By reading Mrs. Hagen's theories on acting skills and techniques, I felt, as an actress myself, the strenghth, courage and proudness of having encountered such usefull and helpful "tips". Her generosity has inspired many young actors to fully understand the meaning of the word "respect" towards the acting profession. It was a pleasure to read and an honour to be reviewing this essential actor's "must-have" hand book. Thumbs up, and thank the Gods of the Theater for having people like Mrs. Hagen guiding us actors not to sucumb to mediocre acting. Many actors in Brazil have read and applauded Mrs. Hagen's books.
Uta Hagen has long been considered one of "our" best. Here she examines what makes a human being "tick" and how an actor can use this to enhance his/her performance. Too many times books on acting tend to be very bland, and uninformative. Or even worse, they tend to take an almost clinical approach to our art, making it impossible to enjoy, and almost equally impossible to learn. Having read many books on technique, I would consider this one of the best. Unlike Stanislavski's trilogy, which to me is like reading a science textbook, it doesn't bore the reader while trying to teach him, but rather inspires the artist to a greater understanding of his art and himself as an artist. In the book, she challenges us to work to achieve a higher form of theatre, one that works collaboratively, not individually. In summation, all I can say is that, for me, she speaks to my soul.
This book is often talked about as THE book to read regarding acting. It is written from Uta Hagen's point of view as an Actress and so it is from the 'horses mouth' and is very readable. Our Tutor recommended it as the book for our Stanislavski class to get at City Lit (a large London college) and it has been very useful.
I am currently on a Drama Foundation course and have found this work really useful. It sets out the rudiments of technique, such as sense memory recall, endowment, using the fourth wall and so forth, and even delves into role creation. A requisite in the actor's armoury.
First, it is not "by David Hyde Pierce" as claimed by the review-request email! (He wrote the intro.) It's by the late, great Uta Hagen -- acting teacher extroadinaire. The book has inspired pretty much every decent American actor that walked the earth so let it inspire you. Find out what method acting is REALLY about (it's not about larding up for a role, staying in character for 6 months or running around the block to get sweaty... it's really about find aspects of yourself you can blow up and use). Her exercises are great -- watch her video on Youtube with students doing them, and her straight but comforting critiques. The exercises alone inspired me to write a 30-minute piece for a local festival, telling a full story with one actor in one location -- talking to himself and on the phone. Uta was the actor's Jesus. Every actor should read this to really get a handle on what acting is, how an actor should think. And every so often you will ask yourself, "What would Uta do?".
This book has been with me for 20 years now ever since I first came across it during my student days at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. I have used it then as it should be used, as a way to put the roots into your charector, to give him or her life and then to forget it. The mere act of going through the guidelines that this marvellous actress teaches us is enough. The rest of course is just acting and should remain mysterious! A brilliant bible for the actor!
Just... inspiring. Hagen is revolutionary in terms of providing the actor with detailed, effective methods on how to bring truth to a character and the play. Her anecdotes are highlights of this gifted book and supplies an explanation to certain aspects that maybe perceived as confusing. However, the basis of her technique just frees me, personally, as an actor and I am still in development. It seems so obvious now but she teaches you that the best actors are finely tuned with their senses 27/4 and they observe their reactions, feelings and emotions and what the do in that state in order to bring life to the stage. She states also in her DVD "If I go to the theatre and I can see the acting - I already don't like it". It is such a shame that in 2004 we lost such a great actress and this book just preserves her spirit and enthusiasm for the craft of acting. There is no choice if you are an actor - you MUST get it. 1 million stars ;)
As an actor, I have found myself unable to describe how I feel towards a scene or how/why I reacted the way I did. The choices I made sometimes were not the best. Uta Hagen's book has been the understanding I needed along with the edge I desired. Thank You Uta Hagen