For those not familiar with this series: I extrapolate quotations from those who influence me strongly to apply to playwrighting and theater. And life.
[on committing to your characters] There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death.
[on research] There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
[on playwrighting] It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
[on writing] I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing — to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics — Well, they can do whatever they wish.
[on work ethic] If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
[on believing in yourself] Happiness is doing it rotten your own way.
[on artistic directors – with love] Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.
[on writing characters] All you have to do is take a close look at yourself and you will understand everyone else.
[on certain genres] Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
[on writing dialogue] Speech, originally, was the device whereby Man learned, imperfectly, to transmit the thoughts and emotions of his mind. By setting up arbitrary sounds and combinations of sounds to represent certain mental nuances, he developed a method of communication–but one which in its clumsiness and thick-thumbed inadequacy degenerated all the delicacy of the mind into gross and gutteral signaling.
[prompt – couldn’t help myself] The advance of genetic engineering makes it quite conceivable that we will begin to design our own evolutionary progress.
[on the world of the play] It is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works.
[on believing in your voice] I discovered, to my amazement, that all through history there had been resistance … and bitter, exaggerated, last-stitch resistance … to every significant technological change that had taken place on earth. Usually the resistance came from those groups who stood to lose influence, status, money…as a result of the change. Although they never advanced this as their reason for resisting it. It was always the good of humanity that rested upon their hearts.
[on adaptation] It is almost impossible to think of something no one has thought of before, but it is always possible to add different frills.
[on the inciting incident] What is really amazing, and frustrating, is mankind’s habit of refusing to see the obvious and inevitable until it is there, and then muttering about unforseen catastrophes.
[and my current favorite] All life is nucleic acid; the rest is commentary.