The Life Of Uta Hagen, Unit 9: Task 1

Uta Hagen

Actress, Teacher, Writer…Legend

I have choose two practitioners who are relevant to my pathway (drama)

I have choose to research Uta Hagen and Jerzy Grotowski. Firstly I wanted to further my knowledge on Hagen as I already know a little about her, her techniques interest me. I also know she has similar theories to Stanislavsky I also wanted to pick him so knowing that they are similar is good. Grotowski was new to me when researching their were lots of practitioners I was not familiar with but I had never read the name Grotowski so I will be researching someone completely new.

I included these points about Hagen in my writing.

  • Historical Content.
  • Social context.
  • How I feel about the way she has influenced Theater.
  • Some of her famous works.

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Uta Hagen was a famous actress and teacher/practitioner. Hagen was born in Germany June 12th 1919 and passed away January 14th 2004. She spent parts of her life as an actress, but a lot part of her life she spent years training actors with her theories.She became a practitioner 1947, her carer took off in 1937.


Below I have listened the plays Hagen stage, film and television credits.

Historical Content

When she became a practitioner, What was happening during the time she was a practitioner? How did this effect the work she did, if it did effect her work?

She became a practitioner in 1947 after a successful acting career.

(1)”Uta Hagen made her professional debut in 1937 at the age of eighteen as Ophelia in an Eva Le Galliene Hamlet in Dennis, Massachusetts. In 1938 she made her Broadway debut as Nina in the Lunts production of The Sea Gull. She played in twenty-two Broadway productions, including the legendary Othello with Paul Robeson and Jose Ferrer.”

(This proves that Hagen was excepted into the industry from a young age and started her long career).

Social Content

What had happened to her in her life to influence her to develop these techniques as a practitioner?

She met Harold Clurman when touring with the lead part in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ with Anthony Quinn. Clurman inspired her to write about her techniques. In her book ‘A Respect For Acting’ she mentions Clurman and comments how he was a ‘Springboard’ in her career.  He inspired her because he helped her with becoming the character instead of just wearing a mask. Becoming a realistic and believable actress.

In Hagens early life she got divorced from her husband, this may have effect on why she became a practitioner, or helped her develop those realistic performances.


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 Hagen’s Acting Exercises

Below is a video I watched which contains some of Hagens exercises I have listed some that have been useful to me and why they have helped me or why I think they might help me when I am performing on stage in the future.


My Notes on Uta Hagens Acting Class Part 1

Exercise 2 Fourth Side:

Wanting privacy on stage, but you have all the audience watching you. Their are three walls the two which are an actors safety zone (the wings) and then the third side the audience. Hagens exercise creates a fourth wall she believed an actor should find a light or a spot above the audience so that they don’t play into the audience. Its like eliminating the third wall of reality.

Exercise 3 Destination:

She tells her actors to watch themselves at home and recreate just two minuets of a simple task find the course of you behaviour. What is your physical destination on stage? When you are space less and don’t know what surrounds you the scene will not evolve!

  • Where did you just come from?
  • Where are you heading, give yourself a reason to be heading there.

If you have no reason to be standing your body will tense, and you will become self conscious. Make the scene develop become free! What would you normally do in that situation?

Exercise 3 changes of self:

This exercise shows that whoever you are speaking to you will become a different person. The boy in the scene spoke to three different people and each time his voice changed, so did his attitude and body shape. This is and exercise to show what people are like in everyday life when using the telephone, its a way to learn realistic and believable acting techniques.


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