An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
Where choice begins, Paradise ends, innocence ends, for what is Paradise but the absence of any need to choose this action?
My conception of the audience is of a public each member of which is carrying about with him what he thinks is an anxiety, or a hope, or a preoccupation which is his alone and isolates him from mankind; and in this respect at least the function of a play is to reveal him to himself so that he may touch others by virtue of the revelation of his mutuality with them. If only for this reason I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone.
Topics: Audiences, Praise
I cannot sleep for dreaming; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you coming through some door.
The job is to ask questions—it always was—and to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility.
Look, we’re all the same; a man is a fourteen-room house—in the bedroom he’s asleep with his intelligent wife, in the living-room he’s rolling around with some bareass girl, in the library he’s paying his taxes, in the yard he’s raising tomatoes, and in the cellar he’s making a bomb to blow it all up.
Topics: Virtues, Character, Men
Without alienation, there can be no politics.
If I have any justification for having lived it’s simply, I’m nothing but faults, failures and so on, but I have tried to make a good pair of shoes. There’s some value in that.
Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
In the theater, while you recognized that you were looking at a house, it was a house in quotation marks. On screen, the quotation marks tend to be blotted out by the camera.
A good newspaper is a nation talking to itself.
Glamour, that trans-human aura or power to attract imitation, is a kind of vessel into which dreams are poured, and some vessels are simply worthier than others… A beautiful woman can turn heads but real glamour has a deeper pull… Glamour is the power to rearrange people’s emotions, which, in effect, is the power to control one’s environment.
Fear, like love, is difficult to explain after it has subsided, probably because it draws away the veils of illusion as it disappears.
Well, all the plays that I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away from.
I’m the end of the line; absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime.
The closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment, which is to say the closer he approaches what in life we call fanaticism.
By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more and not merely to spend our feelings.
Topics: Audiences, Theater
The concentration camp is the final expression of human separateness and its ultimate consequence. It is organized abandonment.
Nobody dast blame this man. For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.
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.
A playwright is the litmus paper of the arts. He’s got to be, because if he isn’t working on the same wave length as the audience, no one would know what in hell he was talking about. He is a kind of psychic journalist, even when he’s great.
A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.
I love her too, but our neuroses just don’t match.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Tennessee Williams American Playwright
- Marsha Norman American Playwright
- William Motter Inge American Playwright
- Thornton Wilder American Novelist, Dramatist
- Harvey Fierstein American Actor
- Lillian Hellman American Playwright
- Clare Boothe Luce American Playwright
- Wilson Mizner American Playwright
- Mel Brooks American Film Actor
- George Bernard Shaw Irish Playwright