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 281 - 320 of 404. Show 5 | 10 | 20 | 40 | 60 results per page.
Category Quote First Last Source

As a writer you're holding a dog. You let the dog run about. But you finally can pull him back. Finally, I'm in control. But the great excitement is to see what happens if you let the whole thing go. And the dog or the character really runs about, bites everyone in sight, jumps up trees, falls into lakes, gets wet, and you let that happen. That's the excitement of writing plays--to allow the thing to be free but still hold the final leash.

Harold Pinter

If you do a certain amount of work on your own before consulting with the director then the process starts with the script. I tend to do a certain amount of my own work before I go into a first meeting. It is important to be open minded in your first meeting with a director but I like to be well-prepared for that meeting because sometimes that time with your director can be limited. At the time of that first meeting, I will have read the play several times and from different points of view. I might read the play once to just check how many costume changes there are. I will read it again to make a prop list. I will read it again to analyse where the entrances and exits are and also to imagine where the furniture will be. It's difficult to concentrate on all of these things in one reading so I go through these processes in separate readings. Once you have that under your belt, depending on the period of the production, I guess I start to do visual research based on my response to the text. Depending on where and when I might choose to look at photography of the period or I might choose to look at painting or I might just look at history books and look for thematic influences. That's the start and having done that you team up with your director and see what their response is to those ideas you have and then you start to form a stronger direction. [Christina Poddubiuk, Set and Costume designer]

Christina Poddubiuk
Costumes, Set Design

I think the best shows are always the ones where the elements come together very well and where the intention is realized. These are the shows in which what you set out do is what you end up with. Through very fortunate circumstances, like the combination of a good director, a good cast, and other people designing, you all manage to end up at the point that you intended when you started out. Nothing is ever perfect and there are always things that you'd perhaps do differently but I think that as long as you get a sense of fulfillment from a show then it is going to be a good experiences. [Christina Poddubiuk, Set and Costume designer]

Christina Poddubiuk

Act well your part; there all the honor lies.

Alexander Pope Essay on Man, Epistle iv, line 193

Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow

Cole Porter Kiss Me, Kate (musical)

It hath evermore been the notorious badge of prostituted Strumpets and the lewdest Harlots, to ramble abroad to Plays, to Playhouses; whither no honest, chaste or sober Girls or Women, but only branded Whores and infamous Adulteresses, did usually resort in ancient times.

William Prynne

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

A novelist may lose his readers for a few pages; a playwright never dares lose his audience for a minute.

Terence Rattigan


A lot of what acting is paying attention.

Robert Redford

Acting is not being emotional, but being able to express emotion.

Kate Reid
Musical Theatre

In musical theater you have to be very big and very animated, while film and television are more toned down.

Kevin Richardson

The most precious things in speech are pauses.

Ralph Richardson The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

Acting is merely the art of keeping a large group of people from coughing.

Ralph Richardson

Directing takes such a big lump out of your life.

Alan Rickman

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

Acting touches nerves you have absolutely no control over.

Alan Rickman

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

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
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

The theatre, like the fresco, is art fitted to its place. And therefore it is above all else the human art, the living art.

Roman Rolland

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

Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly.

Rosalind Russell The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.

Hank Russo


Good drama must be drastic.

Friedrich Schlegel

Good theater anywhere is good for theater everywhere.

Frank Schneeberger
Management, Volunteers

I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.

Charles Schwab

The Actor should make you forget the existence of author and director, and even forget the actor.

Paul Scofield The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.

Rod Serling

The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature. [Hamlet]

William Shakespeare The Audience Book of Theatre Quotations, by Louis Phillips

People have pointed out evidences of personal feeling in my notices as if they were accusing me of a misdemeanor, not knowing that criticism written without personal feeling is not worth reading. It is the capacity for making good or bad art a personal matter that makes a man a critic.

George Bernard Shaw

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
Musical Theatre

I don't see that many plays, and for me, musicals are rarely pleasing. I feel the actors are being put through a kind of nightmarish labor. They're like animals being forced to pull heavy carts of vegetables at incredible speeds.

Wallace Shawn

I open with a clock striking, to beget an awful attention in the audience -- it also marks the time, which is four o clock in the morning, and saves a description of the rising sun, and a great deal about gilding the eastern hemisphere.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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

I want to make the audience laugh and cry within ten seconds, to show just how close those emotions are.

Neil Simon It Happened On Broadway

Once after Barefoot In the Park had been playing for about a week I went back to see it, watching the audience, which was just falling over laughing except for one guy sitting the aisle. I was transfixed. I said to myself, there seems to be no way to get to him. No one else would I watch except this one man. My wife joined me about 20 minutes later and asked me how it was going, and I said, terrible. I really meant it. There was no way to get to this man. It destroyed me.

Neil Simon Playwrights, Lyricists, Composers On Theater

Actors ought to be larger than life. You come across quite enough ordinary, nondescript people in daily life and I don't see why you should be subjected to them on the stage too.

Donald Sinden

Donors don't give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.

G.T. Smith

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

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



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