History

HB was founded in 1945 by the Broadway actor and director Herbert Berghof. Berghof, born in Austria, was a protégé of the German realist director Max Reinhardt. A refugee from Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, Berghof came to New York in 1939, where he joined a community of immigrant artists interested in bringing the classical training of the European theatrical tradition into practice in the still-young American theater. Berghof was accustomed to a state theater system in which the artist was constantly engaged in practice and performance. He devised HB Studio as a place where artists at all stages of their careers could continue to work and practice between jobs, supported and challenged by their more experienced colleagues, in a space free from pressures related to commercial success. Berghof met the celebrated actress Uta Hagen in 1945 on a production of THE WHOLE WORLD OVER directed by Harold Clurman and invited her to join him in teaching at the Studio. The two were married 10 years later. Miss Hagen, author of the seminal acting texts RESPECT FOR ACTING and A CHALLENGE FOR THE ACTOR, became one of the most renowned and respected acting teachers of the 20th century. Together, Hagen and Berghof trained some of the most noted actors of the American theater. Their students, colleagues, and a new generation of accomplished artists continue that tradition today.