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 First Last Sourcesort descending
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
Backstage, Management

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

Chinese Proverb
Acting

All the theories that acting is reacting to imaginary circumstances as though they are real, and directing is turning psychology into behavior, those are all stabs at something that can't be taught. All the great actors can't talk about what they do, and they don't want to begin to talk about it. They just do it.

Mike Nichols
General, Playwriting

Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute.

John Mortimer
General

The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose -- and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.

John F Kennedy
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
Acting, Directing

The whole point about laughter is it's like mercury: you can't catch it, you can't catch what motivates it - that's why it's funny.

Mike Nichols
Playwriting

Good drama must be drastic.

Friedrich Schlegel
Backstage

Perhaps, therefore, ideal stage managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds.

Peter Hall
Acting

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

Elaine Stritch
Acting, Directing

I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.

Orson Welles
Acting, Directing, General

It is not theatre that is indispensable, but something quite different. To cross the frontiers between you and me.

Jerzy Grotowski
Playwriting

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.

Alfred Hitchcock
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
Acting

Audiences are not strangers to me. They're the best friends I've got in my life.

Elaine Stritch
Playwriting

A dramatist is one who believes that the pure event, an action involving human beings, is more arresting than any comment that can be made upon it.

Thornton Wilder
Acting

Acting is experience with something sweet behind it.

Humphrey Bogart
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
General, Playwriting

I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.

David Mamet
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

Every now and then, when you're on stage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live.

Shelley Winters
Acting

One of the things about acting is it allows you to live other people's lives without having to pay the price. I've never been one of those actors who has touted myself as a fascinating human being. I had to decide early on whether I was to be an actor or a personality.

Robert De Niro
Volunteers

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

Ken Wyman
Acting

A lot of what acting is paying attention.

Robert Redford
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
Acting

Acting is not about dressing up. Acting is about stripping bare. The whole essence of learning lines is to forget them so you can make them sound like you thought of them that instant.

Glenda Jackson
General

The theater has to impose itself on the public, and not the public on the theater... The word "Art" should be written everywhere, in the auditorium and in the dressing rooms, before the word "Business" gets written there.

Federico Garcia Lorca
Fundraising

If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them.

Jeff Brooks
Acting, Directing

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

Constantin Stanislavski
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 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
General

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
General

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
General

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

Oscar Hammerstein
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

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

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
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
Acting

Acting is the most personal of our crafts. The make-up of a human being - his physical, mental and emotional habits - influence his acting to a much greater extent than commonly recognized.

Lee Strasberg
Acting

Acting expresses a part of the self otherwise hidden to the conscious mind.

Lisa M. O'Neill
Acting

A great actor is independent of the poet, because the supreme essence of feeling does not reside in prose or in verse, but in the accent with which it is delivered.

Lee Strasberg
Playwriting

Remember! the word is playwright --W-R-I-G-H-T -- like wheelwright. A play is not so much written as wrought. it's designed and built and shaped; it's carved out.

Garson Kanin
Acting

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

Stella Adler
Acting

The actor creates with his own flesh and blood all those things which all the arts try in some way to describe.

Lee Strasberg
Acting

Actors are the only honest hypocrites.

William Hazlitt
Acting

Talent is an amalgam of high sensitivity; easy vulnerability; high sensory equipment (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting intensely); a vivid imagination as well as a grip on reality; the desire to communicate one's own experience and sensations, to make one's self heard and seen.

Uta Hagen
Acting

Actors cannot choose the manner in which they are born. Consequently, it is the one gesture in their lives completely devoid of self-consciousness.

Helen Hayes
Acting, Directing, General, Playwriting

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

Voltaire
General

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

Voltaire
General, Playwriting

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

Oscar Wilde
Acting

Actors work and slave and it is the color of your hair that can determine your fate in the end.

Helen Hayes
Directing, Shakespeare

The play loses a great deal of its meaning if it is robbed of a magic which springs, not from the glittering tip of a department-store wand, but from the earth, the stones, the very air of the wood; and a magic which is not merely pretty but dark and dangerous. [said of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Tyrone Guthrie
Acting

Acting is a matter of giving away secrets.

Ellen Barkin
Acting

The worst constructed play is a Bach fugue when compared to life.

Helen Hayes
General

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

Unknown
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

I'm a bad liar; I don't know what to say backstage.

Uta Hagen
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

The secret of staying fresh in a show is to remember that the audience you're playing for that night has never seen it before.

Danny Kaye

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