Posts Tagged ‘Women of Wisdom’

My Daily Brain-Food Addiction

Brain Food

About a year ago I began posting a daily quote on Twitter, selected from my eclectic collection and using the hashtags  #TheatricalIntelligence or #WomanofWisdom: 

#TheatricalIntelligence: “I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” Meryl Streep

#WomanofWisdom: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” Maya Angelou  

My Twitter followers enjoyed the quotes. (Some even suggested that I publish them in a “little book series”. Go figure.) Then six months ago on this blog, I shared a series of quotations in categories:  Actors on Acting, A Life in the Arts, On Critics, Criticism and Reading Reviews, among others. 

The tricky part on Twitter, of course, is that one post = 140 characters including the hashtag. So I found myself scavenging for more and more inspiring quotes that were short.

#TheatricalIntelligence: “What I love about theatre is that it disappears as it happens.” Lusia Strus (= 104) 

#WomanOfWisdom: “I believe the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” Hilary Clinton (= 124)

Then LinkedIn mimicked Twitter’s hashtag idea, and their posts can be longer so my quotes g-r-e-w, as did their hashtags:

#TheatricalNostalgia, #TheatricalWonder, #TheatricalWisdom, #ArtisticWisdom, #LiteraryWisdom, #WorthConsidering, #WorthRemembering, #LetsDoThis and #PoliticalPoetry. Yikes.

Daily posting became addictive. I began to feel like my friends who never miss the daily NYTimes crossword puzzle, or others who are deeply committed to “Words With Friends” or (what I take to be its visual equivalent) “Candy Crush”

My daily brain food, I’ve concluded, works for me because the words have such meaning when they’re strung together, that I remember them.  I simply love each one of them because they inspire me.   


Is this addiction a terrible thing? How long will it take me to kick the habit? Do I HAVE to? Help!

Words. Words. Words: Playwrights On Playwrighting

Thanks, Theatrical Intelligence readers, for your responses to Words. Words. Words: 10 Beloved Quotations.
Your comments on Twitter, Facebook, and here on the blog (those I love the most!) have been the catalyst for this second round.  So, I hereby launch an ongoing series of theatrical quotations from my collection.

Jean KerrJean Kerr (July 10, 1922 – January 5, 2003)

”I think if you can write a play, or produce a play, the first step toward success [is] if people don’t want to kill themselves in the lobby. Now there must be four or five other steps, but that’s the first.”


Suzan-Lori ParksSuzan-Lori Parks (Born May 10, 1963)

“People ask me when I decided to become a playwright; I tell them I decide to do it every day. Most days it’s very hard because I’m frightened — not frightened of writing a bad play, although that happens often with me. I’m frightened of encountering the wilderness of my own spirit, which is always, no matter how many plays I write, a new and uncharted place. Every day when I sit down to write, I can’t remember how it’s done.”


Wendy by Retna LtdWendy Wasserstein (October 18, 1950 – January 30, 2006)

“The trick… is to find the balance between the bright colors of humor and the serious issues of identity, self-loathing, and the possibility for intimacy and love when it seems no longer possible or, sadder yet, no longer necessary.”


 Tina HoweTina Howe (Born November 21, 1937)

“…the cruel part is that, to let the play live, you have to surrender control and let your characters go. You have to let them stumble, fall into walls and be mute, let them drift and be lost. If you hold the reins too tight, they won’t spring to life.”


Kushner-ReutersTony Kushner (Born July 16, 1956)

“I love reading; it’s a great way to avoid writing.” 


Katori-Hall-Playbill-VaultKatori Hall (Born May 10, 1981)

“I’ve had frank conversations with theaters who say, ‘We love your play, but we’ve already done a play by another black person this year,’ or ‘I don’t think the kind of people you write about are the ones our audience wants to see’…  Up and coming young black female writers are still struggling to have their voices heard and have their plays produced.”


Theresa Rebeck by Sara KrulwichTheresa Rebeck  (Born Feb 19, 1958)

“Plays written by women are not being produced.  In 2007, the one year I opened a play on Broadway*, I was the only woman playwright who did so.  That year, nationwide, 12 per cent of the new plays produced all over the country were by women. That means 88 percent of the new plays produced were written by men. (Back in 1918 before women had the right to vote, the percentage of new plays in New York, written by women, was higher.  It was higher before we had the vote.) Generally, over the last 25 years the number of plays produced that were written by women seems to have vacillated between 12 and 17 percent. This is a disastrous statistic…”

*Rebeck’s plays SEMINAR and DEAD ACCOUNTS opened on Broadway in 2011 and 2012, respectively. 


la–ca–0909–lynn–nottage          Lynn Nottage (Born 1964)           

“I feel it’s my social responsibility to shine a light on areas that don’t get seen. My personal feeling is that it’s an artist’s responsibility to be engaged with the culture. And when the culture is going through turmoil, I think an artist can’t ignore that. I don’t feel that every artist has to be politically engaged, but I can’t imagine that you can be an active participant of this culture and not in some way reflect that in the work you are creating.”


Hansberry by CorbisLorraine Hansberry (May 19, 1930 – January 12, 1965)

“Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.”


 Hellman Sam Falk-The NYTimesLillian Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984)

“If I had to give young writers advice, I’d say don’t listen to writers talk about writing.”


Selecting from my quotations collection for this post, I found myself  drawn to the playwrights above. I admire each one of them for having the courage to find the way to “say it like it is” in a personal and distinctive voice. BRAVO, PLAYWRIGHTS.

Next up: ACTORS

Hall: Playbill Vault
Hansberry: Corbis 
Hellman: Sam Falk/The New York Times
Howe: New York University
Kerr: Playbill Vault
Kushner: Reuters
Nottage: Al Seid/Los Angeles Times
Parks: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Rebeck: Sara Krulwich/The NewYork Times
Wasserstein: Retna, LTD


Woman Of Wisdom: A Ritual

In January my husband and I prepared to move for the first time in 37 years. We had to reduce the size of our library to fit into a smaller space, and deciding which books to keep became a crazy-making endeavor for me. There were hundreds of books I couldn’t bear to let go.

Day after day I thumbed through pages that once introduced me to worlds unknown. My gushing tears seemed disproportionate to the activity, as did my frantic scribbles of words I somehow had to hold close to me.

Just as I thought I might actually be losing my mind, it struck me that I was simply doing something I’d loved since I was a child: collecting meaningful quotes I never wanted to forget.

This simple act unintentionally launched a ritual that now brings joy to my daily routine: once a day I post a beloved quote on Twitter. Most of the quotes I collected were – no surprise to me – from women, so using the ubiquitous Twitter hashtag, I label each #WomanOfWisdom.

A sampler of wisdom selected from the past 30 days is listed below:

#WomanOfWisdom Maya Angelou: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

#WomanOfWisdom Emily Dickinson: “They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.” (1878)

#WomanOfWisdom Bella Abzug: “I prefer the word ‘homemaker’ because ‘housewife’ always implies that there may be a wife someplace else.”

#WomanOfWisdom Lena Horne: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

#WomanOfWisdom Madeleine l’Engle: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

#WomanOfWisdom Rebecca West: “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that distinguish me from a doormat.” (1913)

#WomanOfWisdom Zora Neale Hurston: “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

#WomanOfWisdom Ellen Parr: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

#WomanOfWisdom Emma Goldman: “Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open.”

#WomanOfWisdom Wilma Mankiller: “I’ve run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.”

#WomanOfWisdom Shana Alexander: “The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.”

#WomanOfWisdom Sarah Bernhardt: “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”

#WomanOfWisdom Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

#WomanOfWisdom Indira Gandhi: “You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”

#WomanOfWisdom Abigail Adams: “We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.”

This ritual has eased the process of giving away my books. Over the past three months I’ve donated boxes and boxes to schools, libraries, bookshops, Materials for the Arts, and to my children and grandchildren of course.

A little piece of each book will be with me forever. And my hope is that the books will touch the hearts and minds and spirits of many who might not otherwise have been exposed to them. I love thinking about that.

How long do you suppose it will take to run out of wisdom?

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