A Challenge For The Actor
Theoretically, the actor ought to be more sound in mind and body than other people, since he learns to understand the psychological problems of human beings when putting his own passions, his loves, fears, and rages to work in the service of the characters he plays. He will learn to face himself, to hide nothing from himself -- and to do so takes an insatiable curiosity about the human condition.

from the Prologue

Uta Hagen, one of the world's most renowned stage actresses, has also taught acting for more than forty years at the HB Studio in New York. Her first book, Respect for Acting, published in 1973, is still in print and has sold more than 150,000 copies. In her new book, A Challenge for the Actor, she greatly expands her thinking about acting in a work that brings the full flowering of her artistry, both as an actor and as a teacher. She raises the issue of the actor's goals and examines the specifics of the actor's techniques. She goes on to consider the actor's relationship to the physical and psychological senses. There is a brilliantly conceived section on the animation of the body and mind, of listening and talking, and the concept of expectation.

But perhaps the most useful sections in this book are the exercises that Uta Hagen has created and elaborated to help the actor learn his craft. The exercises deal with 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.

The scope and range of Uta Hagen here is extraordinary. Her years of acting and teaching have made her as finely seasoned an artist as the theatre has produced.

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A Challenge For The Actor Reviews

  • Lance Jeffries
    Jul 24, 2017

    Lance Jeffries

    I've read Respect for Acting as well as A challenge for the actor. The only difference between the two books is in this one, her indignation toward the industry is a lot more prevalent. If you pay attention to the subtext of her telling of the history, her stories, and statements she g...

  • Anurag Anand
    Dec 1, 2016

    Anurag Anand

    It's very genuine book. No bullshit. And a must read. All acting teachings in this book are very useful. ...

  • Joanna
    Mar 9, 2016


    I liked it, but I expected more. I've heard her previous book Respect for Acting, which was the predecessor to this book contained much of the same information but laid it out more simply. I read through this book without doing the exercises and so perhaps would find it more fruitful i...

  • Jacob Anderson
    Sep 20, 2014

    Jacob Anderson

    I ended up skimming a lot towards the end because the advice gets very repetitive (the book could be much more concise), but Uta provides lots of examples from experience and well-known plays to feast on upon future revisits. ...

  • Raquel -
    Nov 14, 2013

    Raquel -

    "Creo en la inmortalidad del teatro. Es el escondite más dichoso para todos aquellos que han guardado secretamente su infancia en el bolsillo y se han ido con ella a jugar hasta el fin de sus días".- Max Reinhardt.El Carpe Diem del actor. ...

  • Ming Siu
    Nov 7, 2013

    Ming Siu

    It does clarify some of her concepts in her previous book, but it's rather repetitive and wordy. The ideas are remarkably intuitive, but it's tough to unearth them from beneath all the rambling sentences. ...

  • Cassidy Liston
    Apr 6, 2012

    Cassidy Liston

    This book could be condensed down to a couple points that are easy to explain. It's about two hundred pages too long. Also it's very dense and poorly written. ...

  • Tracy Morton
    Oct 28, 2011

    Tracy Morton

    Great exercise for actors of every level ...

  • Mark Woodland
    Jul 28, 2011

    Mark Woodland

    Follow-up to Respect for Acting, and lives up well to its title. Again, not a technique, style, or training guide, but a way to view the art. ...

  • B
    Jan 11, 2011


    I wish Uta Hagen was still alive. I want to go to her house and watch her sit in her favorite seat and smoke ciggarettes with her and ask her a million questions about how the hell she can be the most self aware actor ever without also being the most self concious actor ever. This book...