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Respect for Acting

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"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 teaches, and an explanation of the means to the end. For those unable to avail themselves of her personal tutelage, her book is the best substitute."

227 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 1973

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Uta Hagen

8 books54 followers

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5 stars
1,310 (44%)
4 stars
1,031 (34%)
3 stars
477 (16%)
2 stars
102 (3%)
1 star
30 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews
Profile Image for Beth.
22 reviews8 followers
August 6, 2012
The "method" explained in understandable terms by a great acting teacher. She was my teacher and when I teach, I use this book as an important resource. If you are even considering being an actor, you should read this.
Profile Image for B.
259 reviews18 followers
April 20, 2010
This is one of those books that I wish I had read 10 years ago and yet I picked it up at the most appropriate time to guide me through figuring out the most difficult role I've had to play yet. Her chapter on emotion has been invaluable. She reprimands the "modern" actor so effectively too! (This book was written in the 70s, but everything is still perfectly usable. When it feels dated is in the language of the decade and then it only serves to endear me towards her more.) I loved getting a good scolding from Uta. She knows actors so well, our tricks, our excuses, our bad habits. Ugh. Thank you. I needed to be yelled at and knocked down a few notches. This book makes me want to go back to school and learn with her, though some of her exercises I think would make me go absolutely crazy.

I immediately want to start reading it again and take better notes this time. Maybe I'll read this book every time I start rehearsal for a new play. I guess I must read her next book too. Uta Hagen is my new hero.
Profile Image for Magdalena Golden.
193 reviews12 followers
February 26, 2014
This is only the second book on acting I have read so far, the first one being Stanislavski's An Actor Prepares, so naturally I've been comparing the two a lot while reading. Although Uta Hagen's approach is definitely in line with Stanislavski's method, the book itself is very different. I love how she stresses the craft part of acting. Not that Stanislavski's book doesn't cover it as well, but in much less detail and I found "Respect for acting" to have a highly practical and no-nonsense feel to it, which I greatly enjoyed.
August 24, 2020
Like other books I've read on acting, I enjoyed the lyrical, beautiful style with which this whole books was executed as much as I enjoyed the practical instruction it communicated. I read this book on my own, and worked through all the object exercises on my own, and I felt that they likely would have been more useful as Hagen originally employed them: in a classroom with presentation and criticism. That being said, I fully intend to repeat the exercises on my own. When I first got this book, I had trouble taking it seriously because the cover looks a lot like the 'confused maths lady'.
Profile Image for James.
40 reviews33 followers
December 6, 2015
Uta's occasional (or not) pretentiousness aside, her tone is full of enthusiasm. As intent as she may seem upon making her techniques clear, I see her overall objective as encouraging deeper thought for acting, and in doing so, generating greater respect for the craft. So while I may disagree with some of the finer points, I can't help but appreciate the effort and passion. I've found it helpful to treat this book not as an Acting Bible as some would seem to encourage, but rather picking and choosing what works for me, where I am in my work right now. It's always developing, and I'm sure some things I think are worthless now will make more sense later down the road, and vice versa. Worth a read for any actor--even if it's just for a familiarity with the vocabulary, as Hagen's definitions have become something of an industry standard.
Profile Image for Angela.
579 reviews26 followers
April 28, 2018
Good basic instructions on acting technique from one of Broadway's leading actresses. Ms. Hagen is noted for her "Nine Questions" exercise in defining one's character. Many of the directors I've worked with assign this exercise as preparation for a role. Reading about the exercise from the source and seeing how Ms. Hagen developed and refined this exercise in her own career is invaluable. I'm sure I'll come back to this book time and time again.
Profile Image for David Olsen.
23 reviews3 followers
April 24, 2009
In my opinion, to make it short and sweet, this is the best damn book EVER written on acting. Uta = goddess of acting. Her other book is equally as good, and perhaps a bit more polished since it was written later in her life, but this one was the foundation of all her teachings at the HB Studio in NYC. Read it and weep, actors!
Profile Image for Lauren LoGiudice.
Author 1 book33 followers
November 11, 2022
This one of those foundational books you gotta read when you start acting. It gives you building block exercises, as well as gives you a glimpse of insight into the world of actors in the 1930s through 1960s. She talked about developing some of the exercises while spending time in her house out in Long Island. Stage actors today don't dream of a house in the Hamptons!
Profile Image for Amanda.
336 reviews64 followers
March 31, 2008
Uta Hagen has some good advice. I can't say this was a page-turner, but if you're in the craft, it's got some good bits of insight.
Profile Image for Rachel.
246 reviews
December 31, 2015
Really interesting take on the process of acting--I will definitely have to reread, it was a pretty information heavy book.
Profile Image for Alejandro Sanoja.
305 reviews12 followers
March 15, 2020
This was a birthday gift from my friend José V. Garza. Thank you, José!

As I've been getting obsessed about improv comedy (it started as a way to get comfortable with speaking in English and it transformed into a passion), I've been having a hard time finding resources to improve on the "acting" component of the performances... until I read this book.

I've learned that is a highly recommended book within the acting community and it delivered. Not only it has a mindful approach but it also shares some specific exercises and activities that the reader can do to improve his/her acting skills.

If you are a left-brained person, or someone who is stumbling into "acting" late in life, this is the book for you.

Flow: 4/5, it might be difficult to follow sometimes as it makes many references to plays that might not be familiar to people who have not been in the acting world for a while.

Actionability: 5/5, lots of specific activities and exercises that can/should be applied right away, even before finishing the book.

Mindset: 4/5, it teaches you that to be a great actor you basically have to be a student of everything around you which requires the ability to be present and to listen

Some Of My Highlights:

"An intellectual actor can intellectualize himself out of real acting impulses, while his less mentally endowed brother, provided he is not dull and insensitive, may function magnificently if he has understanding of human behavior."

"...there is no excuse for his frittering away the hours that belong to him - and his true work - with partying, and fun and games."

"The less-talented actor can win with a thorough, back-breaking discipline in his work, in his examination of his materials and his relationship to it, in the dedication (that mich-abused word) to his work."

"We must serve the play by serving each other."

"Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art."

"The continuing job of learning to find out who you really are, of learning to pinpoint your responses - and even more important, the myriad, consequent behaviorisms which result - will help you begin to fill your warehouse with sources upon which to draw for the construction of a character."

"Your own identity and self-knowledge are the main sources for any character you may play."

"We have to truly be curious about ourselves and others."

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular... It robs you of the change to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

"...how you make these things real to yourself, how you make them exist is totally private work."

"Don't fall victim to the temptations of revealing your little goodies to your director or your fellow actors."

"In life, an emotion occurs when something happens to us which momentarily suspends our reasoning control and we are unable to cope with this event logically."

"As pleasurable as the idea of a big emotion may seem to an actor, human beings do not want this loss of control and usually make an attempt to cope with the emotion as it hits them."

Profile Image for Ian Dawson.
Author 2 books7 followers
November 26, 2020
I first heard of Uta Hagen years ago while watching an interview with actor David Hyde Pierce (Niles on the TV series, Fraiser). He worked under her and praised her passion for acting and her teaching abilities. I bought two of her books, and finally sat down to read one of them, and I really found her insights into acting fascinating.

What Hagen give the actor the ability to give their characters dimension and to live their characters' lives beyond the scope of the play's story. She believes, and I agree, that to truly embrace a role you have to embrace the character 100%.

The book is broken into three parts: The Actor; The Object Exercises; and The Play and the Role.

The Actor gives the performer the they need to implement in order to begin the process of truly inhabiting a role for the stage.

The Object Exercises adds the next layer to what is taught in Part One, giving the actor exercises to do that will have them thinking as a performer and developing a performance.

The Play and the Role teaches how best to approach a role with authenticity and realism. Hagen also uses this section to dispel problems and issues that actors have brought to her in the past.

I like Hagen's style. She doesn't sugarcoat what she's teaching. She comes across as a genuine acting teacher who demands quality from her students, but also respects that there's a learning curve with some of these concepts.

I really enjoyed this book. If you are an aspiring actor and want to work on honing your craft while the entertainment industry is in a temporary hibernation, I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Ashley.
68 reviews1 follower
September 17, 2016
2.5 stars.
I had to read this over the summer because my acting coach recommended it to all of her students. I really enjoyed the beginning, and by beginning I mean the first chapter, but other then that I did not. I feel that she speaks as her word is fact. "We MUST," and "After that we HAVE to." I just feel that it's her opinion and interesting as it is, it's just her OPINION! I feel that when she goes into her processes she becomes one of those teachers you hated having in school where they thought they were always right because they've had more experience than you.
I don't know, I think that her perspective is interesting and worth looking at, and I did learn a few things (or rather agreed with things she said that I already knew). I don't think it's a necessity to read for actors by any means.
Profile Image for Karen.
30 reviews
October 2, 2018
I read this book for my Theatre Arts Advanced acting class in high school, we read one chapter a week, and I absolutely treasured this book. It became our bible for theatre. Lol. Anytime we needed answers to improve our acting it was in the book. What's funny is that if I didn't read a week in advance whatever questions I had about a character or emotion I was portraying would be there. This book is great for any actor/actress. Beginning or expert, Uta Hagen shows you how to keep your passion for theatre, that you can always improve, and new techniques that helps you become more comfortable on stage.
Profile Image for Carolyn Page.
1,415 reviews29 followers
December 16, 2019
Okay, so how do I write a review for this? "Respect for Acting" teaches respect for acting--both for the layman to understand what goes into a good performance, and for the actor who doesn't bear their craft the proper amount of respect necessary for their own development. I read this as a layman a few years ago, and now I'm reading it as an amateur actor. The exercises are valuable--as a matter of fact, the whole way of looking at it--the particularization, the 4th wall, the entrances, the substitutions--it's a fantastic resource, and I'd highly recommend it for any actor who wants to better themselves.
Profile Image for Taylor.
16 reviews
January 7, 2020
This book was incredible! I can't say I'm hugely interested in stage acting, although acting and performing in general has always interested me, but the contents of this book really changed my life.

To sum it up, the two most important things I learned were that I need to be brave socially and genuinely be myself in order to ever be a good actor, and also to be brave in daily life and what I allow myself to experience. I've sort of gotten comfortable in my routine and personality, and I've just been going through the motions. This book challenged me to be brave and to try to live life more fully. I never expected to find all of that in this small book.
Profile Image for Vinayak.
4 reviews
December 23, 2021
The more I learn about acting the more I realise how easy it is for them to sometimes loose touch with their sanity. The everyday practice alone is layers of delusion creation by distorting reality. Paired with delusional dreams for the future and never really knowing who they are, no wonder why all artists are overburdened by sadness of not knowing wtf is actually going on. Their is some solace though, sometimes the artistic gods align to help make beautiful masterpieces. Thanks to Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the easiest to witness one such (or many such) miracle is going online and listening to music!
Profile Image for Scott.
749 reviews5 followers
May 27, 2018
So what did I think of this book? It was an interesting read. Uta clearly has some brilliant ideas on acting. But I found the book dated and hard to relate to. Uta Hagen was born in 1919. She was most famous for The Seagull, which she did in 1938, A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1962. For young people today she could be a contemporary of Shakespeare. Her writing style is old and dated. Don’t get me wrong, my favorite book was written in 1961 and is as compelling today as when it was written. Steinbeck is like that.
Profile Image for Bridget.
570 reviews20 followers
November 29, 2018
Uta was such a fascinating woman and a great acting teacher. In high school, I used to watch Uta Hagen's Acting Class in my own acting class and learned a lot from her scathing comments on scenes. Her book was no different, part memoir, part instructional handbook. Her style of realism and honesty in acting is what I strive towards. Very helpful and reflective to read and work with this semester.
Profile Image for Cas ❦.
904 reviews112 followers
July 14, 2019
100% recommend for anyone who wants to improve their acting skills or just develop a deeper understanding of drama! Uta Hagen does an amazing job with writing this book, analysing all the various aspects of theatre concisely but covering all the most important points. I know I have a lot of work to do after reading this!
390 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2018
Respect for acting

This is a wonderful book on acting that I have read so far and I am glad that I did as it has helped me in my magic career. I highly recommend that anyone who is looking to improve their performance than this book is for you.
Profile Image for Julia Marie .
109 reviews
April 1, 2019
If you plan on acting anytime in the future, READ THIS BOOK! It is full of great exercises and advice. It is also set up in a digestible and concise fashion.
Profile Image for Ann.
392 reviews
November 29, 2019
Me & Uta go way back. I love and use so many of these tenets and practices.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 138 reviews

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