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Respect for Acting

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,025 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
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 teac ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published September 15th 1973 by Wiley Publishing (first published September 1st 1973)
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Sep 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: théâtre
This book turned the shy dreamer writer into the shy dreamer actor you see today!
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jonathan Lien Horn
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
A readable, well-organized guidebook. A wee bit pretentious, but I sure want to work hard now!
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant director I was working with introduced me to this book and it has served as a foundation for my theatrical endeavors ever since. “Respect for Acting,” by Uta Hagen is exactly what it sounds like; it teaches respect for acting. Hagen who has graced the Broadway stage and film as a performer, was also an acclaimed acting coach. Some of her former students include; Jack Lemmon, Robert DenNiro, Liza Minelli, Whoopi Goldberg, and Al Pacino. Along with brilliant credentials, Hagen provides ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, non-fiction, 2018
Review forthcoming
Magdalena Golden-Baran
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 ...more
David Olsen
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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!
Shannon Baxter
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for those serious about acting. Uta Hagen offers an in-depth perspective on how to deepen the connection between the actor and the stage, other actors, and their craft. The book includes excercises the actor can perform on their own or with others.
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really interesting take on the process of acting--I will definitely have to reread, it was a pretty information heavy book.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
E.H. Nolan
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
For the actor who is serious about his or her craft, this is a well-written and inspiring self-help book. I categorize it as a self-help book because when an actor works on his craft, he is simultaneously getting to know himself on a new level.

This is not the kind of book that sounds like the author spoke into a tape recorder for an hour. Split into three sections—The Actor, The Exercises, and The Role—Uta Hagen has obviously taken her decades of experience and carefully crafted her wisdom for
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fantastic resource and a must read for actors. So many new ideas, exercises and tips. Can't wait to use my new knowledge and re-read this again in the future!
Joshua Blair
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent classic on the art of acting.
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theatre
This is the rating of the book alone, as a book: not the author or her worth as a teacher. Uta Hagen was a celebrated actor and a beloved teacher based at the HB Studio in New York for a long time. This is the first of her two books, and ironically her best known although two decades after writing this one she wrote a second book, A Challenge For The Actor, with more emphasis on action as the expression of the character. For its time (early 1970s) the book is a bold statement about the artistry ...more
Elizabeth Petrucka
Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen. An amazingly helpful book that by the end, will make you have respect for acting. When most people think of acting they think of costumes, stage, makeup, Shakespeare, etc. But Uta Hagen takes you on a thrilling adventure and shows you that there is more to acting than memorizing lines, and standing on stage reciting them. There is so much depth to acting that you would miss if you did not read this book.
For example, Characterization, she talked about how acting
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
I have not read many books but this one got me started. Even though I have a deep desire to learn about acting, Uta Hagen Respect for Acting book is extremely boring. I rushed through the book in 6 days because I had no idea what to expect. I expect to read the book again later to see if I feel different about it. The read was pretty easy but after I finished I learned that the reading was boring, specially compared to the book I am reading now. The book is set up in many chapters that have spec ...more
Ashley !
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
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 t
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, self-help, nonfiction
I just picked this book up again last week and skimmed. I was amazed at how thoughtful, and insightful, and objective this book is on how to make an artform that conveys subjectivity; she gives the objective means to effectively, realistically, convey.

Nuts, and bolts, and screws, and lumber, and roofing; she teaches how to build a moment and sustain that moment with, "where are you now, where have you been, where are you going." I found the exercises to be wonderful blue prints for "how to." It'
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
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 cho ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is worth reading for any actor wishing to seriously engage with the work of acting, and I recommend it highly but with three caveats. First, the examples are dated and if you're not at all familiar with the plays of the mid twentieth century, you won't get them. Second, if you're mostly performing the repertoire of the small local theater scene, comedies, musicals, and other light fare, then some of Hagen's message will have limited utility. Third, you'd probably get more out of this if you ...more
Terry Mulcahy
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: beginning actors
Recommended to Terry by: Sol Acting Academy
A fascinating take on acting for the beginning actor. Although Hagen focuses on stage productions, they are strong parallels with movie or TV productions, so this is well worth reading. Just in the introduction, she quickly dispelled my illusion that training comes from actually performing. it is not "sink or swim," because people do drown that way.
I only found one problem, and that was that she admonishes the actor to not polish their lines with all the right pauses and inflections and gestur
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In 2004 we lost such a great actress that helped so many actors, including me, to become free and truthful on stage. Her book is my acting bible and I refuse to apply to any other method or system even though her technique does branch and make references to Stanislavski e.c.t If parts get confusing for the actor beginning with the arduous process of bringing life to the stage then watch her DVD Master Class and that really puts her whole concept into order. Love it. Love it. Love it. Anyone seri ...more
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great textbook for anyone studying or teaching acting. More than anything, it sets for a logical, orderly way to gain prowess in an art that can seem so vague and bewildering. why are some actors better than others? Is acting a "gift" or a craft that can be learned? Hagen is firmly in the latter camp, and provides experst insights into the mystery. At the same time, she sets a very high standard for working hard, in as detailed a way possible - making a case for the fact that it all ma ...more
Annie H
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at a friends house. Since the dust cover wasn't on, I didn't actually know what it was about until I got a bit in. I thought it might have been about character development or maybe the history of theatre. Both acting and writing are topics I am interested in, so I had to get a copy from the library. :)

Uta focuses on something that is important in both creating a character and becoming a character; humanity. All characters are people, first and foremost. The world in which they l
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: acting
Inspiring and encouraging, as well as full of tools, this book is a great place to start for the actor. Although Uta and I do not agree on everything, she has provided a great toolbox for the actor to use to constantly and continuously develop his/her craft... Uta Hagen greatly encourages this work of ever-improving.

It was nice having a short and sweet book to read, but Ms. Hagen could've added more detail. However, I have heard that her other book, [A] Challenge for the Actor, makes up for it b
Chance Dudley
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Got this book because it's one of the required readings for my acting fundamentals class and I was not disappointed. I thought it would be just as bland and any other "textbook", but I wouldn't even consider this book one. It's more of a handbook, containing many useful concepts, comparisons, and exercises for actors all over. I look forward to applying what I learned from this book on the college stage. For those aspiring to be on stage, whether it be the school stage, community stage, or off-o ...more
Mike Tracy
Jul 21, 2015 rated it liked it
A basic advice handbook for actors. It feels a bit archaic but it's well-written and moves along and a fairly good pace. Like so many how-to books, it's best use is to help build enthusiasm for the craft. I'll bet she was a great teacher. There are some helpful pieces of wisdom here: locating oneself in the space, character objectives and some hints about tackling the problems of memorization, among these. It would be wonderful to be able to return to Ms. Hagen, now, forty years later and get a ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my "Bibles." Uta Hagen is brilliant in the way she explains things, and her stories are always fascinating. This book was my first introduction to analyzing "representational" acting as opposed to "presentational." There's an excellent discussion on "sense memory." A must-read for actors of all ages.
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hagen discusses a particular style of acting which is very detailed and thorough, so it's not directed at amateur actors as much as professionals. I didn't finish the book, but the good deal that I read showed that it would be a valuable book to have on your library to remind you of some of the essentials of good acting.
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“Keep pace with the present. Take a trip to the moon. envision the future.” 9 likes
“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 (the new you selected for your character on stage).” 3 likes
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