Uta Thyra Hagen (12 June 1919 – 14 January 2004) was an American actress and theatre practitioner. She originated the role of Martha in the 1962 Broadway premiere of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (who called her "a profoundly truthful actress"). Because Hagen was on the Hollywood blacklist, in part because of her association with Paul Robeson, her film opportunities dwindled and she focused her career on New York theatre.
She later became a highly influential acting teacher at New York's Herbert Berghof Studio and authored best-selling acting texts, Respect for Acting, with Haskel Frankel, and A Challenge for the Actor. Her most substantial contributions to theatre pedagogy were a series of "object exercises" that built on the work of Konstantin Stanislavski and Yevgeny Vakhtangov.
Uta Thyra Hagen
12 June 1919
|Died||14 January 2004 (aged 84)|
|Education||University of Wisconsin High School|
|Spouse(s)||José Ferrer |
(m.1957–1990; his death)
Born in Göttingen, Germany, daughter of Thyra A. (née Leisner) and Oskar Hagen, Hagen and her family emigrated to the United States in 1924, when her father received a position at Cornell University. She was raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She appeared in productions of the University of Wisconsin High School and in summer stock productions of the Wisconsin Players. She studied acting briefly at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1936. After spending one semester at the University of Wisconsin, where her father was the head of the department of art history, she left for New York City in 1937. Her first professional role was as Ophelia opposite Eva Le Gallienne in the title role of Hamlet in Dennis, Massachusetts in 1937.
Hagen was cast, early on, as Ophelia by the actress-manager Eva Le Gallienne. From there, Hagen went on to play the leading ingenue role of Nina in a Broadway production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull which featured Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. It was 1938; Hagen was just 18. This experience left an indelible mark on the young actress, as she later reflected, "My next job was Nina in The Seagull, [her Broadway bow] with the Lunts, on Broadway. That sounds incredible, too. They were an enormous influence on my life." She admired "their passion for the theatre, and their discipline. It was a 24-hour-a-day affair, and I never forgot it—never!" The New York Times' critic Brooks Atkinson hailed her Nina as "grace and aspiration incarnate".
She played 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 directed not by Elia Kazan who had directed the Broadway production but by Harold Clurman. Hagen had had a revelatory experience when she first worked with Clurman in 1947. In Respect for Acting, she credited her discoveries with Clurman as the springboard for what she would later explore with her husband Herbert Berghof: "how to find a true technique of acting, how to make a character flow through me". She played Blanche (on the road and on Broadway) opposite at least four different Stanley Kowalskis, including Anthony Quinn and Marlon Brando. Through interviews with her and contemporary criticism, the report is that Hagen's Blanche refocused the audience's sympathies with Blanche rather than with Stanley (where the Brando/Kazan production had leaned). Primarily noted for stage roles, 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?. (An original cast recording was made of this show.) In 1981 she was elected to the American Theatre Hall of Fame and in 1999 received a "Special Lifetime Achievement Tony Award".
Hagen considered the period between 1938 and 1947 as "the transitional years of my career, during which I lost my way and a love of acting until I finally regained it to begin a true life in the theater."
Although she appeared in some movies, because of the Hollywood blacklist she had more limited output in film and on television, not making her cinematic debut until 1972. She would later comment about being blacklisted, "that fact kept me pure."
She taught at HB Studio, a well-known New York City acting school on a cobblestone, tree-shaded street in the West Village. She began there in 1947, and married its co-founder, Herbert Berghof, on January 25, 1957. Later in her life, Hagen undertook a return to the stage, earning accolades for leading roles in Mrs. Warren's Profession (1985), Collected Stories, and Mrs. Klein. After Berghof's death in 1990 she became the school's chairperson.
Hagen was an influential acting teacher who taught, among others, Matthew Broderick, Christine Lahti, Amanda Peet, Jason Robards, Sigourney Weaver, Katie Finneran, Liza Minnelli, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Lemmon, Charles Nelson Reilly, Manu Tupou, Debbie Allen, Herschel Savage, George Segal, Jon Stewart, 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. In Respect for Acting, Hagen credited director Harold Clurman with a turn-around in her perspective on acting:
In 1947, I worked in a play under the direction of Harold Clurman. He opened a new world in the professional theatre for me. He took away my 'tricks'. He imposed no line readings, no gestures, no positions on the actors. At first I floundered badly because for many years I had become accustomed to using specific outer directions as the material from which to construct the mask for my character, the mask behind which I would hide throughout the performance. Mr Clurman refused to accept a mask. He demanded ME in the role. My love of acting was slowly reawakened as I began to deal with a strange new technique of evolving in the character. I was not allowed to begin with, or concern myself at any time with, a preconceived form. I was assured that a form would result from the work we were doing.
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. Though Hagen wrote that the actor should identify the character he plays with feelings and circumstances from his own life, she also makes clear that
Thoughts and feelings are suspended in a vacuum unless they instigate and feed the selected actions, and it is the characters' actions which reveal the character in the play.
Respect for Acting is used as a textbook for many college acting classes. She also wrote a 1976 cookbook, Love for Cooking. In 2002, she was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President George W. Bush at a ceremony held at the White House.
In 2001, Hagen agreed to be filmed giving master classes in NYC, LA, Toronto and Chicago by Karen Ludwig and Pennie du Pont, who released the video entitled Uta Hagen's Acting Class, a two-part set that captures her master classes. The video has been thoroughly studied and is now taught in many acting classes.
Harvey Korman talks about studying under her during his Archive of American Television interview in 2004. David Hyde Pierce worked with Hagen in the Richard Alfieri play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, at the Geffen Playhouse in 2001. Hyde Pierce spoke at her 2004 memorial at Manhattan's Majestic Theater.
Gene Wilder, Robert DeNiro, Daniel DeWeldon, Tony Goldwyn, Faye Dunaway, Laura Esterman, Carol Rosenfeld, Hal Holbrook, Hal Holden, Sandy Dennis, Griffin Dunne, Jeffrey Essmann, Delaney Hibbits, Daniel Gnad, Barbara Feldon, Tovah Feldshuh, Katie Finneran, Constance Ford, Victor Garber, Rita Gardner, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lee Grant, Charles Grodin, Eileen Heckart, Deborah Hedwall, William Hickey, Gerald Hiken, Anne Jackson, Harvey Korman, Geraldine Page, Jason Robards, Jr., Matthew Broderick, Corey Parker, Whoopi Goldberg, Amanda Peet, Jack Lemmon, Ted Brunetti, Lindsay Crouse, Fritz Weaver, Kevin Sussman, Rochelle Oliver and Rene Napoli.,
Uta Hagen was married to José Ferrer from 1938 until 1948. They had one child together, their daughter Leticia (born October 15, 1940). They divorced partly because of Hagen's long-concealed affair with Paul Robeson, their co-star in Othello. Hagen married Herbert Berghof on January 25, 1957, a union that lasted until his death in 1990.
Hagen was quoted, saying, "Awards don't really mean much."
A Challenge for the Actor is a bestselling acting textbook by the actress and teacher Uta Hagen (Scribner Publishing, 1991), used in many acting classes. Taking the concept of "substitution" from her previous book, Respect for Acting, she renamed it "transference".Other useful sections in this book are the exercises that Uta Hagen has created and elaborated to help the actor learn his craft, such as developing the actor's physical destination in a role; making changes in the self serviceable in the creation of a character; recreating physical sensations; bringing the outdoors on stage; finding occupation while waiting; talking to oneself and the audience; and employing historical imagination.Amulette Garneau
Amulette Garneau (August 11, 1928 – November 7, 2008) was a Canadian actress living in Quebec.She was born Huguette Laurendeau in Montreal and was educated at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, going on to study acting at the school of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde and dramatic art with Uta Hagen in New York City. Garneau also studied with Georges Groulx.Garneau performed with various theatre companies, including the Montreal Repertory Theatre and the Théâtre de Quat'Sous. She also became one of Michel Tremblay's favourite performers; she appeared in a number of his productions for the stage as well as the film Once Upon a Time in the East. She appeared in a number of television series, including 14, rue de Galais, La Pension Velder, La famille Plouffe and Grand-Papa. She performed with Olivier Guimond in the popular sitcom Cré Basile.Garneau was nominated for a Genie Award for her role in the film Maria Chapdelaine. She also game notable performances in Un zoo la nuit, Les Ordres and Les Vautours.She was married twice: first to poet Sylvain Garneau in 1953 and then to Jacques Zouvi. Her son Alain Zouvi is an actor.Her brother Marc Laurendeau is a journalist.Garneau died in Montreal at the age of 80 from cancer.Art of representation
The "art of representation" (Russian: представление, translit. predstavlenie) is a critical term used by the seminal Russian theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski to describe a method of acting. It comes from his acting manual An Actor Prepares (1936). Stanislavski defines his own approach to acting as "experiencing the role" and contrasts it with the "art of representation". It is on the basis of this formulation that the American Method acting teacher Uta Hagen defines her recommended Stanislavskian approach as 'presentational' acting, as opposed to 'representational' acting. This use, however, directly contradicts mainstream critical use of these terms. Despite the distinction, Stanislavskian theatre, in which actors 'experience' their roles, remains 'representational' in the broader critical sense.Gareth Williams (actor)
Gareth Williams is an American actor. He is probably best known from his role as Mike Potter, a recurring character on the television drama Dawson's Creek.
He played astronaut James Irwin in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, and was in such films as Malcolm X, Volcano, and The Cell. He has a long list of television credits including Time of Your Life, Angel, Law & Order, and Mad About You.
Gareth Williams has an extensive list of film credits, including Hollywoodland with Adrien Brody, The Cell with Jennifer Lopez, and "Keith" with Jesse McCartney, "Palookaville," Malcolm X with Denzel Washington and was the lead in the Danish produced road movie P.O.V. He also has a long list of TV credits, including the Tom Hanks produced miniseries "From The Earth To The Moon" where he played James B. Irwin. He also had recurring roles in Dawsons Creek, The Shield, and Time of your Life. His career began in New York where he studied with Uta Hagen for six years and did countless productions in and around NYC as well as regional theatre.Göttingen International Handel Festival
The Göttingen International Handel Festival (German, Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen) is a German festival of baroque music, based in Göttingen, Germany. The festival was established in 1919 by Oskar Hagen, art historian and father of actress Uta Hagen, and gave its first performances in 1920. The festival has largely focused on the music of George Frideric Handel and has helped to revive and cultivate increased performances of Handel's music during the twentieth century. The festival involves professional musicians from throughout the world and their performances are largely concerned with employing historical baroque performance practices.
The festival produces one fully staged opera by Handel every year and several of his oratorios. In 2006, the festival created its own professional orchestra, the Festspiel Orchester Göttingen (FOG), which focuses on performing baroque music. In addition, the Festival features several performances of the chamber music of Handel and his contemporaries. The festival also features open-air classic events, late evening concerts and a host of other performances in especially distinctive surroundings, lectures, film showings and guided tours of the city.
Past artistic directors have included Fritz Lehmann, from 1934 to 1953, except for a break from 1944 through 1946 related to conflict with the Nazi authorities. John Eliot Gardiner was the festival's artistic director from 1981 to 1990. Nicholas McGegan served as the festival's artistic director from 1991 to 2011. In September 2011, Tobias Wolff assumed the post of Intendant (Managing Director) of the Festival, and Laurence Cummings became the new artistic director of the festival.HB Studio
The HB Studio (Herbert Berghof Studio) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization offering professional training in the performing arts through classes, workshops, free lectures, theater productions, theater rentals, a theater artist residency program, as well as full-time study through their International Student Program and Uta Hagen Institute.Located in Greenwich Village, New York City, HB Studio offers training and development to aspiring and professional artists in a variety of areas, including acting, directing, playwriting, musical theatre, movement and the body, dialect study (speech and voice), scene study analysis, screenwriting and classes for young people. Select classes require an audition for admission.Herbert Berghof
Herbert Berghof (September 13, 1909 – November 5, 1990) was an American actor, director and acting teacher.Born and educated in Vienna, Austria, he studied acting there with Max Reinhardt. After fleeing the Nazis, he moved to New York in 1939, where he launched a career as an actor and director on Broadway, and worked with Lee Strasberg. Berghof became a charter member of the Actors Studio in 1947, with classmates including Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Jerome Robbins, and Sidney Lumet.In 1945 he co-founded HB Studio (the Herbert Berghof Studio) in New York City, as a place where aspiring actors could train and practice. In 1948, Uta Hagen joined the Studio as Berghof's artistic partner, and married in 1957. They ran the studio together until his death in 1990. Notable alumni included Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Geraldine Page, Fritz Weaver, Anne Bancroft, Donna McKechnie and Matthew Broderick.Stage appearances by Berghof included roles in Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea (1950), The Andersonville Trial (1959). Among his film appearances were 5 Fingers (1952), Red Planet Mars (1952), Fräulein (1958), Cleopatra (1963), An Affair of the Skin (1963), Harry and Tonto (1974), Voices (1979), Those Lips, Those Eyes (1980), Times Square (1980) and Target (1985). He directed the first Broadway production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot (1956).Described by The New York Times as "one of the nation's most respected acting teachers and coaches", he died of a heart ailment on November 5, 1990 at his home in Manhattan.Jamie Marsh
Jamie Marsh is an American theatre, television and film actor.
Jamie Marsh was born in New York City. In 1981 while living in Stockholm, Sweden Jamie was cast in his first movie, Montenegro. From 1987-1991 Jamie studied with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof at HB Studios.
In 1991 Jamie originated the role of Jay Kurnitz in the original cast of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play Lost in Yonkers written by Neil Simon. He performed the play over 800 times on Broadway at The Richard Rodgers Theater.
In 1992 Ellen Burstyn invited Jamie to be a member of The Actors Studio. Jamie has been an active member of The Actors Studio west coast since 1993, studying with Mark Rydell, Martin Landau, Lou Antonio, Barbara Bain and Salome Jens.
Jamie's film appearances include Best Laid Plans, Brainscan and Even Money.
Jamie's TV appearances include ER, X-Files and NYPD Blue.
Jamie has also appeared in national commercials for brands including Coke, Volkswagen, Budweiser, M&M's and AT&T.
Jamie's M&M's commercial has aired on Halloween since 2001 and is considered a 'classic' commercial.John LaZar
John LaZar (born May 22, 1946) is an American actor of both stage and screen, best remembered for his lead role as Ronnie 'Z-man' Barzell in the Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), co-written by Meyer and Roger Ebert.LaZar grew up in San Francisco, California and is of Mediterranean and Native American heritage. He trained at the American Conservatory Theatre and has studied acting with Uta Hagen. A veteran of many Shakespearean stage productions, Lazar is also a martial arts expert and fencer.LaZar later appeared in Russ Meyer's Supervixens (1974) and Roger Corman's Deathstalker II (1987).Juliane Köhler
Juliane Köhler (born 6 August 1965) is a German theatre, television and film actress.
Köhler was born in Göttingen to a puppeteer. During 1985–88 she studied under Uta Hagen in New York City and attended the HB acting studio. She also received ballet instruction in Munich. Since her first appearance at Hanover's Lower Saxon State Theatre in 1988, she has regularly appeared in German theatre productions. She performed in an ensemble cast of the Bavarian State Theatre during 1993–97. She left the company because her filming of Aimée & Jaguar interfered with rehearsals for a production of Das Käthchen von Heilbronn. She later returned to Munich to participate with the Munich Kammerspiele.
She has starred in the 1999 film Aimée & Jaguar (as Lilly Wust, or Aimée); the 2001 film Nowhere in Africa (as Jettel Redlich); the 2004 film Downfall (as Eva Braun); the 2008 film Haber as Clara, the wife of Fritz Shimon Haber; Christina in Eden Is West (2009) and starred in Two Lives (2012) as Katrine Evensen Myrdal.Respect for Acting
Respect for Acting by actress and teacher Uta Hagen (Wiley Publishing, 1973) is a textbook for use in acting classes. Hagen's instructions and examples guide the user through practical problems such as: "How do I talk to the audience?" and "How do I stay fresh in a long run?". She advocates the actor's use of substitution in informing and shaping the actions of the character the actor is playing.
Hagen later said that she "disassociated" herself from Respect for Acting. In a follow-up book, Challenge for the Actor (1991), she renamed "substitution" as "transference". Although Hagen wrote that the actor should "identify" the character they play with feelings and circumstances from their (the actor's) own life, she also makes it clear that "Thoughts and feelings are suspended in a vacuum unless they instigate and feed the selected actions, and it is the characters actions which reveals the true 'you'," as the character in the play.Sarah Rush
Sarah Rush is an American actress, best known in television for her work in the original Battlestar Galactica. She narrated and starred in the 2005 documentary The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania produced by Patricia Heaton and directed by David Hunt, which won the 2006 Heartland Film Festival Award. Rush was herself crowned Coal Queen in 1972.She is a member of the Actor's Studio, an acting student of Uta Hagen and Milton Katselas, and is a BFA in Theatre summa cum laude graduate from the Pennsylvania State University. She is married to Fred Bova (1999–present) and has one daughter, Amanda Grace.Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a 2001 play by American playwright Richard Alfieri. It is a play with only two characters: Lily Harrison, the formidable widow of a Baptist minister, and Michael Minetti, a gay and acerbic dance instructor hired to give her dancing lessons. It premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (with Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce in its two roles) before moving to Broadway. It has gone on to performances in 24 countries and been translated into 14 languages.Substitution (theatre)
In acting, substitution is the understanding of elements in the life of one's character by comparing them to elements in one's own life. For example, if an actor is portraying a character who is being blackmailed, he or she could think back to some embarrassing or private fact about his or her own life, and mentally superimpose that onto the character's secret.
In Respect for Acting, Uta Hagen compares acting to make believe, saying, "My strength as an actor rested in the unshakable faith I had in make-believe. I made myself believe the characters I was allowed to play and the circumstances of the characters' lives in the events of the play." And later in the book, "I use substitution in order to 'make believe' in its literal sense-- to make me believe [...], in order to send me into the moment-to-moment spontaneous action of my newly selected self on stage." Hagen is clear that substitution is a means to further connect actors to their characters and the actions of the play, as opposed to, for instance, bringing on tears. "Substitution is not an end in itself, not an end to involve you for self-involvement's sake without consequent action. Let me state strongly, in case any of you have misunderstood, that substitution is the aspect of the work which strengthens your faith and your sense of reality in each stage of the total work on character. It is a way of bringing about justified, personal character actions." Hagen also warns against confronting any traumatic experiences, believing it to be unhelpful. "There are teachers who actually force actors into dealing with something buried (their response to a death of a parent, or the trauma of a bad accident). What results is hysteria or worse, and is, in my opinion, anti-art. We are not pursuing psychotherapy. If you feel mentally sick or disturbed and in need of it, by all means go to a trained doctor or therapist, but not to an acting teacher."Susan Batson
Susan Batson (born February 27, 1943, in Roxbury, Massachusetts) is an American producer, actress, author, acting coach, and a life member of the Actors Studio. Susan's mother, Ruth Batson, was a noted civil rights activist. She trained with Harold Clurman, Uta Hagen, Herbert Berghof at HB Studio, and Lee Strasberg. She has coached notable actresses including Nicole Kidman and Juliette Binoche.The Boys from Brazil (film)
The Boys from Brazil is a 1978 British-American science fiction thriller film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It stars Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, and features James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen, Anne Meara, Denholm Elliott, and Steve Guttenberg in supporting roles. The film is based on the 1976 novel of the same title by Ira Levin, and was nominated for three Academy Awards.The Country Girl (1950 play)
The Country Girl is a 1950 dramatic play by American playwright Clifford Odets which was subsequently adapted as a film of the same name in 1954.
Uta Hagen played the title role of Georgie Elgin in its original production, with Paul Kelly as her husband Frank, and Steven Hill as theatre director Bernie Dodd. The production was directed by Odets, and ran for 30 weeks, accumulating 235 performances, from November 10, 1950 to June 2, 1951. Hagen received a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, and set designer Boris Aronson won for Best Scenic Design. The play was subsequently remounted on Broadway twice, in 1972 with Maureen Stapleton and Jason Robards, and in 2008, with Frances McDormand and Morgan Freeman. It was also produced twice Off-Broadway, in 1984, with Christine Lahti and Hal Holbrook, and in 1990, with Karen Allen and David Rasche.The play was produced for television twice, in 1974 with Georgie Elgin played by Shirley Knight, and in 1982 by Faye Dunaway.The Country Girl (1954 film)
The Country Girl is a 1954 American drama film directed by George Seaton and starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and William Holden. Adapted by George Seaton from Clifford Odets' 1950 play of the same name, the film is about an alcoholic has-been actor struggling with the one last chance he has been given to resurrect his career. Seaton won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It was entered in the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.Kelly won the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role, which previously had earned Uta Hagen her first Tony Award in the play's original Broadway production. The role, a non-glamorous departure for Kelly, was as the alcoholic actor's long-suffering wife.
Given the period of its production, the film is notable for its realistic, frank dialogue and honest treatments of the surreptitious side of alcoholism and post-divorce misogyny.The Other (novel)
The Other is the 1971 debut novel by Thomas Tryon. Set in 1935, the novel focuses on the sadistic relationship between two thirteen-year-old identical twin boys, one who is well-behaved, and the other a sociopath who wreaks havoc on his family's rural New England farm property.
Tryon, who had been a working actor prior, retired from his Hollywood career to become a novelist. Upon its release, the novel received wide critical acclaim, and was adapted into a 1972 film of the same name directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Uta Hagen. The novel was reprinted in a commemorative edition in 2012 by New York Review Books with an afterword by Dan Chaon.