101 Theater Quotes For Budding Young Dramatists

Moumita Dutta
Dec 12, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Feb 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Movie Theater with blank screen

Theater and drama is an art form that has been going on for centuries all around the world.

History has shown us that great playwrights lived in ancient Greece and early India. Each country and age in the world had its own mode of expression and theatrics in place.

At first glance, drama might seem nothing but entertainment. However, this is not so every time.

It is one of the most 'human' art forms where with your acting and script you can take a philosophical or political stance and move them. All of this is done in front of them, making it a more immersive and difficult process. If this sounds like your world, read on for more quotes about theater.

If you like this article, you may also want to read quotes about acting and [dancing quotes].

Famous Theater Quotes

Here are some great theater quotes regarding theater from famous personalities that many people may find inspiring.

1. "Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place."

- Martha Graham.

2. "The word theater comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation. The theater is a spiritual and social x-ray of its time."

- Stella Adler, 'New York Times', December 1992.

3. "Movies will make you famous; television will make you rich, but theater will make you good."

- Terrence Mann.

4. "I regard the theater 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.

5. "Theater is a sacred space for actors. You are responsible; you are in the driving-seat."

- Greta Scacchi.

6. "If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue."

- William Shakespeare, 'As You Like It'.

7. "Drama is exposure; it is confrontation; it is contradiction and it leads to analysis, construction, recognition, and eventually to an awakening of understanding."

- Peter Brook.

8. "We do not go to the theater like our ancestors, to escape from the pressure of reality, so much as to confirm our experience of it."

- Charles Lamb.

9. "The theater, when all is said and done, is not life in miniature, but life enormously magnified, life hideously exaggerated. "

- H. L. Mencken.

10. "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts..."

- William Shakespeare, 'As You Like It'.

11. "I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone."

-Arthur Miller.

12. "I come from the theater, my bones are in the theater; it's as natural as breathing to want to be in the theater. I want to carry on making films and television – that's just part of who I am."

- Kenneth Branagh.

13. "Theater demands different muscles and different aspects of one's personality."

- Victor Garber.

14. "Theater takes place all the time - wherever one is - and art simply facilitates persuading one this is the case."

- John Cage.

15. "To enter a theater for a performance is to be inducted into a magical space, to be ushered into the sacred arena of the imagination."

- Simon Callow.

16. "We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else."

- Tom Stoppard.

17. "Of course we all come to the theater with baggage. The baggage of our daily lives, the baggage of our problems, the baggage of our tragedies, the baggage of being tired."

- Vanessa Redgrave.

18. "There is a kind of classlessness in the theater. The rehearsal pianist, the head carpenter, the stage manager, the star of the show-all are family."

- John Kander.

19. "The theater 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."

- Tennessee Williams.

20. "No emotion ever made, or ever will make, a good play if we do not know what kind of forces set emotion going. Emotion, to be sure, is as necessary to a play as barking to a dog."

- Lajos Egri.

21. "If you want more people to come to the theater, don't put the prices at £50. You have to make theater inclusive, and at the moment the prices are exclusive. Putting TV stars in plays just to get people in is wrong. You have to have the right people in the right parts."

- Catherine Tate.

22. "Where a theater and its acting are merely 'good,' merely 'correct,' merely 'in the proper style,' theater dies a slow death."

– Robert Cohen.

23. "The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."

- Arthur Miller.

24." Acting is a sport. On stage, you must be ready to move like a tennis player on his toes. Your concentration must be keen, your reflexes sharp; your body and mind are in top gear, the chase is on. Acting is energy. In the theater, people pay to see energy."

- Clive Swift.

25. "The theater was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation."

- Stella Adler, 'Theater and Aging', 2009.

Inspirational Quotes From Famous Theater Personalities

Classical ballet performed by a couple of ballet dancers on the stage of the opera house.

Theater personalities have a lot to say about the art form. Theater, it could be argued, was created to tell people the truth about life and the social intricacies we all inhabit and forms the most immediate bond that human beings can share. Do not think theater will make you rich. Here are some of their famous quotes.

26. "You just have to be open and ready, and let it all happen."

- Angela Lansbury.

27. "I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture."

- Sir Laurence Olivier.

28. "With theater, you have to be ready for anything."

- Willem Dafoe.

29. "Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it."

- Bertolt Brecht.

30. "The role of the artist is to ask questions, not to answer them."

- Anton Chekhov.

31. "Playwriting gets into your blood and you can't stop it. At least not until the producers or the public tell you to."

- T.S. Elliot.

32. "Working in the theater has a lot in common with unemployment."

- Arthur Gingold.

33. "In the theater, we reach out and touch the past through literature, history and memory so that we might receive and relive significant and relevant human qualities in the present and then pass them on to future generations."

- Anne Bogart.

34. "On the stage, it is always now: the personages are standing on that razor-edge, between the past and the future, which is the essential character of conscious being; the words are rising to their lips in immediate spontaneity."

- Thornton Wilder.

35. "Theater is the art form of the present: it exists only in the present, and then it's gone."

- Simon McBurney.

36. "The theater is certainly a place for learning about the brevity of human glory: oh all those wonderful glittering absolutely vanished pantomime."

- Iris Murdoch.

37. "I think the theater is as essential to civilization as safe, pure water."

- Vanessa Redgrave.

38. "Theater is, of course, a reflection of life. Maybe we have to improve life before we can hope to improve theater."

- William Ralph Inge.

39. "Unless you learn how to be in your head, you'll never learn how to create."

- Lin-Manuel Miranda.

40. "I'm really very sorry for you all, but it's an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances."

- W.S. Gilbert.

41. "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.

42. "Life is a theater set in which there are but few practicable entrances."

- Victor Hugo.

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

- Samuel Johnson.

44. "Great theater is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasize about a world we aspire to."

- Willem Dafoe.

45. "You should feel a flow of joy because you are alive. Your body will feel full of life. That is what you must give from the stage. Your life. No less. That is art: to give all you have."

- Anton Chekhov.

46. "I have never regarded any theater as much more than the conclusion to a dinner or the prelude to a supper."

- Max Beerbohm.

47. "The dramatist's function is 1. To earn a living for his family and himself, and 2. To try to entertain people for a few hours."

- Lee Adams.

48. "You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul."

- George Bernard Shaw.

49. "Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art."

- Constantin Stanislavski, 'My Life In Art', 1924.

50. "All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed."

- Sean O'Casey.

Awesome Theater Quotes Related To The Stage

Here are some stage-related quotes for students of theater,

51. "A good drama critic is one who perceives what is happening in the theater of his time. A great drama critic also perceives what is not happening."

- Kenneth Tynan.

52. "It doesn't matter what age you are. But if our hearts get opened and released - well that is what theater can do, and does sometimes, and everyone is thankful when that happens."

- Vanessa Redgrave.

53. "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.

54. "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.

55. "Theater, in which actors take on changing roles, has among its many functions the examination of identity. For the individual, theater is a kind of identity laboratory in which social roles can be examined vicariously."

- Richard Hornby.

56. "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.

57. "The stage is a magic circle where only the most real things happen, a neutral territory outside the jurisdiction of Fate where stars may be crossed with impunity."

- P. S. Baber.

58. "From the start is has been the theater's business to entertain people. It needs no other passport than fun."

- Bertolt Brecht.

59. "It is a lazy public which promotes a slothful and irresponsible theater."

- Edward Albee.

60. "Theater is a series of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."

- Tom Stoppard.

61. "All the best performers bring to their role something more, something different than what the author put on paper. That's what makes theater live. That's why it persists."

- Stephen Sondheim.

62. "You need three things in the theater - the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something."

- Kenneth Haigh.

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

– Denis Diderot.

64. "The theater, 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.

65. "It's one of the tragic ironies of the theater that only one man in it can count on steady work - the night watchman."

- Tallulah Bankhead.

66. "There is only one necessary condition for the emergence of a new theater, that the stage and auditorium should be open to the masses, should be able to contain a people and the actions of a people."

- Romain Rolland.

67. "Theater is a mirror, a sharp reflection of society."

- Yasmina Reza.

68. "Theater can transform a child's life, just as an early cultural experience whether with opera, ballet, music or art is a wonderful thing because it opens the door to a life-long experience, a life-long enjoyment."

- Michael Morpurgo.

69. "A theater, a literature, an artistic expression that does not speak for its own time has no relevance."

- Dario Fo.

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

- Carl Jung.

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

- Enid Bagnold.

72. "The play is not in the words, it's in you!"

- Stella Adler.

73. "The theater is an attack on mankind carried on by magic: to victimize an audience every night, to make them laugh and cry and suffer and miss their trains."

- Iris Murdoch.

74. "A stage space has two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) Something must happen."

- Peter Brook.

75. "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.

The Most Famous Amazing Musical Theater Quotes

Musical theater takes normal theater to the next level. Here are some great musical theatrical quotes.

76. "If you see the wonder of a fairy tale you can take the future even if you fail."

- Sophie, 'Mamma Mia!'.

77. "Make believe you're brave and the trick will take you far. You may be as brave as you make believe you are!"

- Anna, 'The King And I'.

78. "Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow till you find your dream."

- Mother Abbess, 'The Sound Of Music'.

79. "People always learning, all through their lives."

- Christmas Eve, 'Avenue Q'.

80. "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!"

- Les Misérables.

81. "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad!"

- Maria, 'The Sound Of Music'.

82. "Everyone deserves the chance to fly, and if I'm flying solo at least I'm flying free."

- Elphaba, 'Wicked'.

83. "Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now."

– Eliza, 'Hamilton'.

84. "You've gotta go after the things you want while you're still in your prime."

- Kate Monster, 'Avenue Q'.

85. "Love doesn't discriminate

Between the sinners

And the saints

It takes and it takes and it takes

And we keep loving anyway."

- Burr, 'Hamilton'.

86. "Dream up a dream, make it come true. Man made an airplane and it flew!"

- Miss Stacey, 'Anne of Green Gables'.

87. "We could have been anything that we wanted to be, and it's not too late to change."

- 'Bugsy Malone'.

88. "Stretch your mind beyond fantastic. Dreams are made of strong elastic!"

- Mary Poppins, 'Mary Poppins'.

89. "A person's a person no matter how small."

- Horton the Elephant, 'Seussical'.

90. "Who cares what they're wearing on Main Street or Saville Row. It's what you wear from ear to ear and not from head to toe that matters!"

- Burt Healey, 'Annie'.

The Greatest Drama Quotes For Theater Students

Drama moves us from within. The list below focuses on some hard-hitting drama-based quotes.

91. "In all the universe nothing remains permanent and unchanged but the spirit."

- Anton Chekhov, 'The Seagull', 1895.

92. "The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh."

- Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting For Godot', 1952.

93. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

- William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1603.

94." Martha: Truth or illusion, George; you don't know the difference.

George: No, but we must carry on as though we did.

Martha: Amen."

- Edward Albee, 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', 1962.

95. "I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And if that's sinful, then let me be damned for it!"

- Tennessee Williams, 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 1947.

96. "The past is the present, isn't it? It's the future, too. We all try to lie out of that but life won't let us."

- Eugene O'Neill, 'Long Day's Journey Into Night', 1956.

97. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more."

- William Shakespeare, 'Macbeth', 1606.

98. "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his."

- Oscar Wilde, 'The Importance Of Being Earnest', 1895.

99. "You have never loved me. You have only thought it pleasant to be in love with me."

- Henrik Ibsen, 'A Doll's House', 1879.

100. "If you can't appreciate what you've got, you'd better get what you can appreciate."

- George Bernard Shaw, 'Pygmalion', 1913.

101. "Maggie, we're through with lies and liars in this house. Lock the door."

- Tennessee Williams, 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof', 1955.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for theater quotes then why not take a look at Shakespeare love quotes, or [Tennessee Williams quotes]?

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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