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 Firstsort descending Last Source
General

It is the characteristic of the most stringent censorships that they give credibility to the opinions they attack.

Voltaire
Acting, Directing, General, Playwriting

The only way to see the value of a play is to see it acted.

Voltaire
Backstage

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

Anonymous
General

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

Unknown
General

All the world's a stage. Some of us just have better seats.

Unknown
Fundraising

Most giving is 80% emotion and 20 % rational. And the best way to get to someone's emotions is to tell a story.

Unknown
Backstage, Management

Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand.

Chinese Proverb
Lighting, Set Design

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

Unknown
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

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

A fool cannot be an actor, though an actor may act a fool's part.

Sophocles http://www.giga-usa.com/quotes/topics/acting_t003.htm
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
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
Acting

Every performer has moments of self doubt. The great ones, however,overcome every obstacle to reach their full artistic potential. It takes talent, to be sure, but it also takes a personality that simply will not settle for second best. That's what makes us respect the effort and admire the results.

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

As nearly everyone knows, a manager has practically nothing to do except to decide what is to be done; to tell somebody to do it; to listen to reasons why it should not be done, why it should be done by someone else, or why it should be done in a different way; to follow up to see if the thing has been done; to discover that it has not; to inquire why; to listen to excuses from the person who should have done it; to follow up again to see if the thing has been done, only to discover that it has been done incorrectly; to point out how it should have been done; to conclude that as long as it has been done, it may as well be left where it is; to wonder if it is not time to get rid of a person who cannot do a thing right; to reflect that he or she probably has a family, and that certainly any successor would be just as bad, and maybe worse; to consider how much simpler and better the thing would have been done if one had done it oneself in the first place; to reflect sadly that one could have done it right in 20 minutes, and, as things turned out, one had to spend two days to find out why it has taken three weeks for somebody else to do it wrong.

Unknown
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
Acting

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

Anonymous
Directing

Directing takes such a big lump out of your life.

Alan Rickman http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alanrickma251372.html
Acting

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 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alanrickma251358.html
Acting

Acting touches nerves you have absolutely no control over.

Alan Rickman http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alanrickma251360.html
Directing

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

Alan Stambusky
Critics, General

Coughing in the theater is not a respiratory ailment. It is a criticism.

Alan Jay Lerner http://www.worldofquotes.com
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
Acting

An actor is at his best a kind of unfrocked priest who, for an hour or two, can call on heaven and hell to mesmerize a group of innocents

Alec Guinness http://www.curtainup.com/quotepro.html
Acting, Shakespeare

Much of the day I have busied myself making notes on the small parts in Shakespeare, often nameless, which are rewarding to the actor if only he'll not dismiss them as beneath his dignity. If I can work it up into a talk I might call it, 'Only a cough and a spit ' ---the phrase so often used by actors to explain away a lack of opportunity.

Alec Guinness My Name Escapes Me, 1996
Acting

Act well your part; there all the honor lies.

Alexander Pope Essay on Man, Epistle iv, line 193
Playwriting

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

Alfred Hitchcock
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/
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
Directing

One of the issues peculiar to community theater is dealing with inexperienced or outright bad actors who are so unimaginative, so lacking in energy, that no matter what devices you use, you just don't seem to be helping them that much. They will improve. It is your rseponsibility that the actor should ever feel that he or she has failed.

Ann Jellicoe Stage Directions Guide to Directing
General

Although one may fail to find happiness in theatrical life, one never wishes to give it up after having once tasted its fruits.

Anna Pavlova

http://en.thinkexist.com/keyword/theatrical

Lighting

Lighting paperwork is a living thing, continually evolving throughout the production process until opening night.

Anne E. McMills The Assistant Light Designer's Toolkit
Acting

Having talent is like having blue eyes. You don't admire a man for the colour of his eyes. I admire a man for what he does with his talent.

Anthony Quinn Sunday Express, 1960
Acting

Acting's entertainment. It's not brain surgery.

Anthony Hopkins Hello! Special Edition, 9.6.01.
Playwriting

I swear fearfully at the conventions of the stage.

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

The critics suppose that it is easy to write a play. They aren't aware that writing a good play is difficult and writing a bad one is twice as hard.

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

If there is a gun hanging on the wall in the first act, it must fire in the last.

Anton Chekhov http://www.ag.wastholm.net/category/art
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

I don't possess a lot of self-confidence. I'm an actor so I simply act confident every time I hit the stage. I am consumed with the fear of failing. Reaching deep down and finding confidence has made all my dreams come true.

Arsenio Hall

http://home.att.net/~quotations/theatre.html

Playwriting

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
Playwriting

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.

Arthur Miller http://www.satheatre.com/quotes.htm
Playwriting

By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.

Arthur Miller http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Miller
Playwriting

If the nature of human experience changes with the color of a man's skin, then the racists have been right all along.

Athol Fugard The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips
Playwriting

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

August Strindberg
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
Playwriting

I write plays for people who wouldn't be seen dead in the theatre.

Barrie Keefe http://izquotes.com/
Acting

The fun for me is knowing what the other person is saying and what my character would be thinking at that time. On the stage you get the chance to do all that, to analyze and build a part, to react, to contribute something no one else can--not the author, not even the director.

Barry Nelson It Happened On Broadway
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, 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
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
Playwriting

But when I got to SMU and decided to take a playwriting class, I said this isn't a bad idea. If I write characters, they could be as dumb as me, and I don't have to be very smart.

Beth Henley http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/beth_henley.html
Acting

Pray to God and say the lines.

Bette Davis Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
Acting

I do not regret one professional enemy I have made. Any actor who doesn't dare to make an enemy should get out of the business.

Bette Davis http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/acting
Lighting

Lighting design is ultimately not about numbers and calculations. It is about feelings and spontaneous reactions. Although the designer can calculate how 'big and bright' a fixture will be at any distance, from the manufacturer's data sheet, eventually he must just instinctively 'know', how a specific fixture will perform at any distance. This comes from both practice and experience.

Bill Williams Lighting Mechanics, by Bill Williams
Lighting

The first rule of stage lighting is...there aren't any.

Bill Williams Lighting Mechanics, by Bill Williams
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
Lighting

Stage lighting is no longer a matter of simple illumination as it was less than 100 years ago. Today, the lighting designer is expected to be a master of art, science, history, psychology, communications, politics and sometimes even mind reading.

Bill Williams http://www.mts.net/%7Ewilliam5/sld/sld-100.htm
Lighting

The lighting designer will never stop learning. Every production or project will present new challenges, new obstacles, new human dynamics and new problems to solve. There can and should be many failures along the way. This is part of the artistic process. The lighting designer shouldn't hesitate to make as many mistakes as possible - just don't make the same mistake twice.

Bill Williams http://www.mts.net/%7Ewilliam5/sld/sld-100.htm
Lighting

Stage lighting is no longer a matter of simple illumination as it was less than 100 years ago. Today, the lighting designer is expected to be a master of art, science, history, psychology, communications, politics, and sometimes even mind reading.

Bill Williams http://www.mts.net/%7Ewilliam5/sld/sld-100.htm
Lighting

The stage designer quickly learns that things are not always what they appear to be. A director who asks for 'more light' on an actor, probably doesn't mean that at all. Instead he really just wants 'to see the actor better'. The designer might chose to reduce the lighting contrast around the actor, or simply ask the actor to tip his head up a bit. Both solutions solve the problem without 'adding more light'. So the lighting designer also has to be a good listener, a careful interpreter and a skilled crafts person.

Bill Williams http://www.mts.net/%7Ewilliam5/sld/sld-100.htm

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