UTA HAGEN EXERCISES FOR MASTERCLASS PLUS
Although I played many parts to critical success, I was frustrated and dissatisfied by problems that arose over and over again that related to the human techniques, regardless of the role I was playing: a sudden loss of privacy or concentration, momentary physical self-consciousness, getting trapped in externals and mechanical actions, the anticipation of a particular response or action, an inability to tap the correct stimulus, pushing for the emotion – to mention a few. When I was not playing, in between parts, I was even more frustrated, believing there was no way for me to function as an artist in the absence of rehearsals, performances, and my fellow actors…In desperation, I came on the idea of working by myself at home to devise corrective exercises for all of the problems I was having by exploring personal behaviour under a variety of circumstances.’ – Uta Hagen, A Challenge for the Actor
I’d like you to do an acting exercise called 3 ENTRANCES (from Uta’s book RESPECT FOR ACTING) with a little 4th wall in there for good measure
You enter your house under similar circumstances but 3 different ways. EXAMPLE ONLY
- You are coming from the dentist with a toothache and enter the house to get your gym bag to go to the gym
- You enter the house still talking and trying to get rid of an irritating neighbor, finally enter. Get your gym bag and when the coast is clear exit to gym.
- You enter the house talking to a good friend whose dog just died..take time to finish conversation (using 4th wall/audience ) get your gym bag and go.
BASIC OBJECT EXERCISE
Based on the reading, students must now decide a moment in their daily life when they can apply the principles discussed in the reading
Specifically they need to think of something where they’re able to answer the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What time is it?
- Where am I?
- What surrounds me?
- What are the given circumstances?
- What is my relationship?
- What do I want?
- What’s in my way?
- What do I do to get what I want?
THE FOURTH WALL
that they are going to create a telephone conversation between the two of them (page 110), deciding the:
Once they have determined the situation, have them sufficiently rehearse a resulting dialogue so they do not need to improvise the conversation
As soon as the conversation has been solidified, have students work on interacting with the “secondary fourth wall” (i.e. as they are talking on the phone, they need to be aware that there is a fourth wall; however, the moment they directly acknowledge an imaginary object on/against their fourth wall, it has become a primary fourth wall—which they want to avoid)
Give them 10-15 minutes to create/rehearse this activity
Ask for a volunteer to wait in the hallway where they cannot hear/see in the classroom. Once he has left, have students hide the candy bar in a place where it’s not impossible to find but will require effort to locate. Before having the volunteer return, tell the students to observe his process, mannerisms, patterns, train-of-thought etc., in detail. Also demand absolute silence during the search.
When the volunteer returns, give him the instructions:
- A candy bar has been hidden (if in a difficult spot, give him a general location)
- If he can find it in 1 minute, he can have the candy bar
Once the minute is up, discuss both the observations of the viewers and the experience of the volunteer. Specifically look for observations regarding his process, mannerisms, patterns, train-of-thoughts, etc. (If helpful, record responses on the board.)
Placing the candy bar in the exact same place, repeat the activity once again (the actor seeing where it’s hidden). This time however, have the volunteer focus on recreating the same process he experienced the first time. Encourage him to try and make it as genuine as possible, not prematurely giving away the moment of discovery.
After his second attempt, compare observations both from the volunteer and the viewer.