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.

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Category Quote First Last Sourcesort descending
Acting, Directing

All action in theatre must have inner justification, be logical, coherent, and real.

Constantin Stanislavski

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.


The world is a complicated place, and there's a lot of division between people. The performing arts tend to unify people in a way nothing else does.

David Rubenstein

The arts are at the very center of community development in this time of change...change for the better. The frontier and all that it once meant in economic development and in the sheer necessity of building a nation is being replaced by the frontier of the arts. In no other way can Americans so well express the core and blood of their democracy; for in the communities lies the final text of the acceptance of the arts as a necessity of everyday life. In terms of American democracy, the arts are for everyone. They are not reserved for the wealthy, or for the well-endowed museum, the gallery, or the ever-subsidized regional professional theater. As America emerges into a different understanding of her strength, it becomes clear that her strength is in the people and the places where the people live. The people, if shown the way, can create art in and of themselves.

Robert Gard
Musical Theatre

I know the world is filled with troubles and many injustices. But reality is as beautiful as it is ugly. I think it is just as important to sing about beautiful mornings as it is to talk about slums. I just couldn't write anything without hope in it.

Oscar Hammerstein

The Civic Theater idea, as a distinctive issue, implies the conscious awakening of a people to self-government in the activities of its leisure. To this end, organization of the arts of the theater, participation by the people in these arts not mere spectatorship, a new resulting technique, leadership by means of a permanent staff of artists (not of merchants in art), elimination of private profit by endowment and public support, dedication in the service to the whole community: these are chief among its essentials, and these imply a new and nobler scope for the art of the theater itself. [1912]

Percy McKaye

The number of people who will not go to a show they do not want to see is unlimited.

Oscar Hammerstein

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

One mustn't allow acting to be like stockbroker -- you must not take it just as a means of earning a living, to go down every day to do a job of work. The big thing is to combine punctuality, efficiency, good nature, obedience, intelligence, and concentration with an unawareness of what is going to happen next, thus keeping yourself available for excitement.

John Gielgud

Acting isn't something you do. Instead of doing it, it occurs. If you're going to start with logic, you might as well give up. You can have conscious preparation, but you have unconscious results.

Lee Strasberg


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