Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

Words. Words. Words: 10 Beloved Quotations

I began collecting quotations during my high school days. These words are not all related to the theatre, but they’re all theatrical!  

1. “All the world’s a stage, and most of us are desperately under-rehearsed.”  

Sean O’Casey  (March 30, 1880 – September 18, 1964) 

Sean O'Casey


2. “I got my start by giving myself a start.” Madame C.J. Walker

 Born Sarah Breedlove  (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919)

Madame C.J. Walker

Madame C.J. Walker









3. “The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place.”

Stella Adler (February 10, 1901 – December 21, 1992)

Stella Adler

Stella Adler










4. “A whisper can be stronger, as an atom is stronger, than a whole mountain.” 

Louise Nevelson (September 23, 1899 – April 17, 1988)

Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson









5. “If you give an audience a chance they will do half your acting for you.” 

Katharine Hepburn (May 12, 1907 – June 29, 2003)

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn









6. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” 

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967)

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker










7. “Theatergoing is a communal act, movie going a solitary one.” 

Robert Brustein (Born April 21, 1927)

Robert Brustein

Robert Brustein









8. “Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.”

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston









9. “The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.” 

Arthur Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)

Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller









10.We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” 

George Bernard Shaw (July 26, 1856 – November 2, 1950) 

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw










Photo Credits:
O’Casey: The Irish News; Adler: John Chiasson-Liaison/Getty Images; Bernhardt: Paul Nadar; Nevelson: Pedro E. Guerrero; Hepburn: Hooked On Houses; Brustein: Berkshire Fine Arts; Hurston: The Poetry Foundation; Miller: Associated Press; Shaw: Magazin Gracija. 

Falling In Love With A Theatre

This article is revised from our Studio Newsletter archives in honor of World Theatre Day.

World Theatre Day

What makes someone fall in love with a theatre? I asked a bunch of theatrical colleagues to name a theatre that they love and say why they love it. Here are some responses:

“There are so many! But the one that comes to mind is THE GUTHRIE when it was being built and I was going to be playing Hamlet in the inaugural production. Tony [Tyrone Guthrie] and I walked into what felt like Yankee Stadium and I was terrified. How was I going to fill that space? Then when we walked down onto the stage, suddenly it was only half as big, and I did manage to fill it; over the years it was as if I was playing a dearly beloved instrument.” George Grizzard, Actor

“GLYNDEBOURNE, the famous Opera House in England. My husband and I had a private tour, and I stood on the stage alone and sang into the empty theater. The acoustics were incredible – I got the chills hearing my voice ring out like that… it sparked my imagination!”
 Melora Hardin, Actress

“THE MUSIC BOX, on Broadway. It’s a theatre of reasonable size and seating capacity, yet it manages to feel intimate. Rounded boxes flanking the proscenium are a particularly pleasing feature. It is a theatre that really helps the director.”
  Ed Sherin, Director

“IL TEATRO PIU’ TEATRO PICCOLO DEL MONDO (“the smallest theater in the world”) in Umbria. What a gem! It was built in the early 1800s by the families of Monte Castello di Vibio who wanted a place for social gatherings. The mindset at the time was of concordia tra i popoli (concordance between the populations) so the theatre was named Teatro Concordia. It is a space with perfect proportions; a space where you can feel the history of elegant and probably melodramatic performances in that tiny town.” Marianna Houston, Theatre Educator

“I love various parts of many Broadway theatres: the Tiffany stained glass fixtures and wood paneling of the BELASCO THEATRE; the inner lobby of the MAJESTIC and its grand house; the ingenious combination of new and old to combine two theatres into one dazzling space as the HILTON THEATRE [ed: now the FOXWOODS]. And I want to add another gem of a building Off-Broadway, the WESTSIDE THEATRE’s building, lobby and interiors are remarkably beautiful.” Bob Reilly, Company Manager

“THE VIGSZINHAS (Vigszínház) THEATRE in Budapest, Hungary – a magnificent 19th-century horseshoe shaped house with four or five balcony tiers. The stagehouse was completely re-built, and the stage is so deep – it covers a whole city block – with the loading door smack in the middle. For Six Characters In Search of an Author the city agreed to close off the street to traffic every night one half hour before the performance, so the audience saw the cast enter from the city beyond. That 19th century magic was made possible by the 21st century rehab.”
 Peter Frisch, Director

“THE BARTER THEATRE in Abingdon Virginia because it’s where I fell in love with my husband of 50 years! Barter inherited the seats and the curtain from the old EMPIRE THEATRE on Broadway, which gave it a certain mystique, and by the way, probably fostered more romances than any other theatre in America!”
 Diane Hardin, Acting Teacher/Coach

“I love lots and lots of theatres. At the moment I love the McCARTER in Princeton because Emily Mann and everyone there is so wonderful and willing to do anything I ask.” Eugene Lee, Scenic Designer

What is YOUR favorite theatre? Please share it!



My spam folder was full this morning (neglected by me over the holidays) and just as I was about to delete the ubiquitous penile enhancement posts, I was tickled to see a couple of messages from Santa…

 “Your article really did turn the light on for me personally as far as this specific subject matter goes.” Signed: Santa Claus Calls

“In the grand scheme of things you actually get an A for effort and hard work. For right now I shall subscribe to your position.” Signed: SClauswerks

 Santa’s style sure reflects his spirit, unlike the other 98%:

“I was wondering how to cure acne naturally, and then I found your blog.” Signed: Rickets (Yuck!)


“1st, you wish a 3-season sleeping bag with the casket and the semi-rectangular style; the added amore due to the abridgement of autogenous space.” Signed “Polo Outlet Online”. 

(WHY NOT “Casket Sleeping Bags”?) Go figure.

Asian language spam is on the rise: 


And… *blush*… I actually used Google Translate: “Even though a little higher at the surface that could hurt excessive force to account for, and the effect of hair care reached three times greater risk of burden.” Signed: Luxury-Brand-something. 

OK – enough! But then I saw one of Santa’s comments that seemed rather sleep-deprived, or even delusional:

“I like this information and it has given me some sort of desire to succeed for some reason.”

Unless… d’you suppose Santa struggles with self-esteem,  just like the rest of us?

Guess I’ll check my Santa-Spam next December.

And now… (She presses DELETE.) On with 2013.


Illustration: 123RF (Royalty Free) Stock Photos


Holiday Greetings from Theatrical Intelligence

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yuletide, or any other Holiday, may it be filled with abundant creativity and joy! 

























Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a Theatrical New Year!

Theatrical Lingo

Theatrical lingo, much like theatrical logic, works sort of like a secret code. “BREAK A LEG” in theatre jargon, for instance, means “Good Luck!” The term refers to the “break or bend of the leg” while taking a bow or curtsy. It’s as if the felicitation says “Great success tonight, with many curtain calls!”

A few favorite examples of this imaginative (sometimes loony) lingo are listed below:

Frank Rich and I share a laugh...

GHOST LIGHT: Theatrical superstition says that if an empty theatre is left completely dark, a ghost will take up residence. That’s the reason a single ghost light is left burning center stage in every theatre in America, after everyone has gone home. I’ve often wondered if the light is to keep the ghosts out, or to welcome them in. Probably both.

The light also serves as a practical safety measure in case someone wanders near the edge of the stage without knowing that an orchestra pit looms below, awaiting their potentially hazardous fall.

The fact that I cherish most about ghost lights, however, is that each one is carefully crafted by a stagehand. And like snowflakes, no two are alike. 

Frank Rich’s memoir, Ghost Light, is required reading for anyone serious about the theatre. (Is it necessary to disclose that Mr. Rich modeled the definitions of Writer and Critic for me decades ago? Well, anyway, he did. And he continues to inspire me with his Theatrical Intelligence in our changing world.)  He and I had a good laugh recently on the stage of Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre (see photo above): the usual clear filament bulb had been exchanged for a CFL – a compact fluorescent, or “green” bulb!  Less traditional perhaps, but a good superstition is hard to kill.

GEORGE SPELVIN: A fictitious theatrical name. Actors use this pseudonym to remain anonymous or to avoid their name appearing twice in the program if they’re playing more than one role. Sometimes the name is used when a character mentioned in the text never appears onstage; by crediting the role to “George (or Giorgio, Georgina, Georgette) Spelvin”, the audience isn’t tipped off that the character never shows up. Occasionally Actors Equity members working under a Non-Union contract (alas!) use the name to avoid penalties associated with Non-Union work.

VOMITORY: In a thrust or arena theatre, a vomitory is a ramped or stepped tunnel, giving performers access to the stage from beneath the seating area (see photo, right, of Arena Stage in Washington, DC). The term probably originated from the days of Roman amphitheatres, when those who were thrown to the lions managed to escape to tunnels under the arena, vomiting along the way. (Gross enough for you?)

Arena Stage's Fichandler © Nic Lehoux

Theatrical lingo includes hundreds of colorful terms, and just as many off-color ones. Please share your favorite in the Comment section above.

If you’re the first to come up with one I’ve never heard of, you’ll be my guest at a Broadway show!


Words Frozen Until Spring? (It’s All In The Timing)

I am in bed with pneumonia, taking an unplanned vacation from my life during a New York City blizzard.

With impeccable timing, a friend posted a quote on Facebook from Plutarch, which appealed to my pneumonia-induced-thinking:

Frozen“Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time [they] thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.”

These ancient words make me think that pneumonia might not be so bad. As long as I don’t die from it. (Thank you, O science-world, for antibiotics!)

Yes, the pneumonia has jiggled my system; it has rendered reality ridiculous; it has produced middle-of-the-night-hallucinatory-conversations with long forgotten relationships. Weird. Scary. Kinda like drugs in the 60’s. (Though I was never a druggie, my friends always got a kick out of the fact that my vicarious high made me seem more stoned than anyone in the room.)

Which brings me back to the frozen words. I am staring at the 2011 calendar, on which “one month plus” of bed rest has been prescribed by my doctor. In pneumonia-zone, time is slower than the clock by far. So it is comforting that my thoughts and words might freeze for a while – it seems perfect, in fact – that they are frozen as we are snowbound in the city.

Come spring, when I am ready to venture back into the world, my words will have melted. And I will be ready to hear them.

A Childhood State-Of-Mind (Or) The Power of Blizzards

What is it about blizzards? That they’re so mind-bogglingly dramatic? That they surprise us even though we know they’re coming? I mean who isn’t talking about “the blizzard of the century” this week?

Growing up in New Hampshire, I faced real danger in snowstorms and pulled off highways numerous times to wait out hazardous conditions. During one such wait many years ago I found myself wearing a giddy grin and giggling. What was the matter with me?! My goofy state did not indicate a grasp of reality. In fact, I was fully cognizant, it’s just that blizzards make me feel as if I’m 6 years old.

When a snowstorm hits, some mysterious force takes hold and I’m flooded with memories: jumping off the roof of my childhood home into huge powdery snowbanks; building snow forts that rivaled castles in my mind; making snow angels and praying that the dogs wouldn’t… y’know. Those memories stimulate fantasies that range from prehistoric cave dwellings to trekking cross country in a covered wagon to – you name it. To me, snowstorms mean that anything is possible.

This week’s blizzard unleashed word inventions such as “blizzicane” and “snowmageddon”; blizzards can be a catalyst-for-craziness. Proof? My snapshot of a dear friend leaping barefoot through snowdrifts in a completely transparent negligee.

What a gift is a blizzard! If we choose to embrace it, it has the capacity to release the genius that is hiding in all of us. In this way it is similar to Theatrical Intelligence. Whether your dominant role (or mine) is Actor or Technician, I am confident that our gut responses to blizzards are worthy of our attention.

Why? It is revealing to capture that place in ourselves that’s willing to leap into unexplored terrain. That core of our being is often ignored in favor of our more practical parts. Finding it can be fun; sometimes even transformational. And you don’t have to have grown up with snowstorms to experience their phenomenon.

Next time a big blizzard is forecast, what the hell? Get ready for an emotional adventure – hidden worlds are waiting for you and your imagination to discover them.

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