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Shakespeare's Little Instruction Book



Optimism: Well, spring isn't everything, is it, Essie? There's a lot to be said for autumn. That's got beauty, too. And winter -- if you're together -- Father to Mother in Eugene O'Neill's only comedy Ah, Wilderness! The play thought by many O'Neill fans and scholars to be the idealized family, a sort of pipe dream (a la the dreamers in The Iceman Cometh which O'Neill needed as a launch for his later and much darker family portraits (Moon for the Misbegotten and Long Day's Journey Into the Night. Both Ah, Wilderness and LongDay's Journey Into Night were revived twice during the 1998 seaon and reviews of all four productions are in our archives. It's also worth noting that a movie version of the idealized Miller family of Wilderness seeded a movie (Summer Holiday ) starring Mickey Rooney, who later also played Andy Hardy. Playwright John Guare called both the Hardy and the Aldrich families (remember Henry Aldrich?) theinheritors of O'Neill's Miller family

Evil/Goodness: I know you're no worse than most men but I thought you were better. I never saw you as a man. I saw you as my father—Chris, who like his fallen brother Larry, thinks his father should have realized the men fighting World War II were "all his sons."— Chis Keller in All My Sons

Mistakes: little man makes a mistake and they hang him By the thumbs; the big ones become ambassadors
--Joe Keller in Act 2 of Arthur Miller's 1947 play, All My Sons.During its 1996 season, the Williamstown Theatre Festival revived this 50-year-old play in tandem with the American premiere of The Run Down Mt. Morgan. It resonated powerfully with both critics and audiences. Another, All My Sons came to Broadway in Spring 1997.

Responsibility: Once and for all you must know that there's a universe of people outside, and you're responsible to it. --Chris Keller (to his mother) in Act 3 of All My Sons Unfortunately, Chris' eloquent plea still falls on many a deaf ear and the current examples of greed-above-all, make Joe Keller's knowingly selling defective plane engine pistons to the Army during World War II, all too timely.

Awareness: I should have known
I could have known
I didn't know - - Albert Speer, the title character in Albert Speer

Goodness: Goodness is nothing in the furnace of art -- Antonio Salieri the man who was once good but without the goodness to be a great composer --played by David (Hercules Poirot) Suchet in Amadeus .

Death: Death is such an old disease. >The Doctor in. All Over revived at the Roundabout

Personal Traits: I am a vulgar man — but my music is not. Randy Harrison as Mozart in Berkshire Theatre Revival of Amadeus

Action: . . Just one thing, Bob. Action counts. (Pause.) Action talks and bullshit walks --Don inAmerican Buffalo

City Life. The air feels thick and dense, as if the buildings breathe and steal away the oxygen./As my father used to say, living in the city is like living inside the mouth of a crocodile, buildings all around you like teeth. The teeth of culture, the mouth and tongue of civilization.---Juan Julian, the lector in Anna In the Tropics.

Soldiers: There are only two sorts of soldiers: old ones and young ones. . .you can tell the young ones by their wildness and dashing. The old ones come bunched up under the number one guard; they know that they're mere projectiles and that it's no use trying to fight.--Bluntschli, Act 1, George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man

Image, Personal:You are not the person you were born? Who wonderful is?>--Alexa Vere de Veer, in As Bees In Honey Drown. Alexa is the over-the-top self-inventedcelebrity in Douglas Carter Beane's 1997 comedic look at the quest for fame and its accompanying perks. Her volley of one-liners may not quite match Oscar Wilde's quips but they did add a fine dash to the 1996-97 Off-Broadway season

Fame: Fame without achievement is the safest bet I know.---Alexa Vere de Veer, As Bees In Honey Drown. The many pronouncements by the anti-heroine of Douglas Carter Beane's 1997 comedy could almost fill a small book.

Life's Turning Points: There are no big moments you can reach unless you've a pile of smaller moments to stand on. That big hour of decision, the turning point in your life, the someday you've counted on when you'd suddenly wipe out your past mistakes, do the work you'd never done, think the way you'd never thought, have what you'd never had--it just doesn't come suddenly. You've trained yourself for it while you waited--or you've let it all run past you. --General Benjamin Griggs, in Act 3 of Lillian Hellman's 1951 drama, The Autumn Garden. The playwright's own life was interesting enough to be the subject of a play--and indeed became just that in Cakewalk.

Personal Responsibility: It's easy to say we should all be loving and sweet, but meanwhile we're enjoying a certain way of life -- and we're actually living--due to the existence of certain other people who are willing to take the job of killing on their own backs ---Lemon in Wallace Shawn's Aunt Dan and Lemon in a revival from the New Group.

Togetherness: There's a fine fine line/Between together and not/There's a fine fine line/Between what you wanted and what you got...---Kate in song from the new musical Avenue Q which opened Off-Broadway, extended three times and will will move to Broadway in July 2003. Life's Meaning: We don't want life printed on dollar bills!
---Ralph in Lincoln Center's revival of
Awake and Sing!
honoring Cliffor Odets' 100th birthday.

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Imagination: Nobody likes to be chained to the wall by somebody else's imagination -- F. Nietzsche via R. Foreman in Bad Boy Nietzsche

* Beauty: Oh, it's no use. She's so beautiful, and I'm... Well, look at me!—the Beast in Beauty and the Beast.

Thinking: I'm afraid I've been thinking —Gaston
A dangerous pastime—Lefou.
Beauty and the Beast

Interactions: Why don't you kill yourself? Why don't you kill yourself? — B     I have thought of it. . . I am not unhappy enough. — A
From Rough For Theatre I— part of Beckett Shorts at NYTheatre Workshop

Mothers and Daughters: I have a dream sometimes there of you, dressed all nice and white, in your coffin there, and me all in black looking in on you, and a fella beside me there comforting me, his arm around my waist --Maureen to her gross, dominating mother, Mag in Martin McDonagh's dark and comic drama, The Beauty Queen of Leenane about a mother and daughter locked in a relationship that is doomed to go from bad to worse. Set as it is in a dreary village where gossip and grudges are the only entertainment available or as Pato, Maureen's one and only hope for romance and escape declares You can't kick a cow in Leenane without some bastard holding a grudge twenty years. 
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Politicians: Men without faces tend to get elected President, and power or responsibility or honor fill in the features, usually pretty well --William Russell in Gore Vidals's The Best Man, Act 2, scene 3. A fairly nondescript vice-president now viewed as one of our best presidents, perhaps best illustrates this line towards the end of Vidal's 1960 play.

Politics. Political conventions today are not what they used to be. There was a time when politics was played openly on the convention floor for the elucidation, delight, and occasionally dismay of the American People. --Walter Cronkite's voiceover was a new touch added to a 2000 season revival re-titled Gore Vidal's The Best Man>

Life: 35 years spent sleeping, 5 years going to the bathroom and 8950 minutes blinking your eyes -- David Cale, giving a 17-year-old's droll view of life passing by quick as a wink in the monologue "Wink Wink" from Betwixt Will Power: I'm like a girl in a summertime canoe. I can't say No -- Marcus Hoff in Clifford Odets' 1949 play (1955 movie) The Big Knife, revived at the Williamstown Theatre Festival during the summer '98 season (our review). Hoff, a ruthless Hollywood producer, is adding another financial sweetner to a long-term contract the main character, an actor, does not want to sign.

People, Types: There are two kinds of people in one's life—people whom one keeps waiting—and the people for whom one waits — Feydak in S. N. Behrman's Biography

Charisma: There are two kinds of people in one's life—people whom one keeps waiting—and the people for whom one waits— Feydak about Marion Froude, the heroine of S. N. Behrman's Biograpy.

Memoir writing: One can never be sure what made certain memories so acute. It's like recalling a landscape without color, a kind of color-blindness of memory— Marion Froude, the heroine of S. N. Behrman's Biograpy.

Memoir Writing: After you've written your biography what else could there possibly be left for you to do? Marion Froude, the heroine of S. N. Behrman's Biograpy. But, unlike the vain actor who sees his inclusion in her memoir as a way of achieving immortality, she's realistic when she tells him "I think immortality is an over-rated commodity. "

Life:. Life isn't a drawing room.— Richard Kurt in S. N. Behrman's Biography

Passion:Careless rapture at this stage would be incongruous and embarassing.— Ruth, explaining the more settled aspects of the second marriage of previously married couples like her and Charles in Blithe Spirit

Control. The subtext is: "I can‘t control my love of the grape,
but I can control you."
---Donny, explaining 12-steppers to Liz in The Book of Liz

Stress. Yes, this shall be our party. And we must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie. --Anna in Boston Marriage

Life: Ah, life is such a grand design--spring, summer, fall, winter, death. Whoever could have thought it up?
--Michael, one of the gay men in Mart Crowley's 1988 The Boys in the Band, which enjoyed a well-received revival at the Lucille Lortel Theater during the fall '96 season.

Moral Values: It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit --Charles in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, Act 1, scene 1. According to Coward's friend, lover and literary executor, this is one of the three most frequently revived Coward plays. The line remained intact in Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray's musical adaptation of the play, High Spirits (Revived at the Berkshire Theater Festival, summer '98--.our review).

Change. The 60's didn't do it. Gandhi didn't do it. Malcolm X didn't do it. Acid didn't do it.And shockingly enough, apathy hasn't worked up to now.
---Brian Dykstra on the modern world's resistance to change in Brian Dykstra: Cornered & Alone. . . .

Opera Queens. I'm not an Opera Queen, Burton. I've seen opera queens, and believe me, I rank no higher than lady-in-waiting. --Larry in Burn This.
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Happiness:We ave no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it
--Morell, in Candida,Act 1. Morell, a clergyman who owes much of his success to his wife Candida. ile the tradition of marriage generally, and the clergyman's in particular is upheld, it's not done on the basis of the conventional wisdom of the day, but in terms of a commitment free of self-delusion. This 1894 "pleasant play" (a Shaw term) has enjoyed many revivals.

Marriage: Larochefoucauld said that there are convenient marriages but no delightful ones.--Candida,Act 1, scene 3 -- revived at the Pearl Theatre 9/14/98-10/11/98

Mendacity: Self-Reflection: Doing laundry underground / for thirty dollars every week. . . / And I am mean and strong and tough but . . . / Thirty dollars ain't enough.----a plaintive song from 39-year-old Caroline, who's raised three children from the meager earnings of a go-nowhere job as a maid in the South on the cusp of the civil rights movement, in Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori's musical collaboration Caroline, or Change extended twice, to 2/01//04.

Love.People talk about love when what they mean is closer to a hideous insidious itch
---Mac Wellman, author of Cat's Paw, at the Soho Rep

Love. My love herewith does not depend on how you treat me.
. . . Love alone does not yield love.
-- from Cartas: a nun in love.

Success: Love can be had any day! Success is much harder.— Mrs St Maugham in the Donmar Warehouse revival of The Chalk Garden

Life:Life is tit for tat.
--Matron "Mama" Morton,in Chicago which makes music out of greed and corruption. This line comes from "When You're Good to Mama".Lest her tit-for-tat view of life isn't perfectly clear, Mama elaborates with "there's a lot of favors I'm prepared to do/you do one for mama/and I'll be good to you." A torrent of musicals arrived on Broadway in April 1997 but none enjoyed Chicago's critical or box office success.

Monday--it's inevitability:Monday.What other day works so hard at reminding you not to get your hopes up 'cause it's gonna be coming around again real soon?" ----Stone, a private eye (the movie cast), Act 1, scene 2 in the multi-layered, Tony-award winning 1989 musical City of Angels (book, Larry Gelbart; music,Cy Coleman; lyrics, David Zippel). Stone comes back to his view of Monday as an unhappy day at the beginning of Act 1, scene 11: "If there really is someplace called Hell, the calendar's nothing but Mondays"
James Naughton who played Stone in the original production  played Billy Flynn  in the successful revival of Chicago

Life: Life isn't clean. . .it's like a good joke— Matilde, the housekeeper in Sarah Ruhl's The Clean Housewho is more interested in finding the perfect joke and grew up thinking that if the floor was dirty, you should just look at the ceiling.

Oppression: We will wrench her teeth out like a toothless whore. We will make a nun out of her yet -- "The toothless whore" is Ireland. The speaker, Sir Charles Sturman, one of Oliver Cromwell's men during the period from 1551 to 1553 when massacres and forced relocations were the law of the land -- and the setting for a fine play with frighteningly contemporary undertones, The Clearing 

Past:We arrive with our baggage. . .they have none. ..then, just as you're relaxing. . .Great Big Juggernaut arrives with their baggage. It got held up! --Anna (Natasha Richardson) summing up the war of the sexes in Partrick Marber's dark, x-rated comedy of mannersCloser.

UnderstandingOthers:What we know of other people
Is only our memory of the moments
During which we knew them
--Unidentified Guest, Act 1, scene 3 in T. S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party. According to the author when the moment that enables you to know another person passes, that person is in effect dead for you. And if you consider Eliot's long poem The Waste Land an unlikely vehicle for the stage, the English actress Fiona Shaw managed to bring it off for a short run at the Liberty Theater in 1996. It was the shortest-in-length offering, with a 35 minute running time (that adds up to $1 a minute).

Posterity: No man wants to be forgotten --- Ty Cobb, via Lee Blessing Cobb

History: History knocks at a thousand gates at every moment, and the gatekeeper is chance. It takes wit and courage to make our way, while our way is making us, with no consolation to count on but art and the summer lighting of personal happiness. . . Our meaning is in how we live in an imperfect world, in our time. We have no other.
— Alexander Herzen inin the conclusion of Tom Stoppard's trilogy Salvage. from The Coast of Utopia

Alcoholics Alcoholics are mostly disappointed men.—Doc Delaney in Come Back, Little Sheba

Public Taste, Intelligence:Maybe that's all any of us do -- Adam, a young writer who'd like to raise the level of this ultimate in dumbed down TV.
The interchange is from Alan Ayckbourn's satirical farce Comic Potential having its American premiere at Manhattan

Women's happiness. She eats well, sleeps well, dresses well and she's losing weight. No woman can be unhappy in those circumstances.--Lynn Redgrave's Mrs. Culver, explaining why she thinks an adulterous husband is no cause to break up a marriage in the Roundabout revival of The Constant Wife (posted 6/17/05)

Who is she?--Michael (Boyd Gaines)
Someone who likes to dance-- the bartender in a swing club (Jason Antoon) where everyone except Michael is a spectacular dancer, especially the girl in the yellow dress who helps to transform the man who stumbles unhappily through life to one who comes alive and makes contact-- as in the groundbreaking all-recorded, dance musical,Contact

Comedy: I think Geffin Price has got that notion that comedy is an ice pick to pierce the frozen tundra of the heart. ---Trevor Griffiths, paraphrasing a quote from Kafka's notebooks in NYTimes article about Comedians.

Crime and Punishment

>Insults: You're he most boring man in Ireland, and there's plenty of competition --Mammy to her son Johnnypanteenmike in Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan which arrived at the Public Theater in April 1998 after a successful London run (our review. Johnnypanteenmike is not only hilariously boring but so bored with having to take care of his crusty old mammy that he regularly disobeys doctor's orders and encourages her taste for whiskey in hopes that it will do her in. When the Doctor threatens to make him look at his mother's liver after she dies, Johnnypanteenmike declares: I can barely look at the outside of mammy now so I wouldn't look at her inside when she's dead.
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Preparedness: I wouldn't insult you with a rehearsed show -- Dame Edna Everage of Dame Edna: The Royal Tour -- whose triumphant reign at the Booth Theater in 2000 owed much of its success to its convincing sense of improv -- but is of course a carefully crafted routine by Dame Edna's alter ego, Barry Humphries. The show went on to a national tour.

Relationships: He doesn't and he can't really care for me. You stand before him. His real caring goes to you. Me he only wants sometimes. --the title character of D.H. Lawrence's 1911 play The Daughter In Law confronting her husband's powerful mother.

Tragedy: Tragedy is when a few people sink to the level of where most people always are.
Langley the artistic but infantile brother in Richard Greenberg's play about the Collyer Brothers, The Dazzle.

Soul:His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end upon all the living and the dead --James Joyce's, concluding sentence of his novella, The Dead. It's not easy to translate such internalized poetry into a musical, but in James Joyce's The Dead Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey have made a very creditable attempt.

Life: Life is essentially a very large brillo pad.>— T. Ryder Smith in Dead Man's Cell Phone

Self Image: Even if you've always been that/ Barely-in-the-background kind of guy/You still matter— Dear Evan Hansen

Smiles. You must not smile so! Listen, no one is allowed to smile that way to anyone! ---Aschenbach, portrayed by Giles Havergal in a highly praised adaptation of Thomas Mann's Death In Venice .

Dignity: He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an olddog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person--- Linda Loman, Act 1, Death of a Salesman This much quoted speech was first spoken on stage 50 years ago and returned to Broadway for a 50th anniversary revival (our review)

Political Legacies: Willy Brandt's legacy is precisely one of perpetual two-sidedness.
---Brandt's third wife quoted in the program of Michael Frayn's new play, Democracy, a hit in London and Broadway bound.

Democracy. Let me tell you what I've learned from bitter experience about democracy. The more of it you dare the tighter the grip you have to keep on it
--- Herber Wehner played by the excellent Robert Prosky in Democracy (Posted 12/02/04)

Employers/Employees: I put thirty-four years into this firm., Howard, and now I can't pay my insurance! You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away--a man is not a piece of fruit!--Willy Loaman the central character in Arthur Miller's Pulitzer prize winning Death of a Salesman, Act 2. Willy is worn out and tired and no longer able to deal with being on the road in a sales climate in which his kind of salesman has become a dinosaur. Our current climate of downsizing has made the plight of the Willy Lomans of this world painfully timely. Not surprisingly, the 8/31 Op-Ed's page of the Sunday The New York Times dedicated to the overall question of "What's Ahead for Working Men and Women" included the above quote in a sidebar titled "Old Saws, Sharpened."

Dreams: I wanna be read, loved, memorized. I wanna be a poem that changes lives. -- Suheir Hammad one of the poets of Def Poetry Jam

Happiness: Do we dislike happiness? We manufacture such a portion of our own despair --Agnes in Edward Albee's Pulitzer prize winning A Delicate Balance, Act 3.

Theater: Our theater doesn't exist any more. They're all revivals, and then they revive the revivals -- Diana in Neil Simon's much revived hotel plays newly anthologized as Hotel Suite

Independence: If I'm ever to reach any understanding of myelf and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone. That's why I can't stay here with you any longer --Nora, in Henrick Ibsen'sA Doll's House, Act 3. The play which has become something of an all-too familiar feminist tract, was given a dynamic and sexually charged new interpretation by Janet McTeer and Owen Teale during the 1996-97 Broadway season. The production, (our review: A Doll's House) which was a hit in England nabbed four Tony awards in New York--for best revival-actor-actress-director.

Relationships. You spend your entire life with someone and it turns out that person, the one person you completely entrusted your fate to, is an impostor?! --Karen
But it can't be as simple as that. It never is --Gabe The "happily" married pair is part of the foursome at the center of Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize winning marital comedy, Dinner With Friends

Obsession: Obsession grants the patience to really fine tune the details -- from Dirty Blonde a play which has fine tuned the subject of obsession.

Blondes:I made myself platinum but I was born a dirty blonde -- Mae West who's the most flamboyant of three dirty blondes involved inDirty Blonde, the other two being Jo, a Mae West fan and Claudia Shear, the author who plays both Mae and Jo.

Doubt. Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty.
--- Father Flynn in Doubt (Posted 11/23/04)

Memory: Memory's like a policeman. Never there when you want it --Norman in Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, Act 1.Harwood's play Taking Sides enjoyed a successful October to end of 1996 run at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. It starred Ed Harris and Daniel Massey. Check out our review

Hypocrisy:You can do anything you want as long as you don't call it what it is-- Jeffrey, a Hollywood producer to Robert, a writer, in Craig Lucas' cynical 1998 play The Dying Gaul. In a narrative passage Robert explains that the Gaul statue was erected by the victorious Romans as a monument to the fallen dead of the enemy; a seemingly beautiful gesture of remembrance, and--just maybe--the physical embodiment of Jeffrey's credo. our review.

Preparedness: I wouldn't insult you with a rehearsed show -- Dame Edna Everage ofDame Edna: The Royal Tour -- whose triumphant reig at the Booth Theater in 2000 owed much of its success to its convincing sense of improv -- but is of course a carefully crafted routine by Dame Edna's alter ego, Barry Humphries. The show went on to a national tour.

Soul: His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end upon all the living and the dead --James Joyce's, concluding sentence of his novella, The Dead. It's not easy to translate such internalized poetry into a musical, but in James Joyce's The Dead Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey have made a very creditable attempt.

Dignity: He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an olddog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person--- Linda Loman, Act 1, Death of a Salesman. This much quoted speech was first spoken on stage 50 years ago and returned to Broadway for a 50th anniversary revival (our review)

Employers/Employees: I put thirty-four years into this firm., Howard, and now I can't pay my insurance! You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away--a man is not a piece of fruit!--Willy Loman the central character in Arthur Miller's Pulitzer prize winning Death of a Salesman, Act 2. Willy is worn out and tired and no longer able to deal with being on the road in a sales climate in which his kind of salesman has become a dinosaur. Our current climate of downsizing has made the plight of the Willy Lomans of this world painfully timely. Not surprisingly, the 8/31 Op-Ed's page of the Sunday The New York Times dedicated to the overall question of "What's Ahead for Working Men and Women" included the above quote in a sidebar titled "Old Saws, Sharpened."

Patriotism: I'm still looking for a good clean fight --- Lt.Colonel Littlefield
You dumb son of a bitch. There's no such thing ---Margaret Littlefield
in a scene from John Patrick Shanley's Defiance

No matter what, here in America we have freedom to say what we want, be what we want, to decide what happens in our country. We even get to decide what happens in other people's countries. There's no other place like it.
Happiness: Do we dislike happiness? We manufacture such a portion of our own despair. . .--Agnes in Edward Albee's Pulitzer prize winning A Delicate Balance, Act 3.

Theater: Our theater doesn't exist any more. They're all revivals, and then they revive the revivals -- Diana in Diana and Sidney in a revival of Neil Simon''s much revived hotel plays newly anthologized as Hotel Suite

Independence: If I'm ever to reach any understanding of myelf and the things around me, I must learn to stand alone. That's why I can't stay here with you any longer --Nora, in Henrick Ibsen's A Doll's House, Act 3. The play which has become something of an all-too familiar feminist tract, was given a dynamic and sexually charged new interpretation by Janet McTeer and Owen Teale during the 1996-97 Broadway season. The production, (our review: A Doll's House) which was a hit in England nabbed four Tony awards in New York--for best revival-actor-actress-director.

Life: You spend your entire life with someone and it turns out that person, the one person you completely entrusted your fate to, is an impostor?! --Karen
But it can't be as simple as that. It never is --Gabe The "happily" married pair is part of the foursome at the center of Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize winning marital comedy, Dinner With Friends

Obsession: Obsession grants the patience to really fine tune the details -- from Dirty Blonde a play which has fine tuned the subject of obsession.

Blondes:I made myself platinum but I was born a dirty blonde -- Mae West who's the most flamboyant of three dirty blondes involved in Dirty Blonde, the other two being Jo, a Mae West fan and Claudia Shear, the author who plays both Mae and Jo.

Memory: Memory's like a policeman. Never there when you want it --Norman in Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, Act 1.Harwood's play Taking Sides enjoyed a successful October to end of 1996 run at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. It starred Ed Harris and Daniel Massey. Check out our review

Death. I know death hath ten thousand several doors
For men to take their exits --- the Duchess in London's modern dress revival of The Duchess of Malfi

Musicals Everything always works out in musicals. In the real world nothing ever works out and the only people who burst into song are the hopelessly deranged.
--- Man in the Chair, the narrator and heart and soul of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Work: I did not like my work, but I did it...All day long, every day, day after day. And I would feel. . ..lucky. Lucky to have some place to go every day. But why? Why did I want so little? Where did I learn to want so little for myself? —Boo-Seng , a Korean-American in Julia Cho's play Durango.

>Hypocrisy: You can do anything you want as long as you don't call it what it is-- Jeffrey, a Hollywood producer to Robert, a writer, in Craig Lucas' cynical 1998 play The Dying Gaul. In a narrative passage Robert explains that the Gaul statue was erected by the victorious Romans as a monument to the fallen dead of the enemy; a seemingly beautiful gesture of remembrance, and--just maybe--the physical embodiment of Jeffrey's credo. our review.
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Political evils: The blacklist was a time of evil. No one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides. Failure felt very much like success.
Sylvia Plath, via Paul Alexander in Edge

Music: As long as man can believe in music, I'll believe in the future of mankind. --Albert Einstein, Einstein, A Stage Portrait.

Death: He who fears not death can fear no threats --Count de Gormas in Pierre Corneille's much-studied, rarely performed classic El Cid, Act 2, scene 2.

Credibility: Ain't a man's talkin' big what makes him big-long as he makes folks believe it? ---- Emperor Brutus Jones in London revival of Eugene O'Neill's Emperor Jones which coincides with Broadway revival of A Touch of the Poet War: If we don't get this war started soon we're going to be competing with the NBA playoffs. ---Cove (a parody of Karl Rove) in Embedded

Life, Preparation: One prepares, is good, and is rewarded. I didn't know how quickly things change. That one must keep an eye on what one is preparing for, in case it no longer even exists. ---Lotty in Enchanted April

Work: My work is a matter of fundamental sounds (no joke intended) made as fully as possible, and I accept responsibility for nothing else. If people want to have headaches among the overtones, let them. And provide their own aspirin.
---Samuel Beckett, quoted in review of Endgame at BAM   Love: I'll be your mamma. I need to be loved. I shall be so ashamed in the morning.>---Kath to her sexy lodger Mr. Sloane, in Entertaining Mr. Sloane revived at the Roundabout until May 21st.
Doctors: If you ever want to feel ill--just go and spend a happy half-hour in a doctor's waiting room. If you're not ill when you get there, you will be when you leave --Ernie in Alan Ayckbourn's one-act play Ernie's Incredible Illucinations..

Passion: Passion,can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created
— Dysart— dysart in Equus

>Rules: Bending the rules was all I had. A tongue licking after a taste of life I'd never had. I felt it like a power. . ..I thought I was supposed to love one man, three children and then a cavity opens up in my chest. Love like that takes many prisoners. Love like that don't care about good -- And it don't care about danger -- Ruby McCollum, the tragic central character in Act 2 of Thulani Davis' compelling fact-based drama,Everybody's Ruby
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Poets. It's not easy to be a poet and yet I sing. . . We sing ---Dilbert Tibbs, a philosopher-poet, one of the six falsely incarcerated whose stories make up The Exonerated.

Greatness: I will be remembered as a great physician and you, Roget, as a man who made lists--Thomas Armstrong to fellow physician Peter Mark Roget who is dismayed at his disregard of ethics in the interest of scientific curiosity in Shelagh Stephenson's new play An Experiment With An Air Pump back to the top
Television: It's {television| gonna change everything, it's gonna end ignorance and misunderstanding, it's gonna end illiteracy. It's going to end war.— David Sarnoff,— in The Farnsworth Invention

Political Life: You're twenty-five. There's so many other things you could do besides this horseshit. Think about it. You make it to the White House. You do your four years, if you last that long, and then what? You get off the train every morning at Farragut North and trudge to some onsulting firm with all the other political has-beens. Next thing you know you're forty, the fifty, so many races under your belt you can't remember which you won and which you lost..— Tom Duffy, who's managed enough campaigns for his advice to his young hotshot opposite to resonate.— in Farragut North

Fate. I'm not talking about what people deserve, I'm saying what they get. You look one way, you have access to all this. . .look some other way, all you get is that. Sorry, but it's true.
--- Carter in Fat Pig (Posted 12/16/04)

Dreams: Dreams are life's coming attractions.— a line from A Feminine Ending, a new play by Sarah Treem

Interactions: Some people build fences to keep people out. . .and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. she loves you.
—Bono about the fence that Troy and his son Cory are working on throughout the play even though neither quite understand's why Rose wants it since their modest home "ain't got nothing nobody want." Fences review
Religious Symbols: The Wailing Wall never spoke to me --Sonny
It's a quiet wall --Schlomo
This interchange between a young American filmmaker and an Israeli who is also a rapper is from The Flatted Fifth by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld. Click here for a review

Prayer: When you pray it's you talking to God. When you follow your instincts that's God talking back--Sonny towards the end of The Flatted Fifth

Life You work, you slave, you worry . . . Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh at it all -- so sings Valarie Pettiford, in "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" the opening number of Fosse. the musical revue. Those lyrics neatly sum up the legendary dancer-choreographer-director's life and style of frenzied, on-the edge body movements.

People: Where have all the droll people gone?. --- Marian Seldes, one of the droller characters in Neil Simon's 45 Seconds From Broadway

Power: Aeschylus and his Greek contemporaries believed that the Gods begrudged human success and would send a curse of hubris on a person at the height of their powers; a loss of sanity tat would eventually bring about their downfall. Nowadways, we give the Gods less credit. We prefer to call it self-destruction— James Reston, in Frost/Nixon

Clothing: Blue jeans are the greatest invention since the gondola. Beautiful! Because of the cut. Because of the fabric. Because of the way they look on the leg. --Diana Vreeland, brilliantly brought to life by Mary Louise Wilson in Full Gallop, Act 1. This hilarious mono-drama, which premiered at Manhattan Theater Club last year and made a successful transition to the Westside Theatre, is loaded with the famous high priestess of fashion doyenne's pithy pronouncements on color, style, food and life. Fired from her 9-year editorship of Vogue in 1971, she became even more famous when she took the helm of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute--and more recently, the subject of this very successful and stylish show. Click here for a review

Style: Style is the great thing. It helps you to get down the stairs. It gets you to move. -- Mary Louise Wilson as Diana Vreeland, Full Gallop, Act 1.

Excess: I'm a great believer in vulgarity. We all need a splash of bad taste. No taste is what I'm against. -- Mary Louise Wilson as Diana Vreeland, Full Gallop, Act 1.Vreeland's actions often belied her somewhat ditzy pronouncements. In the play this accompanies her filling every vase in sight with flowers which might make some apartments look vulgar or like a funeral parlor--but never Vreeland's Park Avenue apartment with its all-red, all-chintz, all tasteful excess. The techno-millionnaire, Stephen Jobs, who is equally committed to good taste--(he once rejected a proposed Macintosh circuit board visible only by service technicioas because it was ugly)--tends towards the minimalist view. And while he seems to respect his great competitor, Bill Gates of Microsoft, like Vreeland, he can't accept what he considers Microsoft's lacks of taste.

Clothing: It's not the clothes (stored in a museum exhibit) that people come to see. It's the life people led in them that counts. --Diana Vreeland, paving the way for her work with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, in Full Gallop, Act 2.
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Freedom. You got to fight to make it mean something. . . What good is freedom if you can't do nothing with it?
--- Solly Two Kings, in Gem of the Ocean (Posted 12/1/04)

Men's Sphere It's not a world of men -- it's a world of clock watchers, bureaucrats, officeholders. --- Richard Roma, the super slick salesman's ironic lament about the by-gone days of noble knights, in the revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glenn Ross

Family Secrets: Our folks knew each other before we were born. Don't you think that's weird?-- Delia Glimmer, daughter of a scarf tycoon from Greenwich, Connecticut.

What's weird is you didn't know they knew each other. It's like they hid this whole past from you. Like he was in some sort of CIA witness protection program--Jordan Shine, a trombonist whose father played with the Glimmer Brothers, and through whom she's only lately discovered that her businessman father was once a jazz musician and that he had a twin brother, also a musician. Act 1, scene 9 of Glimmer Brothers the new play by Tony-Award winner Warren Leight (Side Man) given a World Premiere at the Williamstown Theatre in July 1999

Contradictions: Conraditions are what people are, bundles of contradictions, fighting them and working them out. And I refuse to be dictated to by your overly simplistic logic-chopping approach to life—Tom in Grace

Dreams: No one with a dream should come to Italy, no matter how dead and buried you think it is. . .This is where Italy will get you. --- Margaret in The Light in the Piazza (Posted 4/22/05)
People may say that I can't sing but no-one can ever say I didn't sing. ---- Florence Foster Jenkins, in Glorious, the second pay about the famous atonal American diva to make it to a mainstream theatre. Glorious stars Maureen Lippman and follows the same basic story. Souvenir starring Judy Kaye has moved from Off-Broadway to Broadway. Posted 11/05/05

Behavior, unexplainable: . . .don't you see the "thing" that happened to me? What nobody understands? Why I can't feel what I'm supposed to!? Because it relates to nothing? It can't have happened! It did, but it can't have!
Martin, an accomplished, happily married man trying to explain a shameful event that has turned his world topsy turvy. The Goat.

Childhood: In the house of his birth a man is always a child
--Eng Tieng-Bin, a Chinese businessman who shuttles between the Western world and his traditional early twentieth century Chinese home, Act 1, . . . See our review Golden Child. Its 3-week run at the Public Theater ended 12/08/96 but it's played in other venues elsewhere in the country and there's much talk that it will return, this time to Broadway and with some revisions
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The type of justice meted out at Guantanamo Bay is likely to make martyrs of the prisoners in the moderate Muslim world with whom the West must work to ensure world peace and stability.
--- Lord Justice Steyn in Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom imported to Off-Broadway from London. (Posted 8/26/04)

New York--disaster: New York. . . my beautiful, gleaming, wounded city.
oan, the editor/writer trying to do something positive after 9/11, in the play that turned journalist Anne Nelson into a playwright, The Guys.

Regrets: I was born too soon and I started too late---
---Rose, the stage mother of them all who finally admits that it was all "for me" in Gypsy

Personality: You're like a pioneer woman without a frontier — Herbie when he meets the indominable Rose in Gypsy


Life's Stages: A man's interest in the world is only the overflow from his interest in himself? When you are a child your vessel is not yet full so you care for nothing but your own affairs. When you grow up, your vessel overflows, and you are a politician, a philosopher, or an explorer and adventurer. In old age, the vessell dries up: there is no overflow: you are a child again.—Captain Shotover, Act 2 Heartbreak House revived by the Roundabout.

Sexual  Relations :  It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? Is it Daddy? He went away.
Or Mother? I was suddenly afraid to go back to bed. What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complementary?...And what about sex? Is that how we put ourselves back together again? Is that what Daddy was trying to do to me? Or can two people actually become one again? And if we're driving on the Autobahn when it happens, can we still use the diamond lane? -- --Hedwig, the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch by John Cameron Mitchell.

Most of the stuff poetry's about hasn't happened to us yet ---Timms, arguing against Mr. Hector's insistence on his boys memorizing vasts amount of the stuff.
But it will Timms, It will. And then you have the antidote ready! Grief. Happiness. Even when you're dying. We're making your deathbeds here boys. Poetry is the trailer! Forthcoming attractions! --Hector.
Interchange from Alan Bennet's The History Boys.

Attentiveness. Everything distracts me from everything else, but what I've really noticed is that mainly, the thing I'm most distracted by is myself. I mean, I'm my own major distraction.
--- Eddie, in the New Group's revival of -- Hurlyburly which will move to 37Arts after current run on 42nd Street. (Posted 1/27/05)

Money: Money doesn't buy happiness -- Oliver, in a remark tinged with schadenfreude since it's addressed to his highbrow friend Laurie who is unhappily coasting "from tiny windfall to tiny windfall" and not surprisingly retorts: But it can upgrade despair so beautifully! in Richard Greenberg's Hurrah At Last
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Pipe Dreams: You become such a coward you'll grab at any lousy excuse to get out of killing your pipe dreams. And yet, as I've told you over and over, it's exactly those damned tomorrow dreams which keep you from making peace with yourself --Hickey in The Iceman Cometh, Act 3 (our review of 1999 Broadway production

Moral Values: A man who can't talk morally twice a week to a large, popular, immoral audience is quite over as a serious politician. --Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband.An Ideal Husband opened in London the same year as The Importance of Being Earnest, (1895), but never enjoyed Earnest's success. In 1992 director Peter Hall's company took An Ideal Husband out of the ever popular, much revived Earnest's shadow, with a successful London revival. This led to a successful New York run at the Barrymore Theater where it played from the second half of the 1995-96 season to 1/21/97. It was also made into a star-studded film in 1999.

Truth vs. Fiction. I believe in the truth, -- Mary McCarthy
I believe in the story -- Lillian Hellman. Imaginary Friends

Memory: Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.
--Miss Prism in Act 2 of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

Earnest, often considered Wilde's masterpiece had a successful, limited run (closed 12/22/96)at the Irish Rep. But this enduring example of the Wilde wit at its best is practically always playing on some stage, somewhere.

Simplicity: Nothing is simple. 'Simple's' not even simple anymore. Terry, commenting on his kid brother's psychobabbling promise to get his act together in Neil LaBute's world premiering play In a Dark Dark Place

Death: Death ends a life,but it does not end a relationship.—Gene, the son in I Never Sang For My Father

My life's my own fault. I know that. But the world don't help, Maam -- Hester
The world's not here to help us. The world is simply here. We must help ourselves -- Welfare Lady
Suzan-Lori Parks'1999 play, In the Blood
Knowledge: Useless knowledge for its own sake. Useful knowledge is good, too, but it's for the faint-hearted, an elaboration of the real thing, which is only to shine some light, it doesn't matter where on what, it's the light itself, against the darkness, it's what's left of God's purpose when you take away God - Richard Easton, as scholar A.E. Housman, in Invention of Love>explaining why he devoted a lifetime translating an obscure Latin poet nobody cares about.

Youthful Accomplishment Now is the time, when you are young, to deck your head with myrtle -- A. E. Houseman, looking back at his youthful self in Tom Stoppard's The Invention Of Love another quotable quote from the same play:

Fate: There is a group determined to continue. What's been set in motion can't be stopped. —Agamemmnon in Iphigenia 2.0 Hatred: . . .Every time you meet hatred, stand up against it and that way, it can never happen again— Irene Gut Opdyke in , a Polish Catholic woman who saved a dozen Jews during the Holocaust, urging a group of students to never again allow such horrors to happen.— in Irena's Vow

Career Choices: I'm a mime because I'm from Montana. Now Montana is not known as a hotbed of mime activity; but still, it is BIG and QUIET.--- Bill Bowers in his staged memoir It Goes Without Saying

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Marriage: I think marriage is like the cockpit of a commercial airliner. . .you know. . .all those switches. . .and they all. . .all 200. . .have to be in. . .the right position, only in aviation they know what those are, and in marriage you never do, so the odds . . .the odds are astronomical you won't. . .stay in the air. So I don't think we're bad people, Jack, I think we are disgruntled victims. . .of the odds. -- Jill, the distaff half of Jane Martin's Jack and Jill at Shakespeare & Co, Summer 2000 

Men & Women
How many men have you forgotten?-- Johnny Guitar
As many women as you've remembered -- Vienna. ---An exchange in Johnny Guitar, the Musical, courtesy of the moie that inspired it. (Posted 3/23/04 )

Understanding: You only really see a person through love. It's only when you love somebody that you really -- Liam Neeson as Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss

Atheism. Atheism is a sort of crutch for those who can't bear the reality of God--- George Jumpers, Tom Stoppard's 1972 play which recently transferred from London to Broadway. (Posted 4/28/04)

Extravagance: She wants a taxi if she's only goin' in the other room -- Fred Stevens, the central character in the revival of the 1929 bittersweet comedy with music, June Moon  by George Kaufman and Ring Lardner. This less than rosy assessment of his gold-digging fiancee marks the beginning of the young lyricist's loss of innocence.

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But I don't care if you don't/ And I don't feel if you don't/ And I don't want it if you don't / And I won't say it/ If you don't say it first.
---song from Kiki & Herb: Alive On Broadway

Life: Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale/Vexing the du drowsy man. ---Act III, scene 4, King John

It’s my world
That I want to have a little pride in
My world
And it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a damn
Till you can say "Hey world.
I am what I am!"

--- Albin in La Cage aux Folles (Posted 12/17/04)

Love. I didn't know what love was till I tasted her cooking. --Ruben Santiago-Hudson in his memoir, Lackawanna Blues

World Affairs, irrelvancy of: What in the world do world affairs have to do with anything?
The biggest laugh line in the Los Angeles Road Company's latest production of The Lady's Not For Burning

Gay Life: After twenty-five years, everything has changed about gay life. Except the Gay Pride Parade.---Charles in Jonathan Tolin's play about gay plays, The Last Sunday In June

Wealth, effect of: This mornng I was a peaceful country doctor filled with gentle thoughts of a medical description and I coveted nothing, not even my collections. Look at me now. . . if a patient came in with an appendix now I'd miss it so far I'd put his eye out!.— Dr. Haggetty expressing the effect of discovering that the paintings given to him by his deceased former patient and boarder were not as worthless as he had thought, The Late Christopher Bean.

Money:What confuses me about money is how unfairly it's distributed --Mr. Astruc, the man who came to look at an apartment for rent and stayed to make endless telephone calls ("I see a phone -- I have to use it" and eat paté --- Jean-Claude Carrière's La Terasse imported from France to the Manhattan Theatre Club in early summer '99. For more details about and word wit from this well-translated French farce see our review

Transience: Yesterday's bread is tomorrow's croutons. ---Malcolm McLaren, Lipstick Traces

Cynicism:Cynicism is only an unpleasant way of saying the truth.--Ben (to Regina), Act 1, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. Regina has accused her oldest brother of being interested in her interests only as a way to keep control of the business in the family and while Ben accuses her of being cynical, his smile acknowledges the truth of her accusation.

Guilt and Responsibility: Well, there are people who eat the the earth and eat all the people on it, like in the Bible with the locusts. Then there are people who stand around and watch them eat it. Sometimes I think it ain't right to stand and watch them do it --Addie (to Birdie), Act 3, Lillian Hellman's >The Little Foxes.This indictment of the Birdies and Horaces of this world as well as the Hubbards, serves as Alexandra's wake-up call at the end.

Theater Habits: We don't have a problem with cell phones in the theater in this town. We've simply stopped doing theater altogether.—One of innumerable bon mots popping out of the mouth of Julie White's hot-shot agent, a performance that helped to move The Little Dog Laughed from Off Broadway to Broadway.

Lies: You've become so good at telling lies, you can even fool yourself. --- Diane, to her movie star client who "suffers from a slight recurring case of homosexuality" in The Little Dog Laughed.

Opportunists, Go-Getters: There are hundreds of Hubbards sitting in rooms like this throughout the country. All their names aren't Hubbard, but they are all Hubbards and they will own this country some day. --Ben, Act 3, Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes.These fictional turn of the century robber barons bear an all too close resemblance to the many family businesses turned mega-corporations ruled by greed. The only thing dated about the oldest Hubbard brother's Act 3 declaration is the modesty of his estimate..

Rules If you stick to the rules, then you never have to have a discussion about whether or not you were justified not sticking to the rules
--William a straight arrow security guard in Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero>

Fame:My work will become famous for all time, and your efforts, reductive and simplistic, will fade from the American memory --Salvador Dali to a Walt Disney studio animator in Kira Obolensky'sLobster Alice a surrealistic comedy loosely based on Dali's short stint with Disney.

Mankind: Man is a creature of the hour--the dinner hour, I suppose -- Lady divker, Dion L. Boucicault's >London Assurance , Act 4, revived to generally good reviews during the Roundabout's 1996-97 season.

Hesitation: Hesitation destroys the romance of a faux pas and reduces it to the level of a mere mercantile calculation -- Lord Courtley, Dion L. Boucicault's London Assurance Act 4. Brian Bedford won much praise as Lord Courtly in the Roundabout's 1996-97 revival.

Parental Control. We struggle to keep our children from the moment they're born. . .And it's a struggle we're destined to lose. That's the way of the world; our children never really belong to us. As for other people. . .even our best friends are only guests in our lives; they get up from the table when they've finished--and vanish back into their own life.
--- Professor Wegrat, in the Mint Theater's newly translated production of Arthur Schnitzler's The Lonely Way (Posted 2/14//05)

Godlessness It seems like God has no jurisdiction in this town. No jurisdiction at all
--Father Welsh about the parish where murder, fighting and immorality rain is the town of Leenane the setting for The Lonesome Westwhich completes Martin McDonagh's trilogy about people in rural Ireland.

Nicknames. We called him Skeet. 'Cause he was all time buzzin' around like one of them little old bugs. . . And skinny. Legs no bigger'n a buggy whip. I'd say, 'Skeet, you're so skinny you could change clothes in the barrel of a shotgun.'--Hank Williams bible-toting mom about her legendary son in Hank Williams: Lost Highway.

Politicians: When you come right down to it, there are only two kinds of politicians. There's the crooks like you, and the fellows who aren't smart enough to be crooks! So we have to become reformers--Senator Loganberry in Irving Berlin's 1941 book musical Louisiana Purchase.This rarely mentioned political musical play had an enviable year-plus run.

Audiences People like their b lues singers sad and drunk.
-- Janis Joplin, who drank and drugged her way to an early grave, in the concert-play, >Love, Janis

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Thoughtlessness: I didn't mean -- at least...---Lomax
You didn't think, Charles. You never do; and the result is -- you never mean anything.--- Lady Britomart
in Shaw's Major Barbara

Thought Processes: . . .  There is a hole in the middle of my thinking
that my thinking cannot touch.
---Richard Foreman
Foreman's latest production Maria del Bosco currently at his Ontological Theater

Perfection. I'm practically perfect in every way!
--- Mary Poppins, the Nanny who has moved from page to London stage -- our review. (Posted 1/02/05)

Parents and Children: Parents should instruct children -- Mr. Asano . . . Not in America! -- Mrs. Jacoby. One of the still timely and subject-to-debate themes in a 1999 revival of The Majority of One> .

Artists: We artists wear our hearts on our sleeves-- Maria Callas early on in Terrence McNally's Master Class which defied the fate of most dramas by running through two full Broadway seasons, with several actresses making the role of Callas their own (Zoe Caldwell, Patty LaPone and Dixie Carter). While the play left the Great White way on June 29, 1997, it promises to continue to entertain and move audiences on the road both in the U.S. and abroad.

Hatred: Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.
--Barbara Undershaft, in George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara, Act 3. This play about a wealthy girl who joins the Salvation army is a 4-star golden oldie with movie fans and of course the basis for the musical Guys and Dolls.

Race. If you colored and can make them some money, then you all right with them. Otherwise, you just a dog in the alley.---Ma Rainey (Whoopi Goldbeg in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Wealth: Jewels did not make the queen— Mary after her personal belongings have been taken awayin Mary Stuart

Money: Money should circulate like rain water. It should be flowing down among the people, through dressmakers and restaurants and cabmen, setting up a little business here, and furnishing a good time there --Dolly Levi in Thornton/Wilder's The Matchmaker,>Act 1. Mrs. Levi returns to the subject of money several more times:Money!--it's like the sun we walk under; it can kill or cure and, in a re-phrasing of philosopher Francis Bacon --Money--pardon my expression--is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread about a thing unless it's spread about encouraging young things to grow.While the musical Hello Dolly has somewhat eclipsed the source, the Williamstown Theatre Festival managed to give it a fresh as a strawhat summer production during its summer '98 season. (CurtainUp's Review)

Advice, Miscellaneous: Everybody should eavesdrop once in a while. There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head --Malachi Stack in Thornton/Wilder's The Matchmaker Act 3

Adventure: The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it, you say to yourself, Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home. And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure --Dolly Levi in Thornton/Wilder's The Matchmaker, Act 4.

Memories: All memories are false
--Mary, one of three sisters rexamining their conflicting memories of lingering discontent with their mother in Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water

Democracy: Democracy reads well but it doesn't act well — Lord Summerby in< Misalliance smartly revived by the Pearl Theater

Modern Adaptations of Classic Plays:
The world's a mess. Absolutely. We've fucked it.
So why not just sit back and deconstruct it? -- John in the opening scene of Martin Crump's adaptation of The Misanthrope that opened 2/99 at the Classic Stage Company and did indeed deconstruct the original. The results were greeted with mixed critical response and a sold-out house.

Fun and Games:
Play us some music. And nothing too arty.
I'm sick of this. I want to party.
-- Jennifer, Moliere's widow now a movie star played by movie star Uma Thurman in The Misanthrope. Martin Crimp's update for the classic did not abandon rhymed couplets which prompted CurtainUp's editor to sum up the adaptation with a bit of doggerel of her own:
The fact that it's fun and accessible even for Molière neophytes
>May draw sneers and complaints from the master's acolytes. (our review).

Hope Hope? I find it hard to get on the hope bandwagon. I always have. -- Veronica, the middle aged central character of Christopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon. Veronica wants to stop the world and get off -- and does, only to find herself in an anteroom to the after life that she can't enter without going through several reincarnations.

Life: You know -- there are only two plots in this life: the one that works out the way it should, and the one that doesn't-- Mizlanky before his partner Zilinky is sent to prison courtesy of Mizslansky talking to the IRS to save his own skin in Jon Robin Baitz's play, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, about two Hollywood producers who were once kings of Schlock but are now as short of good ideas as they are of cash. See our review .

Self-descriptions:./b> If I were a word, I would be 'more' --- Yeardley Smith in a statement that gives her solo play its name: More (Posted 3/22/04)

Men: Trouble with me is I never saw a man who was worth the powder to blow him up with.
Aunt Arrie, the sharp-tongued spinster in Mornings At Seven currently at the Lyceum where it last played in 1980.

Angels: Angels are just the Prozac for poor people.--- The quotable laugh lines came so fast and furiously in The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told that we lost track of who said what during this homosexual update of the story of Adam and Eve (make that Steve).

Corruption: Corruption is our only hope. ---Mother Courage in the Classical Theater of Harlem's production of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children (Posted 12/8/03)

War: What they could do with round here is a good war. What else can you expect with peace running wild all over the place? You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization.
--Mother Courage, in Bertolt Brecht's anit-war epic Mother Courage and Her Children, revived by the Jean Cocteau Repertory company with a never-before performed musical score by Darius Milhaud.

Good Intentions. Whether he meant to, or not, my father did a good thing by sending me here.[Looking up to heavens]Thank you, Max. On a scale of one to a hundred, you've gone from one to a three--- Mathias, in My Old Lady, ever resorting to sarcasm, to hide the pain of a child growing up emotionally traumatized. .

Human Connection: Do you know what it is to need someone? What is it that makes someone a link between you and your own life? -- Pea one of the characters in Maria Irene Fornes' playlet Drowning-- one of a pair of plays that opened the Signature Theatre Company's 1999-2000 season dedicated to this little known but much admired playwright. 
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Sin/Sinner: I could see the sin . . . I could hate the sin . . .but never the sinner --Clarence Darrow in his argument with the prosecuting attorney in Never the Sinner (NYC) a play by John Logan reviewed by CurtainUp during it's Washington and New York run. Religion: The only difference between a Jew and a Christian is the superstitions to which they subscribe.— Spinoza. in David Ives' New Jerusalem

>Freedom of the press.Freedom of the press is freedom to gossip.
--President Mageeba defending the "relatively free" press (as in &qedited by a relative") of the African nation he rules,
in Night and Day, by Tom Stoppard.

Life vs. stage: Death is being rained from the sky on whole populations. . . What sort of world is this? And you expect me to sit in my room contriving stage situations for you to be witty in!
--- Gaylord (Gay) Easterbrook, a successful playwright of frothy comedies questioning his relevancy, is the stand-in for S. N. Berhrman whose No Time for Comedy

Entrapment: Every man walks around with a cage he carries around with him until he is dead -- Jim the ?caged canary? of the dynamically restaged early Tennessee Williams play Not About Nightingaleswhich moved from the Alley Theater in Texas to London and in Spring 1999 to Broadway.

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Life's Meaning you got somebody in you right from the start, and if you're lucky you figure out who it is and you become it. People who don't become are. . .well, look around you. — LouiseNevelson— in Occupant

Destiny: But I am sure of one thing; nothing,
No disease can touch me now.
I would not have been saved from death
Unless it were for some strange destiny.
But let my destiny go where it will. --Oedipus at the end of Oedipus the King. This conclusion sums up the abiding message of this and other Sophocles plays: Take what comes and do not be come so hardened in your attitudes that you snap under pressure. Or to put it another way, be resilient. In the same way when Creon prays for death at the end of Antigone, he is told: Whatever will come to pass
Has already been appointed. Nobody can change it.

Art: Art consists of knowing the basic rules and realizing when it is time to deviate from them
>--Prof. Joseph Mashkan in Old Wicked Songswhich opened on September 7th at the Promenade Theater (76th Street and Broadway).

I saw this play last year at the Jewish Rep Theater and found it to be one of the most moving and exhilarating theatrical experiences of the season. The Dichterliebe cycle of Schumann songs (based on Heinrich Heine's love poems) are an important element in this story of the clash between two men who come from very different places, literally and emotionally. With playwright Jon Marans a finalist for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama, the production had a decent second life at the Promenade.

Compromise: Citizens -- embrace the middle way --Athena, in the third play of the Aeschylus trilogy The Oresteia

Suffering: How can human beings stand all that comes to them? How can they?— Horace Robedaux in The Orphans' Home Cycle Part 3

Truth: Telling the truth is a very expensive hobby.Silda forewarning her niece about the consequences of publishing her tell-all memoirOther Desert Cities

Life: Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute— Emily in Our Town<

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Relationships: How could I be so lucky ?What kind of fool could have taken you for granted? -- Leo Frank in the musicalParade after tragedy has eroded the differences between him and his wife -- differences profound enough to make him an outsider even in the home he shares with a woman who would rather he say howdy and not shalom.Besides documenting the wave of post-Civil War class consciousness and anti-Semitism seeded by a shift from an agricultural to industrial economy Parade also captures the media's hunger for sensational news stories.

Leadership, bad: He has emptied an empire. Poured the youth of an entire world like so much water into desert sand. --- the ghost of Darius speaking of his son Xerxes in The Persians

Acceptance: Accept me as something enigmatic, for I am not what I appear to be.
---Dona Angela The Phantom Lady at the Pearl Theater

Influence. There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral. . ..Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. --Lord Henry, Oscar Wilde's epigram-spitting soul mate in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Eleanor, love, time is running out. You and I have 20, 25 years if we're lucky, slowing down like a rusty old rudder until one day we stop forever. So this probably is my last chance and where's the harm? It's marvelous being a lover. -- James, trying to rationalize his infidelity to his suffering wife in James Nichols' Passion Play

Lies, Deception: There's not much value in a town propped up by lies ---- Lona in a rare revival of Ibsen's Pillars of the Community at the Royal National Theatre, posted 11/04/05

Real Life. There are no happy endings in real life --- Katurian K. Katurian, in The Pillowman
Pain, it's necessity. If you have no wounds how can you know if you're alive? If you have no scar how do you know who you are? Have been? Can ever be?
-- Man (Brian Murray),
in The Play About the Baby

Wisdom: I'm gonna tell you something now that will guide your entire life. Alla da wisdom you ever need to know. . . All Polish jokes are true.---Roman, shaking up his nine-year-old newphew's faith in the pleasure of humming the Beer Barrel Polka, playing the accordion, and eating kielbasa and duck blood soup. in Polish Joke

Playwriting Advice: If you want to be a playwright...go and get yourself a job as a butler in a repertory company, if they'll have you. Learn from the ground up how plays are constructed and what is actable and what is not. Then sit down and write at least twenty plays one after the other, and if you can manage to get the twenty-first produced for a Sunday night performance, you'll be damned lucky! --Garry Essendine to aspiring playwright Roland Maule, in Noël Coward's Present Laughter.. When it opened in 1939 Coward played the lead.

Hypocrisy: Hypocrisy does keep things pleasant for at least part of the time
---Raymond Brock in David Hare's Plenty,Act 2, scene 9.

Credentials: The only thing you can do today without a license is you'll go up the elevator and jump out the window --Gregory Solomon in Arthur Miller's The Price, Act 1. Solomon, the character who brings the play its light touch, thus amplifies his statement that he is both registered and licensed as an appraiser

Success: It's good to be the king
--- Max Bialystock, in The Producers.

I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme.—Miss Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie revived by the New Group and starring Cynthia Nixon.

Personality. I hope you’re going to be slightly more dynamic once we’re married. --Nicola, to the fiance who's been mysteriously ousted from his army career and is now a borderline alcoholic and anything but dynamic. These are just two of the characters living lives of isolated discontent in Alan Ayckbourn's Private Fears Public Places , the jewel in the second Brits Off-Broadway Festival's crown.

Creativity: There's this fear that your creativity peaks around 23 and it's all downhill from there . . . Once you hit 50 it's over, you might as well teach high school -- Hal a math instructor who at 28 is very much aware of the narrowing of his window of opportunity in the Pulitzer-prize winning Proof.
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Understanding: People want things to make sense.
--- Nat, the outspoken mother in John Lindsay Abaire's first Broadway play, Rabbit Hole.

Playwriting I am trying to write plays that contain the sum total of black culture in America, and its difference from white culture. Once you put in the daily rituals of black life, the plays start to get richer and bigger. You're creating a whole world in the process of telling your story, of writing this character. Once you place him down in his environment, you have to write about his whole philosophical approach to life. And then you can uncover, from a black perspective, the universalities of life. -- August Wilson, American Playwright, April 27, 1945 -October 2, 2005. To read our review of his last play, Radio Golf go here. (Posted 10/04/05)

Change, Signs of:
Something beginning
an era exploding
a century spinning
in riches and rags
and in rhythm and rhyme
the people call it ragtime
--from the title prologue number of Ragtime: The Musical which opened 1/18/98 at the new Ford Center on Forty-Second Street. Critics and audiences were split into raves and yea,buts. Everyone did agree, however, that the opening number was a Wow for all the senses.

Dreams:I wasn't lying. I was dreaming -- Starbuck The Rainmaker, Act 2 to which Lizzie replies: There are all kinds of dreams, Mr Starbuck. Mine are small

Dreams: What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
--- opening lines of Langston Hughes' "Harlem [2]." which inspired the title of the play A Raisin in the Sun currently being revived on Broadway.

Words: Words if you look after them . . .they can build bridges -- Henry, the playwright in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing who learns that neither his definition of words or love have been quite the real thing of his intellectual preconceptions.

Art and Life: Life is very nice, but it lacks form. It's the aim of art
to give it some --Part 1 (Act 1, scene 2 in the original), Jean Anouilh's The Rehearsal.

Love: Love is not that entertaining but it keeps your hopes up. --Part 2, Jean Anouilh's The Rehearsal.

Political Views: It's such a comfort that all the rich people about here are Conservatives. I believe the same may be noticed in other parts of the country. It almost seems like a special Providence.— Lady Faringford in Lady Faringford, the slim, chic Lady Bracknell-like character in the Mint Theater's 's New York premiere of The Return of the Prodigal

Life, Assessment of: Maybe all I can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. -- Lyman Felt's lawyer, as influenced by Arthur Miller in The Ride Down Mt. Mortan

Love: Love is too fragile a sentiment for out here— Mama Nadi in Ruined

Heritage: . . . Your father has lived here, and your grandfather before you. It's your inheritance-can't you realize that?--what you've got to come to when I'm under ground. We've made it for you, stone by stone, penny by penny, fighting through thick and thin for close on a hundred years---Rutherford, in Rutherford & Son, a 1912 social drama at the Mint Theater

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Life, Meaningful. I've gone all over the world. . .but I didn't find a reason for me anywhere in the sense of my life. A break through cause. Something that puts me on the the other side, you know, with the people who knew why they're alive. Am I gonna wait for that to come to me? What if it doesn't come. Or maybe I don't know it when it shows up. Then I'm just another guy waiting to die.
--- Rich in John Patrick Shanley's new play Sailors Song-- a watercolor.

Violence. I write about violence as naturally as Jane Austen wrote about manners. Violence shapes and obsesses our society, and if we do not stop being violent, we have no future
-- Edward Bond, whose 1965 play Saved.

Courage: I hate these faint hearts who are always thinking of the consequences. --Scapin, in the play named after him, Act 3.The roguish servant thus responds to another valet's advice to avoid always risking actions that could get him into trouble, adding that he is addicted to living dangerously. Moliere's comedy, clearly comes down on the side of life's risk-takers.

When this farce was first performed in 1671, the playwright himself played the part of Scapin. Bill Irwin, who directed and cast himself as Scapin in the 1997 Roundabout production, followed the Comedia del Arts tradition of Moliere's day by freely veering from the script. Consequently, while Scapin and his colleague Sylvestre remain as the key figures, the above quote never shows up in the Irwin/ Mark O'Donnell adaptation. Review of Scapin

Gossip: To smile at the jest which plants a thorn in another's breast is to become a principal in the mischief -- Joseph Surface, to Lady Sneer, Act 1, scene 1, Richard Brinsley Sheridan' The School For Schandal)-- To which, true to her name, the lady retorts: Psha! there's no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature: the malice of a good thing is the barb that makes it stick. Sheridan whose play was revived in December 1997 at the Pearl Theatre on St. Marks Place was famous for giving his characters names that capsulized their personalities. The pleasures of scandal are, alas, as timely today as they were when the play was first performed at London's Drury Lane Theatre.

Specificity. All my life I wanted to be somebody, but I see now that I should have been more specific
--Chrissy, one of 12 characters played by Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe .

HumanBody: So imagine your body's a community, and your cells are the people who live there. The dream of every cell is to be immortal. . . to make endless copies of itself, but the community Can only use so many liver cells and no more than two eyes, so your cells need to cooperate. . . .— Dr. William Shumway in The Secret Order

Life: The Bible say some things ain't for you to know. It say you know neither the day nor the hour when death come.---Vera
He come like a thief in the night. And he don't go away empty.---Canewell .
Interchange from Seven Guitars, part of the Signature's August Wilson Season

Malevolence, Ill Will: . . . there's just about nothing more bond-inducing than sharply focused ill will.---Melissa James Gibson, [sic]

Obsolescence: No more nonets and tenets. No more 60 weeks on the road. No more jam sessions till dawn in the Cincinnati zoo. When they go, that will be it. . .a 50-year blip on the screen --Clifford, the son of a jazz musician in the 1998-99 season's first Broadway opening, Side Man by Warren Leight. Clifford is the narrator and participant in the heartrending story of his motionally dissonant family life and the larger story of the itinerant musicians whose world collapsed with the end of the era of the legendary big bands. With all the praise that's been heaped on the production (both in its original Off-Broadway run) the musicians whose careers ended so sadly did get a reprieve of sorts through Leight's affectionate portrayal of their passion and their era

Evil. What, Cardinal Law, were you specifically doing to reach out and help the victims of Paul Shanley's unspeakable evil?
--- Krieger, the lawyer at Law's deposition hearing, a question met with silence in Michael Murphy's docu-drama, Sin (A Cardinal Deposed) playing on Theater Row. (Posted 10/28/04)

Regrets. Have you ever done anything you've regretted, Nancy?
-- Philip
I've never done anything at all. I regret that
-- Nancy
in Amy Rosenthal's delightful Sitting Pretty

Language: Language belongs to the past. Now you throw out a big serve and it never comes back.
--Tom Sergeant (Michael Gambon) explaining his lack of communication with his son in David Hare's Skylight which was a big hit at the Royale during the Fall '96 season.Review

People's Worth: Never think too little of people. There's always a little less to be thought.
---Foxwell J. Sly in the fthe Broadway revival of Sly Fox.

Race Relations: If it wasn't for all you Southern niggahs, yessahin' bowin' and scrapin', scratchin'your head, white folks wouldn' think we were all fools. ---Tech/Sergeant Vernon C. Waters in Second Stage's revival of Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play.

The culture of illness is so strong in my familythat it's the way we keep time

Excuses: Not havin' ain't no excuse for not gettin'.
--Tech Sergeant Vernon C. Waters in Act 1 of Charles Fuller's 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning A Soldier's Play.

The drama which centers on a murder investigation in a Southern Army camp during W.W. 2 explores the devastating effect self-hatred can have on those around him. The new non-profit Valiant Theatre company chose this as its second offering for the season. (From November 20th-December 8th).A Soldier's Play review

Love: Love's a fairy tale for idiots. -- Charles Bukowski, whose stories were adapted for South Of No North

Prejudice: You've got to be taught to be afraid/Of people whose eyes are oddly made. . . .—--from "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught" — in South Pacific

Reality: But why should it all be garbage?
Why? Why should nickels be bigger than dimes? That's the way it is.
— Fox explaining the realities of Hollywood to Karen, his secretary in Speed-the-PlowSpeed-the-Plow

Politics: You're not nominated by the people--you're nominated by the politicians! Why? Because the voters are too damned lazy to vote in the primaries! Well, politicians are not lazy!
--James Conover in State of the Union by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, Act 2.

On June 2, 1997 the annual Arena Stage benefit for the Living Stage Theatre Company unpacked this 1945 cornball hit from the theatrical archives and gave politicians and journalists the opportunity to strut their thespian stuff. The plot centers on one Grant Matthews, a guy too honest to run for president who runs for president, which of course makes him less and less honest. His moral seducers included, among others, Charles Rangel, playing, a pro-business pol; Richard Lugar and Donna Shalala as a judge and his Southern wife; Susan Molinari as an Irish maid complete with accent (the congresswoman was herself seduced that month to swap her congressional role for that of newscaster). In the end, Grant's wife who held tight to her integrity and helps him to step back from the edge of moral turpitude.

Realism: I don't want realism. I want -- magic. Yes, yes, magic!
-- Blanche DuBois, in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. In August 1999, a deconstructed version of this play -- with Blanche bathing on stage, and Mitch as well as Stanley raping her -- opened for a limited run in the East Village (our review)

Truth/Untruth: I know I fib a good deal but when things are important I tell the truth.— Blanche — in A Streetcar Named Desire

Kissing: When all is said, what is a kiss? An oath of allegiance taken in closer proximity. . .a fashion of inhaling each other's heart
-- Cyrano, in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac .

The quote may be from Rostand's play but it's inspired by a much more up-to-date romance by an exciting young playwright: Stop Kiss by Diana Son.

Marriage: Marriage is like lying in a warm bath. And slowly it gets colder and colder for the rest of one's lifetime ---- Alfred Darby in The Sugar Wife an Irish play currently at London's SoHo Theater (posted 1/29/06)

Life is a fight--people always seem to be against you ---- Laurence, the type A real estate salesman in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party

Loneliness: All rooms are lonely where there is only one person  --Alma Winemiller to the lonely travelling man she picks up at the end of Tennessee William's Summer and Smoke revived during the first part of the 1996-97 season at the Roundabout

Talent, As a Means to Stave of Age: Where there's talent, there's no such thing as old age--Vassily Vassilyvitch Svetlovidow in Anton Chekhov's one-act play Swan Song. This short play, the last of an evening of four of Chekhov's early playlets (Four Of a Kind), served up as the Berkshire Theatre Festival's first-of-the-season offering is a soliloquy of an aging actor re-playing some of his best roles (a la Christopher Plummer in his 1997 Tony winning role Barrymore.. As played by Bob Dishy this statement proved to be something of a joke on himself--and the audience which was in danger of aging from boredom. As Broadway has its failures, so does summer stock--even much venerated (deservedly so) landmarks like BTF.

Music: To think that syncopation outwitted segregation -- Singer-lyricist Ann Hampton Calloway's apt addition to the classic"Stompin' at the Savoy" for themuscial Swing!.

Self-Understanding:Self-Sufficiency-- I have come to see is not the road to self-knowledge -- Agis, the romantic principal in act one of James Magruder's translation and musical book for the Marivaux comedy, Triumph of Love., the musical See our review.

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Basbeall. Baseball is better than democracy. --Mason Marzac in Take Me Out a hit at the Donmar Warehouse in London and the Public Theater from which it moved on to Broadway..
Places to Live In: Champlain is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.—Linda, the volatile talk show host's assistant on her experience as his occasional lover in the Broadway revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio.
Truth. True is a word humans have invented to give them a sense of meaning. Immortals do not use it -- one of many quotable lines (by Thetis) from the epic Tantalus at the Denver Center .

Faith: Faith is a gift...and there's no learning it --Lady Hurf, in Act 4 of Jean Anouilh's Thieves' Carnival.

Life, appreciation of. I know this wasn't much, but let it be enough. Isn.t it great to be alive? --- a reader-submitted favorite quote from Thom Pain (Based on nothing). Extended to July 3! (Posted 2/05/05)

Teen Problems. That's the problem with high school-- one of the many problems, anyway. You're so desparate to fit in, and at the same time totally needing to stand out --- Belinda explaining her inter-racial marriage to the high school athletic hero to the high school nerd. This Is How It Goes. Second Chances: I often wonder what it would be like if we could begin our lives over again. . .as if the life we'd already lived were just a rough draft and we could begin all over again with the final copy. . . If that happened I think the thing we'd all want most would be not to repeat ourselves. --Vershinin, Act 1, in Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. Vershinin, a family friend and eventually the middle sister Masha's lover, is thinking about his own unhappy marriage. For the sisters a new beginning would mean leaving the provincial town where they've been trapped for eleven long and frustrating years and returning to the more culturally stimulating life of Moscow.The fact that the 1996-97 season boasts three productions of this play underscores the fact. During 11/96 the Sovremennick Theater of Moscow paid a short visit to Manhattan with a Russian language version, (with earphones for simultaneous translation), in the style of the original Moscow Theater's production by Constantin Stanislavsky.

Neccessary/Unnecessary: Knowing three languages in a town like this is an unnessecary luxury. In fact, not even a luxury, just a useless encumbrance. . .like having a sixth finger
--Masha Act 1, in Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. People born in small towns will always see the big metropolis as the place where a more stimulating life beckons. Many writers and artists end up returning to their birth places, if not physically, as a wellspring for their imagination. In the case of the Prosorov sisters and their brother, however, the big city and its more culturally stimulating atmosphere is not an unknown dream, but one from which they've been exiled.

Small vs. Big City Life: You can sit in some huge restaurant in Moscow and not know a soul, and no one know you; yet somehow you feel that you belong there. . .But here you know everybody and everybody knows you,and yet you don't feel you belong here,no not at all. . .You're a stranger and all alone. --Andrey,Act 2, in Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters.

Work: I must get another job. This one doesn't suit me. It lacks all the things I long for and dream of. It's work without poetry, without meaning. -- Irina, Act 2, in Anton Chekhov's he Three Sisters.The cry of the person who feels trapped in a deadend job persists even today with so many seemingly endless opportunities. Jobs like lovers, will often start out full of promise and turn out to be filled with the dailyness that tarnishes the dream.

Life, the Sameness Of: After we're dead, people will fly in balloons, fashions will change, the sixth sense will be discovered, and for all I know, even be developed and used. . .But life itself won't be very different; it will still be mysterious, always difficult, yet filled with happiness. And in a thousand years people will still sight and complain 'How hard life is!'--and yet they'll still be afraid of death and unwilling to dies, just as they are now --Tusenbach, Act 2, The Three Sisters. The sisters and the various players in the drama are assembled. Vershinin has announced his desire for tea, adding "Well, if we can't have any tea, let's philosophize a bit, anyway"--and it is in the course of this "philosophizing" that the baron who repeatedly announces his desire to experience real work, makes the above statement. While the advances we now anticipate are different, the essence of what he says remains true.

Belief: But man must have some faith, or at least he's got to seek it, otherwise his life will be empty, empty. . .How can you live and not know why the cranes fly, why children are born, why the stars shine in the sky!. . .You must either know why you live, or else. . .nothing matters. . .everything's just nonsense and waste. --Masha , Act 2, The Three Sisters.

Love: When you read a novel, everything in it seems too trite and obvious. It's so understandable--but when you fall in love yourself, you suddenly discover that no one really knows anything, and you've got to make your own choices --Masha, Act 3, The Three Sisters. Masha who's come to realize that the man she married at 18 was good but not brilliant, has just confessed her affair with Vershinin to her sisters. How many men and women who married the man of their dreams based on the happy but vague endings of novels and movies have been disappointed by the reality of every day? How many, like Irina, find it difficult to compromise their vision of the man of their dreams for a man with flesh-and-blood shortcomings?

Life and Death: What beautiful trees--and when you think of it, how beautiful life ought to be when there are trees like these!. . . Look at that tree, it's dead, but it goes on swaying in the wind with the others. And it seems to me that in the same way, if I die, I'll still have a part in life, one way or another. -- Tusenbach, Act 4, iThe Three Sisters. The baron's statement foreshadows his fate. Having finally won over Irina, he can't refuse the challenge of a duel that will prove fatal, leaving him "swaying in the wind" like the tree in the forest he contemplates with such admiration.

Time's Passing: Oh where has it gone?--What's become of my past when I was young and gay and clever, when I had beautiful dreams and was full of ideas, and the present and the future were bright with hope? Why do we become so dull, so ordinary, so uninteresting, almost before we've begun to live?
--- Andrey, , Act 4, in Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. Andrey's cry is the leitmotiv of Chekhov's tragic story of a family whose dreams are shattered in part by external circumstances and in part by their own weaknesses.

Life: Some day people will know why such things happen and what the purpose of all this suffering is. . .Meanwhile we must go on living
--Irina, Act 4, is The Three Sisters. Irina' desperate cry comes at the end of the play. Her fiance has been killed in a senseless duel, just after she's agreed to marry him without love but with the hope of forging a new life instead of yearning for the dream she realize will never materialize. With the Russian Revolution beckoning on the very near horizon, she sees some hope in work as a way to give some meaning to the life she is determined to go on living. Her oldest sister Olga underscores this, concluding with: "No, my dear sisters, our lives aren't finished yet" and a plaintive "soon we shall know why we live, why we suffer...Oh, if we only knew, if only we knew!"

Naturalness: You are only yourself when no one's watching. ---Suzan-Lori Parks's Topdog/Underdog

This is a play about family wounds and healing. Welcome to the family
Suzan-Lori Parks, about Topdog/Underdog, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama the day after its official Broadway opening. (posted 4/13/02)

Women's Role: I am a woman who has no place to go, but I'm going, and after a while I will ask myself why I took my mother's two children to be my own.
Anna Berniers in Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic being given a lovely revival at the Pearl Theatre in the East Village (Posted 1/14/07)
Destiny: Destiny seems to get up very early and go to bed late at night --Madame Sylvie, Act 1, Transit of Venus by Maureen Hunter. The Canadian playwright's love story imagined from accounts of a real life French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil de la Galasiere's eleven year effort to chart the transit of Venus. Madame Sylvie is the astronomer's crusty and cynical mother who while convent trained, has little faith in God's reliability, as evidenced in a later statement that" God will not give anything without taking away something." The play had its American premiere as part Berkshire Theatre Festival's summer '98 season.

Life, Deferred: I'm tired of being stuck in this fluffy gown waiting for a man who's always late --Celeste, Act 2, Transit of Venus by Maureen Hunter. Celeste's exasperation is understandable when you consider that the French astronomer she loves has kept her waiting around for years, and is now ready to embark on another journey. As played by Maryn Hinkle, Celeste's emergence from trembling virgin to a woman refusing to be denied a real life by a man who puts his worldly pursuits before their love, is the play's strongest suite. She re-states her dissatisfaction with "I'm sick to death of making do with dreams and a phantom loverand of being a book stuck on a shelf -- unread." Nevertheless she agrees to wait through another journey for her astronomer lover and waiting at home, but with this proviso: "I won't go on forever competing with the universe."

Revolutionaries: I learned three things . . .during the war. . .Firstly, you're either a revolutionary or you're not, and if you're not you might as well be an artist as anything else. Secondly, if you can't be an artist, you might as well be a revolutionary. I forget the third thing -- Henry Carr in Tom Stoppard's Travesties.

Appreciation: Henchmen are forgotten once their dirty work is done Self -- This is the title and leitmotiv of an Act 2 duet sung by the gardener and the Harlequin in Triumph of Love,the musical.

Fate:  I knew he could have been me. If I hadn't had the good fortune of being born a Jew I might well have been sitting where he was sitting . . .I, too am capable of becoming enamored of idea or idealogies. -- Lisa Kron quoting her father during his stint as a US interrogator of suspected Nazi war criminals during World War II in her one-person serio-comic 2.5 Minute Ride which premiered in Spring 1999 at the Public Theatre.

Life--its passing:I've lost a whole life of stitches in this house.A whole life. That's what gets to me. So many days gone. . .I could knit a whole bedspread for this island with all the lost days -- Sofia, who is a political prisoner in Two Sisters and a Piano.

They say I was born with luck. They didn't say what kind.—Wolf in August Wilson's Two Trains Running.

Accusations:You ruined my life you sonuvabitch! I am just as gifted as you -- just as intelligent. I'd send you my short stories and you'd give me your phony praise because you knew I'd keep sending you your goddam checks. But you also filled me with false hopes because you knew that if I was published I would eclipse you! Deny it! Go ahead -- deny it! You told me I wrote like Cheever. Like Mailer. . I BELIEVED YOU!--Jonathan "Jack" Vaughn, Uncle Jack, Act Three by Jeff Cohen, produced at SoHo Rep in 1999.

Life. I've wasted my lifea belief shared by all the unhappy people in Chekhov's classic tragi-comedy Uncle Vanya.

Discomfort: In my easy chair I was anything but. --Captain Josiah Wickett in The Uneasy Chair.

The crotchety Wickett comes to Miss Pickles' parlor as a tenant end up her husband in a marriage that leads a a judge to accuse them of having "done more harm to matrimony than anyone since Henry the Eighth."

Public Taste: I don't think too many people are going to come and see this musical.
Why do you say that, Little Sally? Don't you think people want to be told that their way of life is unsustainable?.---an exchange between Officer Lockstock and Little Sally in Urinetown, the first Broadway opening afterthe September 11th, 2001 tragedy. And exactly the kind of musical people were glad they came to see.

Talkativeness: . . .nothing can kill a show like too much exposition -- Officer Lockstock
How about bad subject matter? Or a bad title? That could kill a show pretty good -- Little Sally
An exchange by the comic commentators of Manhattan's unlikeliest new musical comedy hit Urinetown

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Honesty: .. .Honest men
Are the soft easy Cushion on which Knaves
Repose and fatten
--Pierre, Act 1 of Thomas Otway's Venice Preserv'd. Pierre is answering his friend Jaffeir's quandary how "that damn'd starving Quality Call'd Honesty, got footing in the World." Both young men live in a corrupt society dominated by ineffectual politicians. Pierre will soon enlist his friend in a plot to overthrow this regime. Otway, while famous in his day, has been overshadowed by Shakespeare and even this, his masterpiece, is rarely performed. That's why the Pearl Repertory Theatre deserves commendation for mounting this and other often forgotten plays. Review

Dependability: Clocks will go as they are set; But Man,
Irregular Man's ne'ere constant, never certain --Renault, Act 2 of Thomas Otway's Venice Preserv'd. Renault is the leader of the conspirators who are planning to overthrow the corrupt and ineffective Senate, yet he himself is not above the weakness of the flesh, having tried to make love to a would-be conspirator's wife.

Places/Ideas:  Are we where we live or are we what we think? What matters? Stones or ideas?
-- David Hare's final question in the play/travelogue, Via Dolorosa,which he wrote and starred in for a limited Spring 1999 run at the Booth Theater.

Warnings: There are times when you want to spread an alarm -- A View From the Bridge>Act 1. The times thus described are when you know something terrible is going to happen, but there's nothing you can do to prevent it since you have no firm facts.

Personal Traits: He allowed himself to be wholly known --Alfieri in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Act 2. In his summary speech, this is the characteristic the narra as he could his "more sensible clients."

You know what your trouble is, John? You have no spirit of ruin. . .---Denis McCleary, the Fitzgerald-like novelist in The Violet Hour when his fledgling publisher friend hesitates to risk publishing his book.

We swell about in a vortex of beastliness.
---Noël Coward's Nicky in a revival of The Vortex

Money: In this world one is either the master or servant of money
-- Mr. Voysey, Sr., a solicitor who's mastered the manipulation of money without undue stress on his conscience in The Voysey Inheritance

Helplessness: Nothing to be done— Go Go in Waiting for Godot

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Ideas:Ideas have their place, undoubtedly. We need them to draw upon. But the stateman's task is the accommodation of stubborn facts to shifting circumstance and in effect to the practical capacities of the average stupid man. Democracy involves admission of that. -- Blackborough, one of a half dozen uncannily up-to-date British politicians, circa 1907 in Harley Granville Barker's Waste.

April: April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain --T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land starts out like many a conversation, talking about, well, yes, the weather. It's good reception as a mono-drama for the British actress Fiona Shaw (at the Liberty theater) was as surprising as the weather can be. It's not an easy poem to read, nor is it a laugh-it-up, straight entertainment theater piece. Compelling? Yes! And, some thought something less than an evening's entertainment...considering its 35-minute running time.

Aging, and men: Men age so well. It really is just enough to make you sick..
--- Helen, played by Kate Burton in Water's Edge.

Relationships. I'm not sure I've ever felt complete with anyone . . . not even myself . . . especially not myself
--Kate who used to feel complete with Chris (and maybe will again!) in Katherine Tolan's modern drawing room farce, The Wax

Illness: The culture of illness is so strong in my familythat it's the way we keep time ---Lisa Kron, whose meta-theatrical exploration of wellness and illness in individuals and community, is hilariously (and often touchingly) taken over by her well and yet unwell mother. From Well.

Sanity. The purpose of my husband's clinic isn't to cure, but to liberate and exploit madness -- Mrs. Prentice, in Joe Orton's >What The Butler Saw revived by The New Group

Death: Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low
And soonest our best men with thee do go,Popular Celebrated heads of state or especially great communicators
Did they have brains or knowledge? Don't make me laugh!
They were Popular! Please!
It's all about Popular!
It's not about aptitude, it's the way you're viewed
So it's very shrewd to be
Very very Popular, like me.

— From " Popular" by Galinda in Wicked.

Rest of their bones and soul's delivery. --John Donne quoted by the Donne scholar at the center of Margaret Edson's Wit.

Change. I can't change my body, but I can have a new voice. --Alma in Yellowman
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