Wednesday, November 12, 2008



Presentation of the Award!
Jerry Stiller, Eli Wallach, Anne Meara and Anne Jackson
All photos: by Eric Roffman from the Gala for QPORIT

The HB Studio -- one of New York's oldest acting studios -- was founded in 1945 by renowned actor Herbert Berghof. He was joined in 1948 by the legendary actress Uta Hagen. The two master teachers trained several generations of master actors in theater, theatre and film. On Monday, Nov 10, the HB Studio and the HB Playwrights Foundation honored Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara at a benefit Gala.

Jerry Stiller and Edith Meeks, Executive Director

Speakers, especially Jerry and Anne in their remarks, honored the tradition of the studio. Anne remembered her studies with great fondness. Jerry celebrated Herbert Berghof's passion for theater, recalling the time Berghof called him at two in the morning to come down to the studio to study, work on and read a new, strange play (Waiting for Godot). He remembered how Uta Hagen was nice, tough. After his audition, while accepting him into her acting class, Uta suggested that Jerry also work on keeping his day job.

Ben Stiller

Among the many speakers, Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller recalled what it was like to be brought up in a loving house with parents who were performers.

Jerry Stiller

Talking about bringing up children, Jerry mentioned that when Amy was about two, he was rehearsing a sketch called "I Hate You" with Anne and they were screaming at each other. When Amy came out of her bedroom, all upset, Jerry and Anne explained that they were rehearsing. Later when they had a real fight, Amy came out cheerfully to say... "You're rehearsing!"

Eli Wallach & Anne Jackson

The award was presented by Stiller and Meara's old friends, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. Anne Jackson is still actively teaching at HB Studio. Many distinguished alumni of the Berghof-Hagen era have taught at the school, including Bill Hickey, actress Jill Clayburgh and screen writer Tracey Jackson (whose "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is scheduled for release in Feb 2009).

Letty Ferrer, Uta Hagen's daughter,
an active member of the HB Staff,
was among the guests.

Anne Meara, David Amram and Ben Stiller

Among the entertainments at the Gala was a terrific, long concert by David Amram -- accompanied by his son and daughter in law.

Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts, an old friend of Stiller and Meara, was among the speakers.

Sam Groom

In the post Berghof-Hagen era, The HB Studio continues to evolve. Sam Groom, a link between the B-H era and the current world, teaches a class in acting for the camera. Anything other than pure theatre was very rare in the olde days.

Snezhana Chernova

Snezhana Chernova, a brilliant actress, acting teacher, and member of the staff, and her husband Aleksey Burago, who teaches directing, both of whom were trained in Russia (not at HB with Hagen & Berghof), are among the new generation at HB Studio. With his unique energy and style, Aleksey renews the tradition of passion for theater!

Julia Wolfermann

Performer Denusia Trevino

Julia and Denusia are members of a new generation of actors studying at HB and working with the HB Playwrights Foundation. At the Gala, Denusia presented an excerpt from the one-woman show she is developing at HB, about the immigrant experience.

Posters of productions with legendary directors, actors and playwrights line the walls of the Playwrights Foundation Theatre next door to the studio. Continuously operating through the years, recent productions have included a new adaptation of Chekhov's stories by Aleksey Burago, and work directed by Tony Award winning Jack Hofsiss, who also, currently, teaches directing at HB.

The re-assertion of the values of Hagen and Bergof and their passion for acting and theater were the spirit of the remarks by Stiller and Meara, and were then echoed in the comments of their children, Ben and Amy. As this Benefit Gala is a link to the past, it is the next generation... it is the evolution of HB into the future that will benefit!

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