies of stalls and boxes and evening dress, and people who come to digest their dinner.

Eleanora Duse http://izquotes.com/
Acting

To go into acting is like asking for admission to an insane asylum. Anyone may apply, but only the certifiably insane are admitted.

Michael Shurtleff Audition
Acting

To be a character who feels a deep emotion, one must go into the memory's vault and mix in a sad memory from one's own life.

Albert Finney Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
General

This is an extremely foolish and stupid and idiotic kind of attitude--to expect theatres to make money. Do the public schools make money? Do libraries make money? Does the zoo make money? Do the sewers make money? It's a community service.

John Hirsch The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
General, Management

This is a non-commercial theatre. It's got to be run by a person who sees right from the start that the profits won't be money profits. [On the idea of a Federal Theatre Project, 1934]

Harry Hopkins The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Directing

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

Alan Stambusky
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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

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

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

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

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

Robert Brustein http://izquotes.com/
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

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