Barbara Bain remains 'Love Struck' when it comes to theater
She is soon to appear at Beverly Hills Playhouse in Dale Griffiths Stamos' collection of one-acts before moving on to directing a play
May 09, 2012 By Susan King, Los Angeles Times

Barbara Bain actress Barbara Bain is appearing in the new play "Love Struck." (Michael Robinson Chavez,…)

To baby boomers, Barbara Bain is best known for the two TV series she did with her ex-husband, Martin Landau: "Mission: Impossible," for which she won three consecutive Emmys (1967-69) as the coolly efficient agent Cinnamon Carter, and the 1975-77 British sci-fi action-adventure, "Space: 1999," which aired in the U.S. in syndication.

But despite her TV and feature film work, Bain is really a theater animal. She honed her craft in the 1950s in New York with the legendary Lee Strasberg, who remains a strong influence on her. "Lee was a very important teacher," she said. "There is always something to learn."

Bain, 80, still takes acting class Wednesday evenings at the Actors Studio here. "I get up and [do scene] work," she said. "It is run by a wonderful colleague, Lou Antonio. It is stunning what he does. I have been teaching a private class there Saturdays from 11 to 3. There are 10 students. I don't like it to be too big. I do a lot of exercise work and scene work. I have a wonderful mix: I have some kids who have done nothing before, some who have been acting since they were kids, and some older people."

On a recent late afternoon at the Crown City Theatre in North Hollywood, Bain has just completed rehearsals for the day on "Love Struck," a collection of new one-act plays on the subject of love penned by Dale Griffiths Stamos and directed by Maggie Grant that opens Friday at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Bain is dressed in black and her long blond hair is pulled up into a makeshift bun. Even with just a modicum of makeup, she's still stunning.

"Love Struck" comes at a particularly busy time for Bain. While rehearsing the play, she was also appearing at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in "Why We Have a Body," in which she played a "feminist, archaeologist, historian and bilingual student of the human brain." And no sooner does Bain finish "Love Struck" than she begins directing the world premiere of "To Quiet the Quiet," by Christy Hall, which opens July 13 at the Elephant Theatre in L.A.

"Love Struck" marks the second time Bain has worked with Stamos. Last year, Bain appeared in a series of her one-acts, "Thicker Than Water," that was also directed by Grant.

Stamos contacted Bain about participating in "Love Struck." "I approached her saying, 'Shall we do it again?'" Stamos recalled. "'I would like to write you a piece, brand-new pieces that are specifically for you.' She said, 'How could I say no to that?' She is just knocking it out of the park. We're very pleased."

Bain appears in two of the seven-one acts: "Identity," in which she plays a woman suffering from Alzheimer's who mistakes her adult son for someone he's never heard of before, and "Matchmade," which finds Bain playing a widow who runs a matchmaking service for septuagenarians.

"She writes very well," Bain said of Stamos. "She writes very, very rich characters. They are not fluffy."

Stamos described Bain as an "old school" actress. "She is all about the work," said Stamos. "She is the first one there [at rehearsal], the last one to leave. She was there at all of our auditions. She works harder than anybody. She is Actors Studio and you see a lot of that in her finding the meaning in every movement. She is all about the process."

Bain started talking about her process of playing a woman suffering from Alzheimer's. "You look at what you can bring to it," she said. "You have an intrinsic feeling about how horrible it must be not to relate to what's going on around you. If you think of how to play that, it becomes much more a question of craft."

The purpose of an actor, said Bain, is to "illuminate parts of our life. That is what we are here for."


Broadway World, Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Silver Screen Magazine
Meet the Actors Who Work with Bain in LOVE STRUCK at Beverly Hills Playhouse
By Adryan Russ

There is a terrific cast of 17 in rehearsal for LOVE STRUCK, which opens at The Beverly Hills Playhouse tonight, May 11th and runs for only three weeks. Several men are working with the iconic Barbara Bain, and we were curious to know how they're enjoying the process. Their passion for this work is clear.

Nick Ullett Nick Ullett
Nick Ullett, who plays an old flame of Barbara's character in "Matchmade," the one-act in which he stars with her, says, "I have always been a fan of Barbara's, since (TV's original) 'Mission Impossible.' Therefore, working with her is simply a gift. I wander around telling people: "I'm gonna work with Barbara Bain!

"In 'Matchmade' there is one moment where I say to her: 'Let's just meet each other where we are, and not who we were.' I think that's a pretty good rule for life as well as being a particularly well-written line. Working with Barbara is working with an actor with a long history and the way in which she prepares has allowed me to slow down and find the character in a way that is new for me. Working, at her pace, allows me the time to fine-tune and clarify moments that I usually rush past in my hurry to 'get up on my feet.' She really has shown me a new way of approaching a character. She's my greatest pleasure, second only to my wife, Jenny O'Hara."

Peter Van Norden Peter Van Norden
Says Peter Van Norden, "I met Barbara about two years ago. We did a reading together of a play called "Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood" (by Mark Saltzman). I played John Barrymore. I've also known her through the Blank Theatre Company where we both have supported young playwrights, but we'd never actually worked together. When you work with someone like Barbara, who's been in the business for as long as she has, the first thing you notice is the commitment to professionalism — everything she does is geared toward making the piece a better piece, the show a better show, the rehearsal a better rehearsal. Everything is pointed toward a professional result. You can sense the years of commitment and hard work and how it pays off.

"After that, you realize that there is also an emotional commitment to the whole art form. It's not just about one theme, one character — the way you approach it technically. It's really about making the art form important. If you approach your work with an emotional intensity and involvement, as she does, people see the fact that these plays matter — they say something. That's what's truly inspiring -- working with a person who has dedicated her entire life to an art form — to the idea that there is such a thing as a performing art — the idea that there are people who can make choices and play characters. In other words, if you need someone to play a truck driver, and you go out and hire a real truck driver, you are doing the antithesis of a performing art. What you need to do is hire an actor who can make choices about what it means to be a truck driver — and you will get something more meaningful as a result. That's how Barbara works — and she is still totally not only committed to this performing art, but also passionate and excited by it. She makes you feel that you are doing something worthwhile.

"I love my role in 'Identity' as the husband of a woman succumbing to Alzheimer's. The major question isn't how are we going to treat Mom, but rather how are we going to deal with our lives, and with who she is becoming. My character exhibits the closest thing to unconditional love one could ever express. The love this man has for his wife, despite all the mistakes they've both made, there's something both heartbreaking and inspiring about someone who's made that commitment — who feels that way about another human being so intensely that the mistakes don't ruin the relationship. In fact, in some way they deepen the relationship. He's made an enhanced commitment to both his wife and his son. He's made some questionable choices in his life, but they are all geared toward doing what he thinks is right for them, because he's head-over-heels in love with both of them.

"Dale Griffiths Stamos (plawright) taps into humanity on a level that is not only identifiable, but touching. And she does it in a short play. I love working with both her and Maggie (Grant, director). Maggie has that capability to know exactly when to step in and when not to. That's a critical aspect of good directing, and she's got it."

David Roberts David Roberts
Says David Roberts,who plays Peter's son in 'Identity,' "I met Barbara at the auditions, so I haven't known her very long, but she is a definite presence -- you definitely know she's in the room, and, I have to say, she is strikingly beautiful. It's fun to watch her go deeper and deeper into her character, which completely affects my character. It's great to work with someone who allows herselfto drift off into that other land, which inspires me to do the same. Both Barbara and our director, Maggie Grant, let things happen. We've all been discovering things — it hasn't been a matter of having to do something this way or that way.

"The role I play (the son of a woman in the depths of Alzheimer's) in one of the one-acts is personal for me. My father is currently going into Early Stages of memory loss. When I first read the script, I thought, this is a powerful thing for me to go through. Some of his presence is really sharp and he can be there with you, and then all of a sudden he can't. It's really hard to watch the regression to childhood -- he's always looking for my mom. It's been good to go through discovery about that. But the funniest thing for me is that, what really came forward for me, is that it's all come down to my own mother issues!

"Dale (Griffiths Stamos) is a great writer. What I'm supposed to say next and do next — it all happens naturally. That, to me, is good writing. I love that. Maggie's process is "let it happen," which I love. Our blocking, for the most part, happened naturally. It feels like real life — I feel like I'm really in that room with my mother.

"Peter (Van Norden, who plays David's father) is tremendous. Peter is a trained, accomplished stage actor. With him you realize that he comes from the theater and knows all about the theater -- Barbara, too -- which has been inspiring to me at this time when, here in Los Angeles, focus is mostly on TV or film. I had a theater company for about six years -- we did all original work. We did well, but theater in LA can be a difficult process -- just getting people to show up. You can tell, with Peter and Barbara -- they love the theater, and that makes me love it, too."

Robert Miano Robert Miano
Robert Miano will be working with Barbara one weekend of the three-week run, May 18-20, taking over for Nick Ullett, who's finishing his work in 'The Illusion' at A Noise Within. Barbara and Robert first met at The Actors Studio. Barbara was teaching there, Robert started taking her class. "She became like a mentor to me." While they've known each other for several years, this is the first time they are working together. "It's been a delight," he says.

"Anything you take on is always new. In the process you learn new things about yourself and other people. I love the way Barbara works — she's so open. She takes risks, she's always up for trying something new. It's a wonderful experience. The role makes me go into my own past — that's how I work — I find something that feeds me as an actor so I can personalize a piece. We all experience loss. Barbara's character's loss inspires me to think about that theme — how we protect ourselves from intimacy. Her character was with her husband for 50 years, so her ability to let go is another aspect of the piece. We all tend to hold on to the past, and the more we do, it gets in the way of our being alive and living in the moment. The piece is about giving up our fear, giving up our past, so we can truly be alive, now, in the moment. When you are alive, in the moment — time stops. There is no more time. There's only the present.

Robert in enjoying the process. "Maggie is a wonderful director," he says. And having Dale (Griffiths Stamos) there — both of them. They sit there and they're like mother hens — watching over us, protecting us -- without any intrusion. They impose nothing on us but to have the freedom and the courage to explore the journey ourselves. It's so refreshing. A lot of directors enjoy controlling, telling you how to do it. But this," he says passionately, "has been such a wonderful experience. Maggie is effortless. And a result, the work becomes effortless. I'm so happy that I've been invited to be part of this. I'm grateful to The Actors Studio for this chance to work in an environment that is so supportive and nourishing to the artist."

Matthew Brenher Matthew Brenher
Matthew Brenher is featured in a LOVE STRUCK piece called "Dirty Little Secret" with director Maggie Grant, who takes a turn onstage. As a result, Matthew has the distinction of being the only one of Barbara's men to be acting opposite Maggie and directed by Barbara.

Says Matthew, "I don't know Barbara. I just started collaborating with her within the last month. It's unique, working with someone of her experience and knowledge. It's been refreshing. I've always worked with much younger directors, and I find that Barbara has insight that's new for me. I feel comfortable listening to what she finds important. We have a short play, but still she has a vision, lucidity. I've enjoyed how we've created a structure together with Maggie and how we've all put it together and made it work for ourselves. To work with someone of Barbara's experience and knowledge is gratifying."

Matthew plays Nick, a man who believes he can breeze through domestic abuse therapy sessions with his court-appointed shrink. "One of the reasons I've enjoyed absorbing this role," he says, "is that this character is definitely not someone I can relate to personally. How I can relate is difficult to go into because everyone can relate, in some way, to having a bad day, and to hauling off and expressing negative emotion. So on a certain level I can relate to him. I've not been married, and I, thank God, have not had any DUI's. But the anger issues that this character seems to touch on is something one can relate to. The violence is another thing. It's easy to express anger, but my challenge in this play is to keep a lid on that and not show it. But the character has an arc to go through — that's what's interesting to me.

"I haven't done a play for two-and-a-half years, focusing on other things. So given the opportunity to work with an award-winning writer, with Maggie who is a force herself , and Barbara — it's been fun, the exploration, collaboration — and I'm looking forward to a good run for the next three weeks. I'm honored to have this opportunity."


Love Struck at the Beverly Hills Playhouse with a Stellar Cast
By Margie Barron on April 26th, 2012

From left, Peter Van Norden, Barbara Bain, and David Roberts in "Love Struck."

If love makes the world go 'round, then the play Love Struck will be spinning gloriously at the Beverly Hills Playhouse from May 11 to 27. The show is seven one act plays about "the search for, the disappointment in, the hope for, the joy of love. It's all there," says Barbara Bain, who is part of Love Struck's stellar cast. "The short plays are richly textured. Each one has something we all can relate to with the well-observed experiences."
Bain's costars agree. Nick Ullett says, "The show illuminates all aspects of love. And the plays have moments when somebody realizes that they're in love. That is perhaps the universal moment that illuminates all of our lives, when you find in someone that which you need in yourself. It is a universal theme."
Peter Van Norden also stars and explains, "Every piece in the show has a little twist in it. Some are serious, like 'Identity,' which I do with Barbara Bain, playing my dying wife, and a surprising truth is revealed." Van Norden praises the scripts of award-winning playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos, "who gives every play a unique tone and hook to keep the audience very satisfied."
There are lots of surprises with the stories from Stamos, who Bain credits with bringing variety and tremendous depth to the show, "and she wrote some pieces with me in mind." Bain says, "These are small plays, but they're not small in thinking. A wonderful cast has come together for this and people will have a good time, no doubt."