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Very much the same could be said of many 'acting teachers' that I know of, as Uta describes some people's view of what it is to become an actor.

Probably of me as a teacher, too, some 20 years ago. Many mistakes later, though, through diligent and thorough study, training and conscious development of my teaching practise, I think that finally I can be of help to the actor who wants to work at depth. Probably the most fundamental thing I have learned is to acknowledge, honestly, to at least myself, at the start of each class, private session or workshop, that I really don't know anything. That we are going to undertake a true discovery of the work that needs to be done. Uniquely, to each actor for each character, in each moment, for each scene in each piece.

And then what of that which I have learned and gained understanding of in the 49 years since my first, paid role on the professional stage (plus the decade or so before that, raised in a theatre troupe) that can be useful to the particular and unique actor in front of me is able to reveal itself as we work.

Best wishes,


With thanks to James Grissom...

"I called the book 'Respect for Acting' for a very clear reason. I did not call the book 'Delight in Acting' or 'Love of Acting' or 'The Fun of Acting.' I called that book what I called that book because of the shocking lack of respect that was creeping into both the teaching and the practicing of acting. Now? Forget it. We have allowed so much to recede or languish that I don't know what I could call a book today. 'Demand for Acting' might work. ... There was a time when people became bored and they took up bridge or golf; ladies had an affair or had their hair rinsed and joined a book club. Now they want to act. And there are fools with no standards who allow them into classes and theatre groups and tell them to live their dream. I don't care about dreams. I care about work and responsibility and truth and commitment. You can see how old-fashioned I am. When you are bored or depressed, you might be advised to visit a museum, to look at the art. You are not, typically, advised to pick up a brush and become a painter. It is understood that this is a rare gift, and foolish to presume it might be yours. If your soul is crushed, it might be suggested that you listen to classical music or submit to opera. It is not suggested that you audition for the Metropolitan Opera, or even your local, provincial opera company. You haven't had the training. But acting? All you need, it seems, is the dream, and there are doors--doors that once meant something and once housed some standards behind them--that fly open and embrace you. And it enrages me. If there is some small society that calls itself amateur or community or whatever, and they want to get up and do plays, that is fine. I'll contribute money and I'll support you in the joys of understanding plays, but do not call yourself an actor. Do not think that your dream is similar in weight or meaning to the years of training and commitment that I and all the many actors whose work I love and respect and envy have invested in this art. Respect what is an art. It is not a pastime, and it is not something to get you through a bad time, and it is not something that should be taught to everyone with a dream. The term seriousness of purpose comes to mind. Apparently, only mine."--Uta Hagen/Interview with James Grissom/1996.

Happy Birthday, Uta Hagen.

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