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 - 40 of 407. Show 5 | 10 | 20 | 40 | 60 results per page.
Category Quote First Last Source
Acting, Directing, General

Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.

Martha Graham Merce Cunningham: The Modernizing of Modern Dance, by Roger Copeland (Routledge Books)
Set Design

My process is that I will read the play a couple of times and then not do anything until I've spoken with the director, because, of course, there are 500 different ways a play can look--and still honor every word that's in those stage directions. I don't want to think about how it works until I know what the director is interested in, and if the playwright is around, what they're thinking about as they've written it. Then I go away and do my research.

Rachel Hauck Interview with the set designer in Stage Directions magazine, August 2019
Acting, Directing

You know what's the loudest noise in the world, man? The loudest noise in the world is silence.

Thelonious Monk The Quotable Musician, from Bach to Tupac, by Sheila E. Anderson (Allworth Press)
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 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
General

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

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

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

Stella Adler
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, 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, 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

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
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"
Acting

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

Anonymous
Backstage

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

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

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
Acting

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

Tallulah Bankhead Friendly Advice by Jon Winokur
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

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