The Uta Hagen Technique
Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen
chapter one - concept
- An actor needs: talent, imagination, a grip on reality, desire to communicate, character and ethics, point of view, understanding of human behavior, total discipline.
- An actor must: train and perfect the outer instrument; body, voice, speech, AND must have a thorough education in other studies.
- Stan says: love the art in yourself not yourself in the art.
chapter two - identity
- Know WHO you are and find your own sense of identity SO you can bring about a genuine life for a character.
- Your inner image of yourself may not match your outer; find awareness of TOTAL self in ALL situations.
- Get to know and accept yourself.
- Be able to connect feeling to behavior; learn to pinpoint your responses and resulting behaviors.
- Fill a warehouse with sources upon which to draw for construction of character. Object exercises (C11 – 20) help build self-awareness.
- Aim for a cat’s spontaneity; unanticipated involvement in the moment.
- Your own identity and self knowledge are the main sources for the characters you play.
- You experience most human emotions by age 18.
- Read, visit, look at paintings, etc, to put self into situation.
- Be self aware not self conscious; don’t be regular.
chapter three - substitution
- Find yourself in a part vs. losing yourself in a part.
- Substitution: transference from your own experiences and remembrances; put them in place of the fiction of the play.
- Mostly done intuitively.
- Sub is not an end in itself; it’s a way of bringing about justified, personal, character actions.
- Particularization vs. generalization.
chapter four - emotional memory
- Sub in order to release that big burst of tears, shriek of terror, etc.
- EMOTION OCCURS WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS TO US WHICH MOMENTARILY SUSPENDS OUR REASONING CONTROL AND WE ARE UNABLE TO COPE WITH THE EVENT LOGICALLY.
- Uta uses a RELEASE OBJECT to bring about emotion; trigger objects; a verbal or physical action (fist) can also be used.
- There’s no time to wander through past adventures; one should not be forced to deal with something buried.
chapter five - sense memory
- A recalling of physical sensations; easier to recall than emotions.
- Concentrate on a body part. EX. don’t think “hot”, focus on underarms: perspiration, sweaty, stickiness; attempt to overcome heat; adjust blouse; whole body will feel hot. For “cold”, focus on chill on back of neck; adjust to get warm; overcome sensation.
- Stimulate the Remembrance; fight against the sensation in one focused area (drunk - fight to be sober)
- Strengthen with the magic “if”.
chapter six - five senses
- Don’t take senses for granted.
- Cologne could make you remember old boyfriend; use it.
- Alert taste buds for taste of liquor.
- Heighten and sharpen the five senses.
chapter seven - thinking
- Real thinking precedes, is accompanied by, and follows action.
- Real thinking is active.
- Get out of the habit of verbally analyzing your thought process.
- Ask not what you’re thinking but what are your inner objects.
- To act is to do; not think.
- Actor’s thinking depends on the subjective process of weighing the course of action by a contact with inner and outer objects; give and take with the other.
chapter eight - walking and talking
- The reason for walking is destination.
- Total animation of the body is about correctly incorporating the surrounding circumstances.
- Action of words: how you send them, for what purpose and to whom, under what circumstances- what do you want or need at the moment.
- Physical and verbal must balance.
chapter nine - improvisation
- Used for a better understanding of the reality of the character, circumstances, time and place, emotions, and varied action.
chapter 10 - reality
- Truth in life is not truth on stage; Ex. you can’t really hurt someone.
- You must adjust to tell the story.
Sample Acting Exercises by Uta Hagen
- Three Entrances: the preparation for, and the making of, an entrance utilizing: What did I just do? What am I doing right now? What’s the first thing I want?
- Three Objects: Place 3 objects in a room. Decide on time, place, surroundings, given circumstances (past, present, future), relationship, main objective, immediate objectives, obstacles, actions. Enter the room, using Three Entrances. Make the 3 objects a part of the “story” and deal with them individually as the story unfolds.