Sunday, July 27, 2014

Uta Hagen: On Being an Actor "What does it take?"

"It takes talent. TALENT is defined in the dictionary as "the natural endowment of a person with special or creative aptitudes." In an actor, I believe, these endowments consist of high sensitivity and responsiveness to sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, of exceptional sensitivity to others, of being easily moved by beauty and pain, and of having a soaring imagination without losing control of reality. Once one is blessed with these endowments, it takes an UNSHAKEABLE DESIRE TO BE AN ACTOR together with a NEED TO EXPRESS what one has sensed and felt in the concrete terms of the characters with whom one will identify on the stage. The need to express should not be confused with a kind of vanity or a kind of "Look at me, here I am!" egotism, which is so prevalent in the theater. Nor should sensitivity be confused with neuroses or their personal display.

Theoretically, the actor ought to be more sound in mind and body than other people, since he learns to understand the psychological problems of human beings when putting his own passions, his loves, fears, and rages to work in the service of the characters he plays. He will learn to face himself, to hide nothing from himself--and to do so takes an INSATIABLE CURIOSITY ABOUT THE HUMAN CONDITION. 

It takes a SOUND BODY, as well developed and cared for as that of an athlete. It takes a TRAINED VOICE, as flexible as that of a singer, and FINE STANDARD SPEECH which must be developed for use in all the dramatic literature that makes greater demands on him than the regional speech with which he began his life. 

When a God given or genetically inherited talent exists, the would-be actor must face the fact that it is of little use without the TENACITY AND DISCIPLINE it takes to make something of the talent.

To be more than an adequate or serviceable actor, it takes a BROAD EDUCATION in the liberal arts. If this has not been provided for, remember that once you can read, you can educate yourself in the understanding of human beings and the social conditions under which man has struggled throughout history by reading not just dramatic literature, but also masters of the novel and the endless biographies that substantiate faith in the realities of the past. Your feet can take you to museums, galleries, libraries, theaters, concerts, and dance performances. Your need for enlightenment will increase as you realize the ways in which these sources stimulate your own creative drives."


excerpted from A CHALLENGE FOR THE ACTOR
 by Uta Hagen

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How can an actor 'practice' every day like other artists do?

Some suggestions:


Read plays: read every play at your local library. order used plays online.

Study the playwrights: their bios, their style, their interviews.

Study people. go out with your journal and study behavior of humans. Study human behavior.

Do a play reading with your friends. copy a play and assign parts. Do this once a week.

Work on a Shakespeare soliloquy. Work with Shakespeare's language until you can communicate with it effectively.

Research Shakespeare: his life and plays.

Watch plays.

Watch videotapes of productions, watch the performances.

Choose an animal and go to the zoo. Study that animal and bring it to life at home. How it lives.

Sing/ do vocal warmups everyday.

Stretch everyday: do Pilates, Do yoga.

Do Ballet or any form of dance.

Go to every museum you can and study the characters in the paintings. In the context of their history.
Their bodies. their gesture, their state of being.

Find your favorite human sculptures. Study the sense of gesture and communication in the figures.

Write in your acting journal.

Research the history of theater.

Research the history of acting.

Find the next scene you want to work on in class.

Establish ways to take care of yourself. of your instrument: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Ask yourself why you want to act.

Read a chapter of an acting book.

Q: What would it take to get yourself ready for when your opportunity comes?

Define what character you most want to play.

Create a detailed dossier on a historical character.

Create a detailed dossier on a modern character.

Develop your favorite character.

Read actor interviews.

Go interview an actor.