Uta Hagen on Time: Gravity and Anger

Uta Hagen in her dressing room at the Lyceum Theatre, where she was appearing in Clifford Odets' The Country Girl, 1950.

Interview with Uta Hagen
Conducted by James Grissom
New York City

We talk about the development and the care of an actor's body and voice and mind, and this is all vital, and I am seeing an increasing body of dumb and incurious actors. How the hell can I teach or guide someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about when I mention Feydau or Sheridan or, God help me, Shaw? The well of their curiosity is shockingly shallow, and extends only as far back as the last Tony Award presentations. They know Tennessee [Williams] and [Edward] Albee from the movies made of their plays, and they show no interest in reading all of their plays, or finding out who their influences were, or those playwrights who came after them and bore the marks of these playwrights. I can't do anything with these actors.

But beyond the ignorance and the slack minds and the slack bodies, I can't work with anyone, in any field, who does not understand that time is limited; time is slipping away; you have a good time--a time filled with good opportunities--if you husband it properly. I don't know if I'm just dark and brooding and impatient, but I was very aware--at twenty, which is when I get a lot of students--that I had to move well and quickly. 

Time must be courted, seduced, manipulated, wrung out. The only things that frequently visit the lazy are gravity and anger.

©  2016  James Grissom


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