RYAN'S HOPE Pub Owner Is Professor of Theater at New York's Brooklyn College
April 1, 1978
There aren't many college professors who feel at home behind the bar of a traditional Irish tavern, and there are even fewer saloon keepers who envision themselves at a lectern, instructing students in a college classroom. But Johnny Ryan, patriarch of a lively clan on ABC's RYAN'S HOPE and lord and master of all her surveys from behind the long mahogany bar of his neighborhood pub, is not played by just any actor, but by none other than Dr. Bernard Barrow, professor of theater at Brooklyn College.
Bernie's experience in both fields of endeavor is extensive. He began his professional acting career when he was a child, and later accumulated a long list of television credits including roles on THE EDGE OF NIGHT, SECRET STORM and WHERE THE HEART IS. He has taught at Columbia, Yale, University of California at Berkeley and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
"I enjoy teaching - it's something I've spent my life doing," said the veteran actor reflecting on his other career. Bernie teaches students to use their own characteristics in the roles they play and focuses his instruction on working in front of a live audience as opposed to talking to cameras - which he maintains is more difficult.
In addition to is teaching duties, Bernie has directed over 25 theater productions at Brooklyn College, and is currently in rehearsal for that institution's forthcoming play, "The Frogs" by Aristophanes, freely adapted for today by Burt Shevelove with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. He has also lectured at the University of Maryland on the subject of soap operas as a manifestation of popular American culture, using serial storylines as a teaching tool.
Bernie enjoys portraying the strong-willed Irishman on RYAN'S HOPE, emphasizing how Johnny gives so much guidance and direction to his busy progeny. "Serial acting is the hardest, most satisfying acting I know," the professor says, and he uses his RYAN'S HOPE experiences to illustrate his lessons.
Bernie plans to take a sabbatical leave from Brooklyn College next year to travel around the country visiting college acting classes for some more ideas - when the RYAN'S HOPE taping schedule permits, of course.