- 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: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 145 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Respect for Acting 1st Edition
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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."
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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ACTIONS: You leap out of bed and flaunt your behind in your thin nightie at the peeping Tom, before yanking the curtains together and putting on your gorgeous robe. You turn the clock to the wall so that your lateness won't rattle you. You empty your friend's ashtray in the attempt to get him off your mind. You look for an aspirin for your headache, etc., etc.
(1) Flashing your ass to a Peeping Tom might have been cute and innocent in '43 or '53, but by '73, when Adler wrote the book? Actually dangerous, psychotic, drug-addled creeps had clearly come out in full force by '73; you don't flash them. (p.s. What poor young acting kid has a "gorgeous robe"?)
(2) NEVER have I, or anyone else I've known, physically "turned the clock to the wall" when we know we're late. Ridiculous.
(3) My emptying of ashtrays has always been an attempt to merely clean up the apartment. Looking at foreign (not my) butts might bring up a brief thought of who else had been there the night before smoking, but... specifically emptying an ashtray to "get someone off your mind"?
Overall, quite boring and literal stuff like "how do you feel when you've come home tired after a hard day of auditions --- how do your tired feet feel? what do you do when you get home?" (In Hagen's world, struggling 20-year-old actors come home and prepare a soothing foot-bath and gin-and-tonic as opposed to just grabbing a beer out of the fridge and lying down on the second-hand sofa.)
The majority of the book is full of such scenarios. Either Hagen is sitting in her pristine garden waiting for the annoying co-author of this book to show up, or she's imagining how young actors live in 1973 (the year the book was written, when Hagen was 53 and long past her salad days). Maybe 5% of the book is actually interesting anecdotes about her own experiences in the theater and what they taught her.
As an actor, you can read hundreds of books about technique and exercises, but acting is an art of individuality. This book is not necessarily technique-oriented in the traditional sense, but rather provides a framework upon which an actor can build and refer to in their "bag of tricks".
I highly recommend this to any student of the art of acting.
I've a few other acting books (Acting for Film and Television [Benedetti], Acting in Film [Michael Caine], even Ivana Chubbuck and David Mamet). Uta Hagen ranks in there with all of them for understanding acting.
Recommend for an actor with some knowledge of acting, or for the lay man looking to learn more about, and develop respect for acting (pun intended...)