Mirror Excercise

CompetencyEmpathy / Concentration / Imagination
Skills DevelopedBehaving truthfully
Created ByUta Hagen

Acting Principles

  1. Acting is not pretending to do. Acting is not showing what you feel. Acting is trying to change, trying to get. Acting is doing.
  2. Nothing is something.
  3. Actors must be slaves to the truth of the moment. Actors must embrace boring, simple, quiet, stillness, nothingness if it is the truth and resist the temptation to show or perform or indicate.
  4. The mirror for theater is the audience and for film the camera. Actors must learn how to behaive as though they are looking into a mirror, seeing their reflection, when they are really looking out at a room full of people or into a camera lense.


During your morning or evening bathroom ritual, pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviors. Try to observe and remember all of the sights, smells, sounds, etc. You will then come to class and recreate this daily ritual. Bring any props or you may pantomime provided you do sufficient work so that you can feel the weight of the toothbrush, comb, razor in your hand and you’re not trying to indicate that you’re holding a tooth brush. Your behaviors should look natural and not exaggerated.


Acting is living truthfully. Acting is not emoting, acting is not indicating, acting is not performing, it is simply being and doing. This exercise will help reinforce the commitment to the truth of the moment so the actor will not be superficial. It will also help the actor prepare for doing scenes in the mirror or when they are reacting to something that isn’t actually there.


Do you see an actor performing or a person living?
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