Uta Hagen (1919-2004) was an American Broadway actress and drama teacher, born in Germany. Her focus too became a staple of American theater study: she was a strong purveyor of research. Hagen advised actors to learn as much as possible about the character, to research everything related to the character’s world. She also devised a series of exercises designed to make the actor more aware of his or her surroundings and wrote lists of questions for actors to answer (“Who am I? Where am I? What do I want? What is in my way of getting what I want?” and others).
Hagen also stressed the importance of doing rather than just standing around. People don’t just stand and wait, she said in an example. They fiddle with things. They talk to themselves. They study their environments. They people watch. On stage, no one should just “wait” without some type of corresponding action. Above all, Hagen spoke about honesty, making choices and actions not to “show” any acting but to truly be in the moment.
Video courtesy of Uta Hagen Master Class
Content courtesy of Acting a Student’s Guide