Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 28 February 2024

The Theatre 

  1. There's no business like show business.
    Irving Berlin 1888–1989 American songwriter: title of song in Annie Get Your Gun (1946)
  2. Let a single completed action, all in one place, all in one day, keep the theatre packed to the end of your play.
    Nicolas Boileau 1636–1711 French critic and poet: L'Art poétique (1674) canto 3, l. 45
  3. If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.
    Anton Chekhov 1860–1904 Russian dramatist and short-story writer: I. Ya. Gurlyand ‘Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov, in Teatr i iskusstvo 11 July 1904
  4. Damn them! They will not let my play run, but they steal my thunder!
    on hearing his new thunder effects used at a performance of Macbeth, following the withdrawal of one of his own plays after only a short run
    John Dennis 1657–1734 English critic, poet, and dramatist: William S. Walsh A Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities (1893)
  5. Étonne-moi.
    Astonish me.
    to French dramatist and film director Jean Cocteau (1889–1963)
    Sergei Diaghilev 1872–1929 Russian ballet impresario: Wallace Fowlie (ed.) Journals of Jean Cocteau (1956) ch. 1
  6. The famous rules, which the French call Des Trois Unitez, or, the Three Unities, which ought to be observed in every regular play; namely, of Time, Place, and Action.
    John Dryden 1631–1700 English poet, critic, and dramatist: An Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668)
  7. Shaw is like a train. One just speaks the words and sits in one's place. But Shakespeare is like bathing in the sea—one swims where one wants.
    Vivien Leigh 1913–67 English actress: letter from Harold Nicolson to Vita Sackville-West, 1 February 1956
  8. Don't clap too hard—it's a very old building.
    John Osborne 1929–94 English dramatist: The Entertainer (1957) no. 7
  9. The weasel under the cocktail cabinet.
    on being asked what his plays were about
    Harold Pinter 1930–2008 English dramatist: J. Russell Taylor Anger and After (1962)
  10. You've got to perform in a role hundreds of times. In keeping it fresh one can become a large, madly humming, demented refrigerator.
    Ralph Richardson 1902–83 English actor: in Time 21 August 1978
  11. The play-bill, which is said to have announced the tragedy of Hamlet, the character of the Prince of Denmark being left out.
    commonly alluded to as ‘Hamlet without the Prince’
    Sir Walter Scott 1771–1832 Scottish novelist and poet: The Talisman (1825) introduction; W. J. Parke Musical Memories (1830) vol. 1 gives a similar anecdote from 1787
  12. Can this cockpit hold
    The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
    Within this wooden O the very casques
    That did affright the air at Agincourt?
    William Shakespeare 1564–1616 English dramatist: Henry V (1599) chorus, l. 11 (Oxford Standard Authors ed.)
  13. I can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and I can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and I can do you all three concurrent or consecutive, but I can't do you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory—they're all blood, you see.
    Tom Stoppard 1937–  British dramatist: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1967) act 1
  14. I've never much enjoyed going to plays…The unreality of painted people standing on a platform saying things they've said to each other for months is more than I can overlook.
    John Updike 1932–2009 American novelist and short-story writer: George Plimpton (ed.) Writers at Work 4th Series (1977)
  15. We never closed.
    of the Windmill Theatre, London, during the Second World War
    Vivian van Damm c.1889–1960 British theatre manager: Tonight and Every Night (1952) ch. 18
  16. Four trestles, four boards, two actors, a passion.
    all he needed to create a play
    Lope de Vega 1562–1635 Spanish dramatist and poet: attributed; James Fitzmaurice-Kelly Lope de Vega and the Spanish Drama (1902)
  17. It's a sound you can't get in the movies or television…the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live.
    Shelley Winters 1922–2006 American actress: in Theatre Arts June 1956