HB Studio was founded in 1945 by the Broadway actor and director Herbert Berghof. Born in Austria, Berghof was a protégé of the German realist director Max Reinhardt. He fled to New York in 1939 as a refugee of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, where he soon joined a community of immigrant artists and then-outsiders interested in bringing the classical training of the European theatrical tradition into practice in the still burgeoning American theater scene.
Berghof was accustomed to a state theater system in which the artist was constantly engaged in practice and performance. He conceived HB Studio as a place where artists at all stages of their careers could continue to work and practice between jobs with the support and challenges of their more experienced colleagues in a space free from pressures related to commercial success.
In 1945, Berghof met the celebrated actress Uta Hagen 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 artists married 10 years later. 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 in the original buildings and theater space in the heart of Greenwich Village.