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Respect for Acting 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5555032309
ISBN-10: 0025473905
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In her introduction to Respect for Acting, actress and teacher Uta Hagen talks about a time when she herself had no respect for the art of acting. "I used to accept opinions such as: 'You're just born to be an actor'; 'Actors don't really know what they're doing on stage'; 'Acting is just instinct--it can't be taught.'" But this attitude of "you got it or you don't" is fundamentally one that denigrates the craft, as she points out. Great actors do not perform effortlessly, or merely through learning the appropriate tricks and cheats to manipulate an audience. Great acting is about the difficult fusion of intellect and action--about sincerely and truthfully connecting to the moment, your fellow actors, and the audience--and Hagen's thoughtful and profound book contains a series of observations and exercises to help an actor do just that. Her prose style is admirably clear and filled with examples from her own lengthy career both as a performer and in the classroom. While her exercises in sense memory and basic objects skirt close to the sort of self-absorption that followers of "the Method" are routinely accused of, they are presented clearly and with a focus on practical results. And in such places as her chapter "Practical Problems," which includes discussions of stage nerves and how to stay fresh in a long run, her straightforward advice is invaluable. --John Longenbaugh

From the Inside Flap

"I have attempted to break down all the areas in which you can work and search for realities in yourself which serve the character and the play…. Put your instincts and sense of truth, your understanding of human realities to use while probing and grappling with the content and the roots of the material. Be specific and real in your actions, and they will communicate your artistic statement. Bring your universal understanding of the present to the present … as a real artist."
—Uta Hagen

At the invitation of Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen joined the faculty of the HB Studio in 1947. Since then, teaching has always been a challenge for her, as well as for the many prominent actors whom she has helped to develop. For many years, she has been asked to write a book. Now, here it is: an account of her own struggle with the techniques of acting and based on her teachings.

The first part, "The Actor," deals with techniques that set an actor in motion physically, verbally, and emotionally. It deals with the actor's concept of himself and with the art of acting, as well as with the ethics that have made the theater what it is today and what it could be tomorrow. Part Two, "The Object Exercises," offers specific and detailed work for the actor, covering a broad range of his problems. Part Three, "The Play and the Role," concerns itself with the definition of the play and identification with the character the actor will undertake. It also covers practical problems, the rehearsal, "style," and communication. Respect for Acting is a book for people who respect (or wish they could) the theater on both sides of the footlights, for actor and audience who favor truth in a creative process. The constructive stages of work delve into performance as well as into the issues surrounding a necessary change in the theater. It is all quite authentic, since Uta Hagen has never hesitated to throw herself into a good fight for a better offering in the theater in "the time of her life."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; 1 edition (September 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025473905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025473904
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have had the great pleasure and privilege of seeing Uta Hagen perform in plays by Edward Albee, Donald Margulies and George Bernard Shaw. She is surely one of the finest actors of our time. I have also had the great pleasure and privilege of studying for four years with Uta in the school she helped create with her late husband, Herbert Berghof (the famous HB Studio in New York City). I can assure you that she is one of the finest teachers of our time. It is a very rare actor who can actually communicate as a fine teacher. Uta is one of those very few who do just that.
In this, her first book, she lays out a "blueprint" for actors which, as surely as a blueprint by an architect, can be followed by those actors who are novices or those who have great experience. No, she cannot give you talent, but she can (and does) show you the how and why to use your talent to serve the playwright.
She believes in acting as an Art and this "how-to book" is invested with the love and respect of its title. It can be read and enjoyed and actually used by actors. It can also be read and enjoyed and relished by lovers of fine theatre who do not happen to be actors. It would make a terrific gift for any young actor along with the only books I would rate as its equal: Constantin Stanislavski's "An Actor Prepares" and his "Building A Character." It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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By A Customer on July 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Uta Hagen has a great writing style, and "Respect for Acting" is clear and easy-to-read. She has many wonderful ideas, and I would definitely recommend this book to aspiring actors.
However, her methods (particularily sense and emotional memory) don't work for everyone. Be sure to also read Meisner, Clurman or Adler for more ideas, and find out what methods work for you.
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, I would like to let you know in advance that I'm not really a book person. I'll clarify and respond the best of my abilities. When I first read Respect for Acting, I was amazed at the authority with which Ms. Hagen wrote her book. The more I read, though, the more I began to understand this authority. Incorporating basic acting concepts, individual "object exercises," and methods for working on a character in a play. I particularly enjoyed the specificity of the writing, and the means by which Ms. Hagen explained every statement she made. I think this novel is a brilliant piece of work.
Uta Hagen has an excellent writing method, and "Respect for Acting" is understandable and effortless to read. She has many amazing ideas. In her introduction to "Respect for Acting", actress and teacher Uta Hagen talks about a time when she herself had no respect for the art of acting. I learned that great actors do not perform naturally, or merely through learning the appropriate tricks and cheats to influence an audience. Great acting is about the difficult mixture of intellect and action about sincerely and truthfully connecting to the moment, you're fellow actors, and the audience and Hagen's thoughtful and reflective book contains a sequence of observations and exercises to help an actor do just that.
Her writing style is very clear and filled with examples from her own lengthy profession both as a performer and in the classroom. While her exercises in sense memory and basic objects skirt close to the sort of self-absorption that followers of "the Method" are routinely accused of, they are presented clearly and with a focus on practical results. And in such places as her chapter "Practical Problems," which includes deliberations of stage nervous tension and how to stay fresh in a long run, her straightforward advice is invaluable.
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Format: Hardcover
An amazing overview as well as in depth book on acting. Her exercises, expiriences and teachings are incredibly usefull for an actor of any age and any level. An absolute classic. I am currently enrolled at Julliard as a drama major and this book is my Acting Bible.
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Format: Hardcover
...fortunately for anyone who might want the benefit of some of the late Ms. Hagen's acting advice, her writing improved enormously and her second book 'A Challenge For The Actor' (published in 1991) shows her capacity to grow as a scribe as well as a thespian. I would recommend that an aspiring acting student, especially one who is early in his or her career purchase 'A Challenge For The Actor' instead of 'Respect For Acting' as is 'A Challenge For The Actor' far less muddled and obtuse than 'Respect For Acting'
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