An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





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 (1896-1948, French theater producer, actor, theorist)


Theater of cruelty means a theater difficult and cruel for myself first of all. And, on the level of performance, it is not the cruelty we can exercise upon each other by hacking at each other's bodies, carving up our personal anatomies, or, like Assyrian emperors, sending parcels of human ears, noses, or neatly detached nostrils through the mail, but the much more terrible and necessary cruelty which things can exercise against us. We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theater has been created to teach us that first of all.


Antonin Artaud (1896-1948, French theater producer, actor, theorist)


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 (1907-1973, Anglo-American poet)


The theatre is a gross art, built in sweeps and over-emphasis. Compromise is its second name.


Enid Bagnold (1889-1981, British novelist, playwright)


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 (1903-1968, American actress)


I submit all my plays to the National Theatre for rejection. To assure myself I am seeing clearly.


Howard Barker


We need a type of theatre which not only releases the feelings, insights and impulses possible within the particular historical field of human relations in which the action takes place, but employs and encourages those thoughts and feelings which help transform the field itself.


Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956, German dramatist, poet)


The primary function of a theater is not to please itself, or even to please its audience. It is to serve talent.


Robert Brustein


Theatergoing is a communal act, movie going a solitary one.


Robert Brustein


For my part, I confess I seldom listen to the players: one has so much to do, in looking about and finding out one's acquaintance, that, really, one has no time to mind the stage. One merely comes to meet one's friends, and show that one's alive.


Fanny Burney (1752-1840, British writer, diarist)


The stage is life, music, beautiful girls, legs, breasts, not talk or intellectualism or dried-up academics.


Harold Clurman


I just love, I love, I love movies.


Laura Dern (1967-, American actress)


The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.


Denis Diderot (1713-1784, French philosopher)


I had learned to have a perfect nausea for the theatre, the continual repetition of the same words and the same gestures, night after night, and the caprices, the way of looking at life, and the entire rigmarole disgusted me.


Isadora Duncan (1878-1927, American dancer)


To save the theatre, the theatre must be destroyed; the actors and actresses must all die of the plague. They poison the air, they make art impossible. It is not drama that they play, but pieces for the theatre. We should return to the Greeks, play in the open air; the drama dies of stalls and boxes and evening dress, and people who come to digest their dinner.


Eleanora Duse


The theatre is the best way of showing the gap between what is said and what is seen to be done, and that is why, ragged and gap-toothed as it is, it has still a far healthier potential than some poorer, abandoned arts.


David Hare (1947-, British playwright, director)


Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have -- by disrupting that order -- a way of surprising.


Vaclav Havel (1936-, Czech playwright, president)


I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.


Vaclav Havel (1936-, Czech playwright, president)


I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.


Vaclav Havel (1936-, Czech playwright, president)


The novel is more of a whisper, whereas the stage is a shout.


Robert Holman


The theater, bringing impersonal masks to life, is only for those who are virile enough to create new life: either as a conflict of passions subtler than those we already know, or as a complete new character.


Alfred Jarry (1873-1907, French playwright, author)


The virtue of dress rehearsals is that they are a free show for a select group of artists and friends of the author, and where for one unique evening the audience is almost expurgated of idiots.


Alfred Jarry (1873-1907, French playwright, author)


The drama's laws, the drama's patrons give, for we that live to please, must please to live.


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784, British author)


I write plays for people who wouldn't be seen dead in the theatre.


Barrie Keeffe


A dramatic experience concerned with the mundane may inform but it cannot release; and one concerned essentially with the aesthetic politics of its creators may divert or anger, but it cannot enlighten.


David Mamet (1947-, American playwright)


Theater people are always pining and agonizing because they're afraid that they'll be forgotten. And in America they're quite right. They will be.


Agnes De Mille (1905-1993, American dancer, choreographer, writer)


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 (1915-, American dramatist)


By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience .  By the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.


Arthur Miller (1915-, American dramatist)


Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute.


John Mortimer (1923-, British barrister, novelist)


The drama's altar isn't on the stage: it is candle-sticked and flowered in the box office. There is the gold, though there be no frankincense or myrrh; and the gospel for the day always The Play will Run for a Year. The Dove of Inspiration, of the desire for inspiration, has flown away from it; and on it's roof, now, the commonplace crow caws candidly.


Sean O'Casey (1884-1964, Irish dramatist)


My playground was the theatre. I'd sit and watch my mother pretend for a living. As a young girl, that's pretty seductive.


Gwyneth Paltrow (1972-, American actress)


The theatre, for all its artifices, depicts life in a sense more truly than history, because the medium has a kindred movement to that of real life, though an artificial setting and form.


George Santayana (1863-1952, American philosopher, poet)


Good drama must be drastic.


Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829, German philosopher, critic, writer)


In a drama of the highest order there is little food for censure or hatred; it teaches rather self-knowledge and self-respect.


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822, British poet)


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 (1751-1816, Anglo-Irish dramatist)


All this class of pleasures inspires me with the same nausea as I feel at the sight of rich plum-cake or sweetmeats; I prefer the driest bread of common life.


Sydney Smith (1771-1845, British writer, clergyman)


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 (1920-, American actress)


In a good play every speech should be as fully flavored as a nut or apple.


J. M. Synge (1871-1909, Irish poet, dramatist)


If a playwright tried to see eye to eye with everybody, he would get the worst case of strabismus since Hannibal lost an eye trying to count his nineteen elephants during a snowstorm while crossing the Alps.


James Thurber (1894-1961, American humorist, illustrator)


A talent for drama is not a talent for writing, but is an ability to articulate human relationships.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


The theater needs continual reminders that there is nothing more debasing than the work of those who do well what is not worth doing at all.


Gore Vidal (1925-, American novelist, critic)


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 (1915-1985, American film maker)


The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.


Oscar Wilde (1856-1900, British author, wit)


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 (1897-1975, American novelist, playwright)


The theatre is supremely fitted to say: "Behold! These things are." Yet most dramatists employ it to say: "This moral truth can be learned from beholding this action."


Thornton Wilder (1897-1975, American novelist, playwright)


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