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Theatre (Greek "theatron"), enjoys the distinction of two spellings: in British English, "theatre" and in American English, "theater". There is no technical distinction between the meanings of the two spellings, however most theatre artists prefer the English spelling because it creates a historical nod to the ancient Greek term theatron. Some also use the American spelling to designate a theatre building and the English term to reference the art itself, as in the "art of theatre." Theatre is that branch of the performing arts concerned with the creation of stories or narratives for (or with) an audience using combinations of acting, speech, gesture, music, dance, object manipulation, sound and spectacle — indeed, any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, musicals, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera, mummers' plays, and pantomime.


  • By increasing the size of the keyhole, today's playwrights are in danger of doing away with the door.
    • Peter Ustinov, Christian Science Monitor, (1962) - reported in Colin Jarman (1993). The Book of Poisonous Quotes. McGraw-Hill Professional, p. 104. ISBN 0809236818.
  • The theatre is a place where one has time for the problems of people to whom one would show the door if they came to one's office for a job.
    • Quoted in "Tennessee Williams" in Profiles (1990) by Kenneth Tynan (first published as a magazine article in February 1956)

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. JOHANN GUSTAV VON GOETHE

  • Art is first of all an act of destruction. It is the lie that tells the truth.
  • Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice.
  • …to be an artist is to fail as no other dare fail…Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
  • I believe that an artist is nothing other than a receptacle of grace, the tool of a higher force, a force which is not to be found outside ourselves but which governs us from within and compels us to serve.
  • Do not just invent something, but make something out of reality.
  • I trust in inspiration, which sometimes comes and sometimes doesn’t. But I don’t sit back waiting for it. I work every day.
  • It’s OK to steal, just never steal from yourself.
  • The soul desires to dwell with the body because without the members of the body it can neither act nor feel.
  • We do not possess memory, our entire body is memory.
  • Because you have a body you don’t need transitions.
  • Move the mind a hundred percent and move the body seventy percent
    • Zeami
  • We feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, and afraid because we run.
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
  • Non-action does not mean doing nothing and keeping silent. Let everything be allowed to do what it naturally does, so that its nature will be satisfied
  • No Manifesto No to spectacle no to virtuosity no to transformations and magic and make believe no to glamour and transcendency of the star image no to

the heroic no to the anti-heroic no to trash imagery no to involvement of performer or spectator no to style no to camp no to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer no to eccentricity no to moving or being moved.

  • If you’ve got a crush on the theatre or a great desire, be wary. You have to need to be an actor.

If it’s just a desire, a want, a love- that’s not enough. You have to need.

    • Sir Derek Jacobi
  • Any time an actor thinks he is merely exercising or training his muscles, he is cheating himself. These are acting disciplines. Every instant of every discipline, the actor must be expressing the emotion of some situation.
  • The actor must become an acrobat of the heart.
  • … and it’s not a metaphor.
    • WENDELL BEAVERS (in response to Artaud)
  • Freshness, beauty, a pleasant broad face, red lips, beautiful teeth, a neck round as a bracelet, beautifully formed hands,

graceful build, powerful hips, charm, grace, dignity, nobility, pride, not to speak of a quality of talent.

    • Demands for the Actor in Ancient India
  • The process of being a performer is ecstasy.
  • What we usually call “developing one’s talent” is often nothing more than freeing it from influences.
  • Ceremonies are the outward expression of inward feeling.
    • Lao Tzu
  • Theatre is a weapon. For that reason it must be fought for.
  • Nothing in theatre has any meaning before or after. Meaning is now.
  • The purpose of art is to prepare us for death.
  • The theater is a humble materialist enterprise which seeks to produce riches of the imagination, not the other way around. The theater is an event, not an object. Theatre workers need not blush and conceal their desperate struggle to pay the landlords their rents. Theater without the stink of art.
  • The theatre is traditionally where people go to hear the truth.
  • This is the poetry we are seeking, corroded as if by acid, by the labors of man’s hand, pervaded by sweat and smoke, reeking of urine and of lilies soiled by diverse professions in and outside the law.
  • Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.
  • Unless an actor is satisfied to be a parrot or a monkey he must master our period's knowledge of human social life by himself joining the war of the classes.
  • No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful. But afterward there will be quite a harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a path for your feet. Then those who follow you will not stumble and fall, but will become strong.
    • Hebrews 12:11-13
  • A play is fiction - and fiction is fact distilled into truth.
    • Edward Albee, reported in James Beasley Simpson (1998). Simpson's contemporary quotations: The Most Notable Quotes Since 1950. Houghton Mifflin, p. 398. ISBN 0395430852.
  • If you want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, be an audience.
  • If you have a message, call western union.
    • The earliest known print attribution is to Moss Hart in Van Wert (Ohio) Times Bulletin (26 August 1954) as cited in Fred Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations (2006). Widely attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, but denied by his biographer, A. Scott Berg, in Goldwyn: A Biography (1998).
  • The theater is a great equalizer: it is the only place where the poor can look down on the rich.
  • A playwright is a lay preacher peddling the ideas of his time in popular form.
  • Acting is merely the art of keeping a large number of people from coughing.
    • Ralph Richardson, reported in Ashton Applewhite; Tripp Evans, Andrew Frothingham (2003). And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker. Macmillan, p. 283. ISBN 0312307446.
  • Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture.
    • Spencer Tracy, reported in Ashton Applewhite; Tripp Evans, Andrew Frothingham (2003). And I Quote: The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the Contemporary Speechmaker. Macmillan, p. 283. ISBN 0312307446.

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