"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, the late Uta Hagen joined the faculty of the HB Studio in 1947. Since then, teaching was always a challenge for her, as well as for the many prominent actors whom shehelped to develop. For many years, she was asked to write a book. Finally she did, and 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 actors and audiences 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 never hesitated to throw herself into a good fight for a better offering in the theater in "the time of her life."
"This fascinating and detailed book about acting is Miss Hagen's credo, the accumulated wisdom of her years spent in intimate communion with her art. It is at once the voicing of her exacting standards for herself and those she [taught], and an explanation of the means to the end." (Publishers Weekly)
"Hagen adds to the large corpus of titles on acting with vivid dicta drawn from experience, skill, and a sense of personal and professional worth. Her principal asset in this treatment is her truly significant imagination. Her 'object exercises' display a wealth of detail with which to stimulate the student preparing a scene for presentation." (Library Journal)
"Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting... is a relatively small book. But within it, Miss Hagen tells the young actor about as much as can be conveyed in print of his craft." (Los Angeles Times)
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