Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard

Sir Tom Stoppard (3 July 1937) is a Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. 

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A healthy attitude is contagious, but don't wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.

Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled, not for its own sake but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning it.

I've seldom minded other people's opinions but the other side of that coin is that I've seldom been interested by them um their opinions about me I mean.

Every exit is an entry somewhere else.

It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting.

Good things when short are twice as good.

It's better to be quotable than to be honest.

The fact is I loved being English. I was very happy to be turned into an English schoolboy.

It is better to be quotable than to be honest.

Get me inside any boardroom and I'll get any decision I want.

I read for interest and enjoyment and when I cease to enjoy it I stop.

I don't keep a diary and I throw away nearly all the paper I might have kept. I don't keep an archive. There's something worrying about my make-up that I try to leave no trace of myself apart from my plays.

I'm attracted to the past.

The days of the digital watch are numbered.

Life is a gamble at terrible odds - if it was a bet you wouldn't take it.

I burn with no causes.

I never had any frustration about writing uncredited. I always felt that the satisfaction of doing it was in the doing of it really and getting recognised by the small number of people that know what you did.

I write plays because writing dialogue is the only respectable way of contradicting yourself. I put a position rebut it refute the rebuttal and rebut the refutation.

A movie camera is like having someone you have a crush on watching you from afar - you pretend it's not there.

I'm so grateful to grab hold of something that wants to be a play. It doesn't happen very often. I don't have unwritten plays waiting for their turn.

It was a different planet in 1967 the Broadway theatre. It had a little ashtray clamped to the back of every seat and the author got 10% of the gross.

James Joyce - an essentially private man who wished his total indifference to public notice to be universally recognized.

Well I believe in the desirability of an optimal society.

I don't think Stoppardian has a precise definition.

We give advice by the bucket but take it by the grain.

If the audience is made to do not enough work they resent it without knowing it. Too much and they get lost. There's a perfect pace to be found. And a perfect place that is different for every line of the play.

In the theater there is often a tension almost a contradiction between the way real people would think and behave and a kind of imposed dramaticness.

If enough things that are untrue are said about you no one will know what really is true.

My work always tried to unite the true with the beautiful, but when I had to choose one or the other I usually chose the beautiful.

I'm a conservative kind of person. I don't think rightwing is quite the same thing. But I acknowledge my conservatism of temperament.

I still believe that if your aim is to change the world journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.

I think that the present is worth attention one shouldn't sacrifice it to future conceptions of of this future or that future.

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

Fatherlessness didn't strike me as being an event. It was a state of life.

I'm hopeless at looking into myself and trying to see how things are working and why.

Any revival in which I am involved is liable to change.

I cannot say that I write with any social objective. One writes because one loves writing really.

Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them.

The fact is that people are attracted to new work and by new work.

I've got no interest in educating or instructing people.

The whole notion of journalism being an institution whose fundamental purpose is to educate and inform and even one might say elevate has altered under commercial pressure perhaps into a different kind of purpose which is to divert and distract and entertain.

If you associate enough with older people who do enjoy their lives who are not stored away in any golden ghettos you will gain a sense of continuity and of the possibility for a full life.

The bad end unhappily the good unluckily. That is what tragedy means.

From as long as literally as far back as I can remember I've liked puns word jokes I can literally recall looking at a comic at the age of six or seven and I remember what I enjoyed and what it was precisely and how the joke worked.

The whole philosophy of modern times is to dissolve distinctions between individuals and deal with them as large collections of people. It's essentially self-interested on the part of authority.

I don't act, I don't direct, I don't design.

If you carry your childhood with you you never become older.

I can't remember what my first script was.

Back in the East you can't do much without the right papers but with the right papers you can do anything The believe in papers. Papers are power.

I write scenes - often quite long scenes - mainly because I still get seduced into writing six lines where one and a half will do.

The House of Lords an illusion to which I have never been able to subscribe - responsibility without power the prerogative of the eunuch throughout the ages.

I was interested by the idea that artists working in a totalitarian dictatorship or tsarist autocracy are secretly and slightly shamefully envied by artists who work in freedom. They have the gratification of intense interest: the authorities want to put them in jail while there are younger readers for whom what they write is pure oxygen.

I write out of my intellectual experience.

I feel overestimated.

I take every possible side.

From principles is derived probability but truth or certainty is obtained only from facts.

I was delighted to not go to university. I couldn't wait to be out of education.

Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.

We're actors. We're the opposite of people.

The idea of the state is or should be a very limited prescribed idea. The state looks after the defense of the realm and other matters - raising revenue to pay for things which are for all of us and so on. That idea has turned turtle now. The state isn't any longer perceived as an institution which exists to serve us.

My whole life is waiting for the questions to which I have prepared answers.

Life in a box is better than no life at all... I expect.

My life feels week to week incomplete to the level of being pointless if I am not in preparation for the next play or ideally into it.

Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean where's it all going to end?

I'm vaguely embarrassed by myself sometimes.

For a long time I managed to think two things simultaneously that I am actually a good playwright and that the next time I write a play I will be revealed as someone who is no good at all.

Revolution is a trivial shift in the emphasis of suffering.

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

The media. It sounds like a convention of spiritualists.

I consider myself to be a very fortunate person and to have led a very fortunate life.

It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it's a painting and if you can walk around it it's a sculpture.

When I think of how things could have turned out I feel as if I've dodged not just bullets but 6mm shells.

A great production of a black comedy is better than a mediocre production of a comedy of errors.

I was so thrilled being a reporter because it gave you the kind of access to people that you wouldn't ever get to meet.

I'm offended by things and take pathetic little stands against them.

I'm a very boring person.

I think age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

Theater is still a medium which attracts young writers. You'd think that it would be all over by now with television and film. But it's not.

You can't but know that if you can capture the emotions of the audience as well as their minds the play will work better because it's a narrative art form.

I like pop music. I consider rock 'n' roll to be a branch of pop music.

I write for film or in this case television when I haven't got a play cooking.

As a playwright you can cover a lot of waterfront without being able to hold your own against an expert in any of those areas. I have no illusions about that.

It is better of course to know useless things than to know nothing.