Uta Hagen’s 6 steps for building a character

Uta Hagen was a highly respected actress and acting teacher. Her two popular books, Respect for the Actor and A Challenge for the Actor are legendary bibles on the craft. I highly recommend both.

In Challenge, on page 134, she lists the six questions she asks herself when preparing a part. These are conveniently categorized as her “6 Steps”, and I’ve listed them below. I’ve used these in acting classes and they are excellent to utilize during the primary stages of character development.
These six questions create a terrific tool that any director should introduce to his actors.

  1. WHO AM I?

    1. What is my present state of being?
    2. How do I perceive myself?
    3. What am I wearing?
  2. WHAT ARE THE CIRCUMSTANCES?

    1. What time is it? (The year, the season, the day? At what time does my selected life begin?)
    2. Where am I? (In what city, neighborhood, building, and room do I find myself? Or in what landscape?)
    3. What surrounds me? (The immediate landscape? The weather? The condition of the place and the nature of the objects in it?)
    4. What are the immediate circumstances? (What has just happened, is happening?  What do I expect or plan to happen next and later on?
  3. WHAT ARE MY RELATIONSHIPS?

    1. How do I stand in relationship to the circumstances, the place, the objects, and the other people related to my circumstances?
  4. WHAT DO I WANT?

    1. What is my main objective?  My immediate need or objective?
  5. WHAT IS MY OBSTACLE?

    1. What is in the way of what I want?  How do I overcome it?
  6.  WHAT DO I DO TO GET WHAT I WANT?

    1. How can I achieve my objective?  What’s my behavior? What are my actions?

An easy program template for your show

Need a program for your show but don’t have a lot of time or cash? I put together this really simple Microsoft Word template with some text boxes that you can use to just plug in the pertinent information, save it as your own document, print, copy, fold, and hand out.

A program should be an easy way to get the important information to the audience (like who’s in the show, who directed it, and where people can find you once they leave). It can be as detailed or as basic as you want

The following link will download the file to your computer (it’s completely safe – just a simple Word document – scan it if you like). Follow the directions and the advice included, and you should be all set:

MICROSOFT WORD SIMPLE PROGRAM TEMPLATE

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Is there another format that works better for you? Let me know (just send a quick message), and I’ll try to include it in this post.

If you’d like to see an example of a basic program that I’ve done in the past, contact me and I’ll try to dig one up for you.