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.
- A play is fiction - and fiction is fact distilled into truth.
- If you want to help the American theater, don't be an actress, be an audience.
- [F]rom the late 1580s the Elizabethan theater was full of Turks, Moors, Persians, and Saracens. Between 1579 and 1624, at least 62 plays emerged with Islamic characters, themes or settings. Many of these appear in some of the most influential plays of the period: Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, which includes burning the Koran onstage; Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, with its evil, scheming Moor, Aaron; the noble, melancholic Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice; and of course, Othello. The enduring ambivalence audiences still feel toward the tortured Moor of Venice is a sign of the deliberate ambiguity that Shakespeare and other dramatists exploited in the portrayal of such characters.
- Jerry Brotton, “The First Brexit Was Theological”, The Atlantic, (Sep 13, 2017).
- Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter.
- Gautama Buddha, Samyutta Nikaya 42.2
- If you have a message, call western union.
- Hence turn your looks to the abominations, not less to be deplored, of another kind of spectacle. In the theatres also you will behold what may well cause you grief and shame. It is the tragic buskin which relates in verse the crimes of ancient days. The old horrors of parricide and incest are unfolded in action calculated to express the image of the truth, so that, as the ages pass by, any crime that was formerly committed may not be forgotten. Each generation is reminded by what it hears, that whatever has once been done may be done again. Crimes never die out by the lapse of ages; wickedness is never abolished by process of time; impiety is never buried in oblivion. Things which have now ceased to be actual deeds of vice become examples.
- Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 1 to Donatus, Section 8, translated by Robert Ernest Wallis, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5.
- I feel that peace has hardly been imagined. It is rarely dramatized in the theater, in the movies, even in books.
- 1993 interview in Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston edited by Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin (1998)
- we have to invent new images and ways of power. So far the world thinks of power as violence, that power comes from a gun. We must create a new kind of drama in which there is drama, but it's nonviolent. And this has barely been thought of.
- 1990 interview in Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston edited by Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin (1998)
- I don't like to be my own audience, I find that being my own audience, being in the audience, makes me self-conscious, basically. So I tune in sometimes, with the sound off, to check it out and I back up to it. In the future I will look at it when some time has passed.
- We’re all misfits, I guess, in the theater. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We’d be out building things, selling things, making money, writing letters to the editor, and paying our taxes with the long form. And on that long form all the numbers in all the columns would add up right.
- Say what you like, there is something wonderful about live theater—about any kind of live theater. Professional or amateur, city or boondocks, it makes no difference. The theater turns us into better people, at least for a moment, each time the curtain rises and the houselights dim.
- I love the power of theater. I think it’s an experience you never forget. It’s more powerful than film or television. I know the plays I saw with Al Pacino, American Buffalo, and True West with John Malkovich, I feel like I lived those moments. It becomes a part of your memory and your life in a way that film and TV has a little bit of distance. Also, theater allows you to be much more political; it allows you to be much more who you are. Where did Hamilton happen? It didn’t happen in movies and television, because it couldn’t. “So we’re going to do a historic piece on Hamilton and everyone is going to be black and Latin playing our forefathers.” They would say: “But wait, they didn’t speak hip-hop in the 1700s?” It would’ve never happened! But where did it happen? On Broadway, in the theater.
- John Leguizamo, "John Leguizamo Is Here to Explain Latino History for You", by Patricia Garcia, Vogue, (April 6, 2017)
- Hostility to the theatre is as old as the theatre itself. Plato banished the theatre from his ideal republic. Church fathers from Tertullian to Augustine denounced it. Our colonial ancestors did their best to keep it out of America, and when it arrived, they greeted it with the kind of demonstration they usually reserved for British tax collectors. The Stamp Act riots of 1765 in New York were followed in 1766 by a riot against the attempt of a company of traveling players to open a theatre. In 1783 a rock-flinging crowd stormed into the pit of a newly opened theatre in Philadelphia. During the century that followed, as the theatre gradually won a grudging acceptance in the United States, pulpit and press continued to resound with denunciation, not simply of the kind of plays produced or of the acting, but of the very existence of theatres.
Although these diatribes have been the constant accompaniment of theatrical performances-at least until the present century-most of us associate them with Puritanism. And not without reason. The longest most bitter, and most effective attacks on the theatre came from English Puritans, or at least from Englishmen living in the age of Puritanism. Beginning with a burst of books and pamphlets about 1579, the literature of denunciation reached its culmination in William Prynne's Histrio-mastrix in 1633. Prynne's work, a learned encyclopedia of invective, totaling more than a thousand pages, was culled from two thousand years of writings against the theatre, seasoned by Prynne's own tedious, repetitious, but often forceful arguments.
Prynne lost his ears for his labors, because the king thought the book reflected on the royal taste for theatrical amusements; but Prynne has his way in 1642, when the Long Parliament closed the English theatres. As long as Puritans ran the government, the theatres stayed closed and arguments over them subsided. Playwrights preferred writing plays to defending them, and throughout history, the champions of the theatre have been notably less articulate than its enemies. When the king was restored in 1660, so was the theatre, and the attacks on it resumed, but somehow with less zest. The fin-de-siecle Histrio-mastix was written by Jeremy Collier, a pallid, polite, almost effete opponent, who strove unsuccessfully to match the wit and style of the plays he attacked. The assault never again gathered the force it had developed under the Puritans.
The theatre thus met with the most intense hostility in England during the immediately after the age of the great English dramatists: the age of Marlowe, Johnson, and Shakespeare. Is this a coincidence?
- Edmund S. Morgan, “Puritan Hostility to the Theatre “,Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 110, No. 5 (Oct. 27, 1966), pp. 340-347
- Acting is merely the art of keeping a large number of people from coughing.
- The theater is a great equalizer: it is the only place where the poor can look down on the rich.
- 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 ...
- A playwright is a lay preacher peddling the ideas of his time in popular form.
- We [Christians] renounce all your spectacles, as strongly as we renounce the matters originating them, which we know were conceived of superstition, when we give up the very things which are the basis of their representations. Among us nothing is ever said, or seen, or heard, which has anything in common with the madness of the circus, the immodesty of the theatre, the atrocities of the arena, the useless exercises of the wrestling-ground.
- Tertullian, Apologeticus pro Christianis, Chapter 38
- Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture.
- By increasing the size of the keyhole, today's playwrights are in danger of doing away with the door.
- MARIA: Long live theater...What’s theater?
BERISH: When you do something without doing it, when you say something without saying it, while thinking that you did say, and you did do something—anything—that’s theater.
- Elie Wiesel, The Trial of God (1979), Act I
- 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)
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