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Albee, Prince, Pierce and MORE to Honor Hagen and Berghof at NYPL

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has acquired the papers of renowned performers and acting teachers Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. The collection consists of thousands of pages of unpublished correspondence, diaries, scripts and manuscripts, photographs, clippings and other documentation relating to the dynamic theatrical careers of both Hagen and Berghof. This collection of professional and personal papers, spanning nearly 100 years of theater history, is being made public for the first time. To celebrate the bequest, the Library is planning a series of eight free public programs featuring many close friends and colleagues of Ms. Hagen and Mr. Berghof's including such figures as Harold Prince, Edward Albee, David Hyde Pierce and Eli Wallach.

The collection consists of 99 boxes of papers totaling 49 linear feet and provides in-depth insight about Ms. Hagen and Mr. Berghof's personal life, their working processes in various theater productions, and their renowned acting school HB Studio, and includes correspondence from esteemed personalities such as Katharine Hepburn, Tennessee Williams, José Ferrer, David O. Selznik and Thornton Wilder.

Ms. Hagen's papers include correspondence to and from her family, as well as other Hagen family papers. Her letters to her father Oskar Hagen - whom she playfully refers to many times as "papalop" - reveals new details of her personal and professional life. Of particular interest are various letters mentioning segregation during the Othello tour (1943-1945) with Paul Robeson and her then-husband, José Ferrer, and her diaries and notebooks which detail character studies for many of her roles. A notebook Hagen kept during rehearsals of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' is overrun with a range of notes and observations regarding character motivation and psychology. In one section, she writes: "Attacking George for being a failure all the time. Motive; ashamed of his dependence on my father....aware of his subservience."

Mr. Berghof's papers document the many productions which he performed in, directed, adapted, translated, or developed. The productions and projects span his entire career from the late 1920s to his final project in 1990. Included are materials and correspondence with Samuel Beckett regarding 'Waiting for Godot.'

The collection, entitled the 'Uta Hagen/Herbert Berghof Papers' was bequeathed by Uta Hagen to the Billy Rose Theatre Division in 2007. It will be housed in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

A tour de force in the theater world for over seven decades, Uta Hagen's numerous leading roles included Martha in the original Broadway production of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' in 1962 (for which she won a Tony Award), Desdemona opposite Paul Robeson's 'Othello,' and Blanche DuBois opposite Marlon Brando in 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' She taught at the tremendously influential acting school HB Studio, where her students included Matthew Broderick, Robert DeNiro, Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Amanda Peet, and Jason Robards. Ms. Hagen married its founder, the actor, director and writer Herbert Berghof in 1957.

Mr. Berghof, who died in 1990, remains one of the most revered acting coaches in theater history. During the years he presided over HB Studio, the roster of alumni included - in addition to the ones mentioned above - actors such as Anne Bancroft, Geraldine Page, and Fritz Weaver. Mr. Berghof also had immense success outside of the school, and garnered much praise for directing the American premiere on Broadway of Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot' in 1956 and the first all-Black cast version of the play in 1957.

Programs take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center located at 111 Amsterdam Avenue (between 64th and 65th streets). Admission to all programs is free and first come, first served. For information, please call (212) 642-0142 or visit Programs are curated by Alan Pally, Manager of Public Programs at the Library for the Performing Arts.

Remembering Uta
Thursday, September 18 at 6 p.m
Barbara Barrie, Richard Easton, Hal Prince, and Fritz Weaver reminisce about the life and work of Uta Hagen. Moderated by Foster Hirsch.

Reading and Reminiscences
Monday, September 22, 6 p.m.
Katie Finneran, Laila Robins, and Victor Slezak read from materials in the Uta Hagen Papers and share their memories of Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof.

Uta Hagen's Acting Class
Thursday, October 2 at 6:30 p.m.
Uta Hagen the teacher will be discussed by Karen Ludwig, Austin Pendleton, and Rochelle Oliver. The program will feature exerpts from the DVD 'Uta Hagen's Acting Class.'

"Perilous Stuff": Margaret Webster's Production of 'Othello' with Uta Hagen and Paul Robeson
Thursday, October 23 at 6 p.m.
Milly S. Barranger will give a lecture on the landmark 1942 production of Shakespeare's play, which was directed by Margaret Webster and starred Paul Robeson as Othello, Uta Hagen as Desdemona, and José Ferrer as Iago. Dr. Barranger, author of 'Margaret Webster: A Life in the Theater,' is Alumni Distinguished Professor Emerita of Theatre History and Theater at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Panel on Uta Hagen
Thursday, October 30 at 6 p.m.
Edward Albee, Mitchell Erickson, and Anne Kaufman talk about their work and friendship with Uta Hagen. Moderated by Richard Mawe.

The HB Studio: The Early Years
Saturday, November 8 at 3 p.m.
Panel with Mary Anthony, Anne Jackson, Eli Wallach, Edward Morehouse, and Jesse Feiler as moderator.

Remembering Uta and Herbert
Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m.
Readings and reminiscences by Arthur French, David Hyde Pierce, and Marian Seldes.

"Darling Papalop" Letters between Uta Hagen and Her Father
Monday, December 8 at 6 p.m.
Fritz Weaver and Rochelle Oliver will read correspondence between Uta Hagen and her father Oskar Hagen. These letters represent a subset of the treasures in the Uta Hagen Papers.

Born in Germany and educated in America, two-time Tony Award winner Uta Hagen studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts before making her Broadway debut as Nina in 'The Seagull' (1938). She won favorable reviews for roles such as Desdemona opposite Paul Robeson's Othello and José Ferrer's Iago in 1943, Blanche DuBois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in 1948, Georgie in 'The Country Girl' in 1950, and the title role in 'Saint Joan' in 1951. In 1962, she created the role of Martha in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'.

Herbert Berghof was born in Vienna on Sept. 13, 1909. He attended the University of Vienna and the Vienna State Academy of Dramatic Art and studied with Max Reinhardt. After fleeing Europe to escape the Nazis in 1938, he settled in New York in 1939 and, when not performing or directing, taught at the New School, the American Theater Wing, the Neighborhood Playhouse and Columbia University. He first appeared before New York audiences in 1941. However, he is best known as a leading acting teacher and founded the Herbert Berghof Studio in 1946, which he directed with his wife Uta Hagen.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses the world's most extensive combination of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. Its divisions are the Circulating Collections, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, Music Division, Billy Rose Theatre Division, and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound. The materials in its collections are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts - whether professional or amateur - the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters, and photographs. 

The Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library is the largest and most comprehensive archive devoted to the theatrical arts. Encompassing dramatic performance in all its diversity, the Division is an indispensable resource for artists, writers, researchers, scholars, students, and the general public. Through conservation and documentation efforts, it preserves and promotes the theatre, playing a dynamic role in the national and international theatrical communities. The Division's holdings illuminate virtually every type of performance, from street corner to stage to studio, and include drama and musical theatre, film, television, radio, and popular entertainment (circus, magic, vaudeville, puppetry). Approximately 5 million items illuminate the art of theatre worldwide.

The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers - the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Science, Industry and Business Library - and 87 branch libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The New York Public Library serves over 16 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 25 million users internationally, who access collections and services through its website,

Photo Credit Linda Lenzi

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