I believe in the immortality of the theatre. It is the most joyous hideaway for all those who secretly put their childhood in their pocket and went off and away to play further on to the end of their days.
—Max Reinhardt, translated by Herbert Berghof
The HB Studio was already a thriving fixture in the New York City cultural landscape when in 1965 Herbert Berghof and Uta Hagen realized their dream of establishing a theatre. From his work on the film Cleopatra, Berghof earned the money to purchase the one-story garage that was converted into an 80-seat performance space. That building, along with the adjacent brownstone at 122 Bank Street, was renovated with the help of many unpaid friends who did everything from painting walls to scouring floors. An anonymous donor provided professional lighting and sound systems.
For over fifty years, dedicated volunteers have made it possible for the HB Theatre to present over 250 full productions, countless staged readings and many other theatrical events. Professional actors, directors and designers of the highest caliber donate their time and talents for the productions. They do so because at the HB Theatre they have both artistic freedom and the luxury of allowing the work to evolve at whatever pace is necessary for the play. Actors’ Equity Association, recognizing the importance of this work, has granted HBPF a special agreement to support this extended process.
Among the more than 130 playwrights who have found a home at HB Playwrights Theatre are Neena Beber, Saul Bellow, Eric Bentley, Bertolt Brecht, Vincent Canby, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Donna de Matteo, Horton Foote, Marjorie Kellogg, Pavel Kohout, Romulus Linney, Kenneth Lonergan, Mark Medoff, Ed Napier, James Purdy, James Ryan, Willam Saroyan, Martin Sherman, Michael Straight, William Styron, Kathleen Tolan, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Sherman Yellen.