The only advice I ever give actors is to learn to speak clearly, to project your voice without shouting — and to move about the stage gracefully, without bumping into people.

Noël Coward (1899-1973) English playwright, actor, wit
Quoted in Leonard Lyons, “The Lyons Den” syndicated column (16 Aug 1954)

Variants attributed to Coward:
  • "You ask my advice about acting? Speak clearly, don't bump into the furniture and if you must have motivation, think of your pay packet on Friday."
  • "Just say the lines and don't trip over the furniture." [Dick Richards, The Wit of Noël Coward (1968)]
Alternately, another Lyons Den column (24 Jan 1955) quoted Lynn Fontanne, in talking about her acting style with her husband Alfred Lunt:

We read the lines so that people can hear and understand them; we move about the stage without bumping into the furniture or each other; and, well that’s it.

Coward and Fontanne were good friends, and may well have discussed the concepts here previously, or shared the idea one to the other.

The quote is also attributed to Lunt, and to Spencer Tracy.

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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Mar-22
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