quotations about theatre

Theatre quote

All theatre is political -- just as all other activities of human beings are political -- because theatre is not autonomous and must thus decide whose interests it serves.



Tags: Frances Babbage

It is Mystery -- the mystery any one man or woman can feel but not understand as the meaning of any event -- or accident -- in any life on earth ... [that] I want to realize in the theatre. The solution, if there ever be any, will probably have to be produced in a test tube and turn out to be discouragingly undramatic.

EUGENE O'NEILL, Eugene O'Neill: Comments on the Drama and the Theater


Tags: Eugene O'Neill

From the start it has been the theatre's business to entertain people ... it needs no other passport than fun.

BERTOLT BRECHT, A Short Organum for the Theatre


Tags: Bertolt Brecht

There are lots of young vital playwrights who are experimenting, and these are the plays that people who are interested in the theatre should see. They should go off Broadway. They should go to the cafe theatres and see the experiments that are being made.

EDWARD ALBEE, WNBC TV interview, January 9, 1966


The drama is not dead but liveth, and contains the germs of better things.

WILLIAM ARCHER, About the Theatre


Tags: William Archer

Theatre is not and should not be a literary form of expression. A theatrical celebration can take place anywhere: out of doors, in a garage, in a stable. The problem with avant-garde theatre today is that it is absolutely intellectual. You have to be cerebrally inclined to understand what is going on.

JEROME SAVARY, attributed, Experimental Theatre


Tags: Jerome Savary

I think theater ought to be theatrical ... you know, shuffling the pack in different ways so that it's -- there's always some kind of ambush involved in the experience. You're being ambushed by an unexpected word, or by an elephant falling out of the cupboard, whatever it is.

TOM STOPPARD, interview, March 10, 1999


Tags: Tom Stoppard

The color, the grace and levitation, the structural pattern in motion, the quick interplay of live beings, suspended like fitful lightning in a cloud, these things are the play, not words on paper, nor thoughts and ideas of an author, those shabby things snatched off basement counters at Gimbel's.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, afterword, Camino Real


Tags: Tennessee Williams

The art of theatrical story-telling is necessarily relative to the audience to whom the story is to be told. One must assume an audience of a certain status and characteristics before one can rationally discuss the best methods of appealing to its intelligence and its sympathies.

WILLIAM ARCHER, Play-making: A Manual of Craftsmanship


From the viewpoint of analytic psychology, the theatre, aside from any aesthetic value, may be considered as an institution for the treatment of the mass complex.

CARL JUNG, Psychology of the Unconscious


Tags: Carl Jung

The fixation of the theater in one language--written words, music, lights, noises--betokens its imminent ruin.

ANTONIN ARTAUD, preface, The Theater and Its Double


The theater's much the most difficult kind of writing for me, the most naked kind, you're so entirely restricted.... I find myself stuck with these characters who are either sitting or standing, and they've either got to walk out of a door, or come in through a door, and that's about all they can do.

HAROLD PINTER, interview, The Paris Review, fall 1966


Tags: Harold Pinter

The theater is the only branch of art much cared for by people of wealth; like canasta, it does away with the bother of talk after dinner.

MARY MCCARTHY, Up the Ladder from Charm to Vogue


Tags: Mary McCarthy

Theatre supposes lives that are poor and agitated, a people searching in dreams for a refuge from thought. If we were happier and freer we should not feel hungry for theatre.... A people that is happy and free has need of festivities more than of theatres; it will always see in itself the finest spectacle.

ROMAIN ROLLAND, The People's Theatre


What I have always found most beautiful in the theatre, in my childhood, and still today, is lustre--a beautiful object, luminous, crystalline, complex, circular, symmetrical. However, I do not absolutely deny the value of dramatic literature. Only, I should like the actors to be mounted on high pattens, to wear masks more expressive than the human face, and to speak through megaphones.



Tags: Charles Baudelaire

The condition of the theater is always an accurate measure of the cultural health of a nation. A play always exists in the present tense (if it is a valuable one), and its music -- its special noise -- is always contemporary. The most valuable function of the theater as an art form is to tell us who we are, and the health of the theater is determined by how much of that we want to know.

EDWARD ALBEE, "The Decade of Engagement"


A stage play ought to be the point of intersection between the visible and invisible worlds, or, in other words, the display, the manifestation of the hidden.

ARTHUR ADAMOV, La Parodie, L'Invasion


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Like all magic cultures expressed by appropriate hieroglyphs, the true theater has its shadows too, and, of all languages and all arts, the theater is the only one left whose shadows have shattered their limitations.

ANTONIN ARTAUD, preface, The Theater and Its Double


Questions about political theatre always overlook America's most powerful and effective political theatre, which is always thriving: the American musical. The politics is conservative but, to my mind, effective and insidious.

JOHN LAHR, "Questions for John Lahr", The New Yorker, January 23, 2009


Tags: John Lahr

With a play, when the curtain goes up and people are in garbage cans, I know I may admire the idea cerebrally, but it won't mean as much to me. I've seen Beckett, along with many lesser avant-gardists, and many contemporary plays, and I can say yes, that's clever and deep but I don't really care. But when I watch Chekhov or O'Neill--where it's men and women in human, classic crises--that I like.

WOODY ALLEN, The Paris Review, fall 1995


Tags: Woody Allen