Acting technique Uta Hagen, actingcoach.

When asked who taught acting technique Uta Hagen is a name high on the list of many actors.

Uta Thyra Hagen (12 June 1919 – 14 January 2004) was a German-born American actress and acting coach. She originated the role of Martha in the 1963 Broadway premiere of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee (who called her "a profoundly truthful actress"). Hagen was on the Hollywood blacklist, in part because of her association with Paul Robeson, and this curtailed film opportunities, focusing her perforce on New York theatre. She won the Tony Award three times. She later became a highly influential acting coach at New York's Herbert Berghof Studio and authored a best-selling acting text, Respect for Acting. She was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 1981.



Her career

Hagen was cast, early on, as Ophelia by the actress-manager Eva LeGallienne. From there, Hagen went on to play the leading ingénue role of Nina in a Broadway production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. She would go on to play George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan (1951) on Broadway, and Desdemona in a production which toured and played Broadway, featuring Paul Robeson as Shakespeare's Othello and her then-husband Jose Ferrer as Iago. She took over the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire for the national tour, which was by Harold Clurman. She played Blanche (on the road and on Broadway) opposite at least four different Stanley Kowalski’s, including Anthony Quinn and Marlon Brando.

Hagen won her first Tony Award in 1951 for her performance as the self-sacrificing wife Georgie in Clifford Odets' The Country Girl. She won again in 1963 for originating the role of the "I-wear-the-pants-in-this-family-because-somebody's-got-to" Martha in Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. In 1981 she was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame and in 1999 received a "Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award".

Every acting technique Uta Hagen used helped her to sharpen her skills and were a premisse to her work as an acting coach. Although Hagen played characters with German accents in both of her best-known Hollywood films, The Boys from Brazil, in which her scene is with Laurence Olivier, and The Other, she had simply assumed the accent for those roles (Hagen was raised in Wisconsin).

She was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award as "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" for her performance on the television soap opera One Life to Live.

In teaching acting technique Uta Hagen was an influential acting teacher who taught, among others, Matthew Broderick, Christine Lahti, Sigourney Weaver, Liza Minnelli, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen and Al Pacino.

She was a voice coach to Judy Garland, teaching a German accent, for the picture Judgment at Nuremberg. Garland's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination.

She also wrote Respect for Acting (1973) and A Challenge for the Actor (1991), which advocate realistic acting (as opposed to pre-determined "formalistic" acting). In her mode of realism, the actor puts his own psyche to use in finding identification with the role," trusting that a form will result.

Involving her ideas of acting technique Uta Hagen later "disassociated" herself from her first book, Respect for Acting. In Challenge for the Actor she redefined a term which she had initially called "substitution", an esoteric technique for alchemizing elements of an actor's life with his/her character work, calling it "transference" instead.

In 2002, she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President George W. Bush at a ceremony held at the White House.

Uta Hagen personal life

She married José Ferrer in 1938, with whom she had a daughter, Leticia (Lettie) Ferrer, an actor in New York City. They divorced in 1948.

She was married to the actor and teacher and director Herbert Berghof from 1957 until his death in 1990. At his death, she said, "You know, we were partners in our work, in everything. We did everything together. Very few people understand what that kind of a loss is like." After her husband's death, Hagen took over the chairmanship of HB Studio and the theatre of the HB Playwrights Foundation where she is an acting coach.

Many wellknown actors will state that in the perfection of their acting technique Uta Hagen was the acting coach that helped them get better and better.