I first heard of Uta Hagen years ago while watching an interview with actor David Hyde Pierce (Niles on the TV series Frasier). 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. I really found her insights into acting fascinating.

Hagen gives actors 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 must 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 what they need to implement in order to begin the process of truly inhabiting a role on the stage.

The Object Exercises add the next layer to what is taught in Part One, giving the actors exercises to do to make them think as performers and develop a performance.

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

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. I highly recommend this book if you are an aspiring actor and want to work on honing your craft.