Herbert Berghof: A Birthday Celebration

September 13, 2017


“Fine acting is the pure use of yourself for living, nothing else.”


Celebrating our founder, Herbert Berghof, on his 108th birthday, HB Studio presents a reading of A Betrothal by iconic American playwright Lanford Wilson featuring *Rochelle Oliver, *George Morfogen, and directed by *Austin Pendleton.

Dedicated by Lanford as a valentine to Berghof and his wife and partner, Uta Hagen, this one-act explores the encounter between two rivals at a flower breeders’ competition. The evening will also feature readings from Herbert’s letters, remembering him through his own words and reflections.

September 13, 2017

7:00 pm

HB Playwrights Theater

124 Bank Street, NYC 10014


$250 – Premiere Tickets

$150 – Preferred Tickets

  $25 – HB Student Tickets




A Betrothal is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.

Herbert Berghof, born in Austria, was a protégé of the German realist director Max Reinhardt, whom he studied under while attending the University of Vienna and the Vienna State Academy of Dramatic Art. Berghof honed his skills classical and modern plays throughout Eastern Europe before coming to America in 1939 as a refugee from Adolf Hitler’s regime. Upon arriving in New York, Berghof 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 founded HB Studio in 1945 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 found success on stage and screen in New York, as well as a visionary director on Broadway. He founded the HB Playwrights Foundation (HBPF) in 1964 to support the development of new plays and playwrights. The HBPF fostered numerous landmark American playwrights including Horton Foote, Lanford Wilson, Eric Bentley, Donna de Matteo, Romulus Linney, and Kenneth Lonergan.

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 nearly a decade 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. Since its founding, HB Studio has provided an artistic home and vibrant creative community where actors, playwrights, and directors find opportunity, education, encouragement, and support.




Rochelle Oliver studied with Uta Hagen and at the Henry Street Playhouse. She serves on HB Studio’s Board of Directors and Artistic Council. Oliver has acted in theater, film, and television for over five decades. She is best known for her roles on Broadway/Off-Broadway, including Toys in the Attic (Clarence Derwent Award), Harold, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Happily Never After, Same Time Next Year, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Driving Miss Daisy, Love Letters, After Play, and Horton Foote’s The Traveling Lady (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Regionally, Oliver has starred in numerous productions across the United States and Canada, including A Streetcar Named Desire (Joseph Jefferson Award nominee) and Death Of A Salesman (Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee). In film/television, Oliver is best known for Scent of a Woman, All My Children, 1918, Valentine’s Day, Law & Order, Horton Foote’s Story Of A Marriage (American Playhouse), and Stephen Wright’s Academy Award-winning short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. Oliver, along with Carol Goodheart, directed numerous productions at the HB Playwrights Foundation, including Foote’s The Chase, HB Holiday Plays (2007), HB Waiting Room Plays (2008), Food For Thought, readings of Israel Horowitz’s The 75th, Jules Feiffer’s Crawling ArnoldThe Bedroom Plays (2012), and Brilliant Traces for HB Studio’s First Floor Studio residency program. Recently, Oliver acted with her late husband, Tony-Award winning actor Fritz Weaver, in multiple readings at HB Studio curated by Alan Pally, including A Song At Twilight, Noel Coward’s final work for the stage originally produced at the Long Wharf Theater starring Oliver and Weaver as principals. Oliver and Weaver also performed in an exclusive reading for the Greenwich Village Historical Society at the HB Playwrights Theatre, featuring a selection from Horton Foote’s A Coffin in Egypt and Robert Lowell’s Prometheus Bound – the original 1973 production featured Weaver alongside Uta Hagen and was directed by Herbert Berghof. A long-time faculty member at HB Studio, Oliver’s goal is to guide students to find their own voice as theatre artists. She encourages students to take the time to ask the questions and understand the importance of process in an actor’s work. She asks students to “please not leave their imaginations behind in this culture of instant answers. The joy for me is our working together as we discover and learn.”



George Morfogen is a veteran character actor who studied at the Yale School of Drama. TV viewers best remember him for his recurring role of Bob Rebadow on all six seasons of the acclaimed prison drama Oz and his role as Stanley Bernstein in the original miniseries V. He is well known for his Broadway/Off Broadway roles in A Man For All Seasons, Fortune’s Fool, An Inspector Calls, Arms And The Man, John Gabriel Borkman, Richard II (Equity’s St. Clair Bayfield Award), Three Sisters, The Forest, Uncle Vanya, Ivanov (CSC); All’s Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra; Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Country Girl, Cyrano (Roundabout), Principia Scriptoriae, Golden Age (MTC), Heartbreak House, Vieux Carre (Pearl), Hamlet, Othello, Cymbeline, Henry V, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Public), The Madras House, The Voysey Inheritance, and Uncle Bob (Premiere). In addition his work on Oz and V, Morfogen has gained viewer recognition on TV series since the 1970s, including roles on Kojak, Remington Steele, St. Elsewhere, Damages, and Law & Order SVU. Morfogen appeared in Chelsea Theater Center’s production of Heinrich von Kleist’s The Prince of Homburg alongside Frank Langella in 1977, which aired the same year on the PBS series Great Performances. Morfogen’s film credits include Twenty Bucks; Times Square, What’s Up Doc?; Those Lips, Those Eyes; She’s Funny That Way; and filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich’s Daisy Miller (1974), They All Laughed (1981), and Illegally Yours (1988). Morfogen was the 2000 recipient of the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship. A dedicated faculty member of HB Studio, Morfogen encourages his students to be courageous actors and rise to meet the challenges they face in their work.



Tony nominated, Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning director, actor, playwright and librettist Austin Pendleton first received critical acclaim in 1964 for originating the role of Motel in Fiddler on The Roof. Over the past four decades, Austin’s illustrious career has included countless theater, film, and television projects. On stage, his credits include Mother Courage and Romeo and Juliet (Public Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park), The Diary Of Anne Frank (Broadway), Hail Scrawdyke! (Broadway, Derwent Award), Educating Rita (Off-Broadway), The Last Sweet Days Of Isaac (Off-Broadway – Obie and Drama Desk Awards), Hamlet, Richard II and Richard III (Off-Off-Broadway), Waiting For Godot and Quills (New Rep, Boston), Straight White Men (Public Theatre), King Lear (Secret Theatre), and The Workshop (Premiere – Soft Focus). On film, he has starred in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, A Beautiful Mind, Guarding Tess, The Muppet Movie, Starting Over, and Catch-22. On television, his credits include Oz, Homicide, and St. Elsewhere. As director, Austin has directed numerous Broadway productions, including Spoils Of War, The Little Foxes (Tony nomination), and John Gabriel Borkman. Off-Broadway directing credits include Ivanov, Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya (CSC); Vieux Carré and Toys In The Attic (Pearl); Fifty Words (MCC); Between Riverside And Crazy (Atlantic Theatre and 2nd Stage); and Traveling Lady (Cherry Lane). A graduate of Yale University, Austin studied acting with Herbert Berghof, Uta Hagen and Robert Lewis. He is currently a faculty member at HB Studio and ensemble member of Steppenwolf Theater Company. As faculty at HB Studio, Austin encourages his students to become aware of the challenges they face when acting and strives to help them overcome their obstacles and deepen their work. He is the Recipient of 2007 Drama Desk Special Award as “Renaissance Man of the American Theatre”.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Performers’ Unions:





  through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on this program.

Unable to attend, but would still like to support HB Studio? Click here to make a donation today!
Contact The HB Development Team at development@hbstudio.org or 212-675-2370 x. 39. 


  • Time:
    September 13, 2017
    7:00 pm – 9:30 pm ET
  • Location: HB Playwrights Theatre, 124 Bank Street, New York, NY 10014