TECHNIQUE NOT TRICKS

This is not the "be happy, be sad, be angry, be rich girl, be tough guy, be nerd" cliché acting so often taught to actors by the Hollywood industry. This is not the "go with your feelings" technique which leads to self-indulgent, attention dependent actors who without a foundation of artistic integrity often lose their way early in their careers.

This is professional training that actors can use the rest of their careers. The Hagen Object Exercises process engages the imagination of each unique individual so that they are self-reliant, inventive, courageous professionals making their own creative choices from the very first day of class.

ACT 
accomplish, achieve, attain, bring about, carry out

TRUE
authentic, actual, factual, faithful, precise, undistorted

Acting is undeniable action and imaginative living that is so truthful, so passionate, so clear, that it engages the mind and spirit of the audience, till they breathe with your character.

ACT 
accomplish, achieve, attain, bring about, carry out

TRUE
authentic, actual, factual, faithful, precise, undistorted

High standards? A lot to shoot for? Absolutely! Art. Why do it any other way!

We are called actors, not "feelers" or "emoters" or "posers". We DO! Because that’s what makes human beings. We are in action, with goals, objectives, expectations of success. We "feel" because we have set ourselves in motion, in action. Emotion is a result of the actions we take.

We live within a world of circumstances, of place, of time, of relationship, NOT LINES! Young actors standing in hallways outside of camera classes practicing their lines, trying to find "interesting ways" of saying them, are working from a false premise, that it has something to do with lines. The legendary Master Teacher Sanford Meisner said, "An ounce of behavior is worth a ton of words."

And it is behavior that we investigate in our work. Stanislavski’s premise, "Action with thought is behavior" is the basis for our approach to text. My teaching is grounded in the unshakable integrity of the Hagen Process of creating truthful human behavior. As both a student of Master Teacher/Tony Award winner Uta Hagen and then as her associate director on a NY premiere, I have specific professional experience with the application of the Ten Object Exercises.

Ten Exercises that free the actor into action, who lives within the exciting imaginary circumstances of the work, without the inhibiting weight of predetermined emotional choices.

Ten Exercises which reveal the Thoughts which create action as human beings, Exercises which have been applied to acting challenges for over 50 years at HB. Studio in NY by actors who have gone on to create acting in America:

Al Pacino, F. Murray Abraham, Debbie Allen, Anne Bancroft, Candice Bergen, Peter Boyle, Matthew Broderick, Gary Burghoff, Stockard Channing, Jill Clayburgh, Whoopi Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Hal Holbrook, Harvey Keitel, Jack Lemmon, Bette Midler, Penelope Ann Miller, Geraldine Page, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jason Robards, Fritz Weaver, Sigourney Weaver and many, many more.

Let me quote from a Backstage West interview, Feb. 12, 1998, with Award winning Director Sydney Pollack, (who was also a teaching assistant to legendary Master Teacher Sanford Meisner):

"...behavior is the key...doing is the operative word. Acting is doing. The great misconceptions is that it’s about saying things--that it’s about the way you read lines....In fact, the last thing that happens in performance is speech. Everything else comes first, and is the real part of the iceberg. It holds everything up. Acting is doing something...and the emotion sometimes expresses itself verbally. It’s (emotion) the last thing in a chain of events. And it’s very hard to convince people that that’s where the search always has to be: for the behavior..."

I invite you to join me in that search.

Marc Durso - ActTrue, Inc.

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THE HAGEN 10 OBJECT EXERCISES

Developed by Uta Hagen through the challenges of her own legendary Broadway career and her fifty years of teaching top New York actors at HB Studios and throughout the world.

Ten specific exercises which reveal the thought impulse of all action. Ten investigations of human behavior that support the actor’s imaginative belief in every second of life on camera and stage.

1. Physical Destination:

Tests the cause of action

2. Fourth Side:

Tests the ability to imaginatively maintain faith in the character’s physical world

3. Changes of Self:

Explores the many aspects of our persona

4. Moment to Moment:

Tests the ability to repeat rehearsed actions as if for the first time

5. Recreating Physical Sensations:

Tests the ability to produce sensations according to the physical demands of the script’s realities

6. Bringing the Outdoors On Stage:

Tests ability to recall and recreate physical adjustments to nature

7. Finding Occupation While Waiting:

Tests the body’s experience while pursuing a psychological goal

8. Talking to Yourself:

Investigates the need/cause of speech when alone

9. Talking to the Audience:

Tests the creation of imagined relationship with the camera or audience

10. Historical Imagination:

The culmination and application of all previous exercises which test our ability to believe in the "other" worlds of the writer.

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LINKLATER VOICE PROCESS

Developed by renowned voice teacher Kristin Linklater at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Her process is used by theatre companies and university theatre programs throughout the world and presently, Columbia University, where she is the Theatre Department Chair.

This physical investigation of sound on breath frees the natural voice of every human being. Relaxation exercises allow contact with freely expressed impulses, impulses of imagery that spur the production of truthful sound.

I utilize this highly respected process to address the issues of tension and inhibition of breath which inhibits creativity, caused by the pressures of the work environment.

This process develops in the actor the ability to recognize and release tension which allows for spontaneous creative action in his work.

This is a vital component of an actor’s overall acting technique: the ability to relax into trust, and creativity. Only then can the highest aspects of their intelligence and personality color the character they are portraying and engage an audience on a deeper level.

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SCENE WORK

Scene work is assigned to students who have attained a working knowledge of the Object Exercises in Combination. This requirement provides experience in the interaction between the actors and their own life experiences as applied to the Exercises. This develops a strong technique in character investigation, impulse and circumstance, and bridges the gap between class presentations and performance of a script. The imagined living in behavior of the actor’s own life circumstances creates a seamless transition to the imagined living in behavior of the character.

Scenes are taken from the Modern American Theatre cannon, Film and TV scripts as well as Classic literature. This tests the actor’s imagination and develops a malleable and reliable professional technique capable of creating truthful human behavior in all times and places.

The Camera is incorporated into Class work immediately. It is not treated as a different "animal" where often an almost mystical and often feared attitude towards it is allowed to develop in the actor.

Camera Work is incorporated...

The Camera is the audience, it is the other character. It is why and for whom we create. We must engage and embrace it.

The Hagen Object Exercises, Fourth Side and Talking to the Audience, are applied specifically to the demands of the Camera. These Exercises precisely address the problematic intrusion of the Camera into the imagined life of the character. These two Exercises develop an unshakable imagined belief in the place and circumstances of the event, that allows the actor to live privately within the circumstances of the script and all the possible distractions of the technical aspects of Camera work.

Scenes are presented in Class, critiqued based on Truth/Untruth in behavior and then re-presented in Master, Medium, Two shot, POV and Close-up. The actor is given experience in the demands of the movie set and learns to adapt his technique to stage and camera as a seamless process. It is all about truth telling.