Role of a Lifetime

Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Photo by Rimas Zailskas

As Flat Rock Playhouse launches the holiday season with its new artistic director, Lisa K. Bryant, at the helm, the expectations are high and the energy is palpable. Over the past 20 years, Bryant has served the Playhouse in many capacities, including as apprentice, teacher, and actor. However, she is only the theater’s fourth artistic director in its 62-year history.

BL: Were you attracted to the Artistic Director position because of its particular challenges?

LB: Absolutely. I’ve always been someone who has stretched myself, doing things that are hard and scary. As a teacher, if I expected that kind of risk-taking and growth from my students, I had to be the model of that myself. Had I not done that, I would never be in the position I’m in right now, however daunting it might be at times. [During her stint teaching at North Henderson High School, student participation in plays reportedly grew by 500 percent.]

What’s noteworthy about the offerings at the Playhouse in December?

[Our] version of A Christmas Carol is told through the point of view of Scrooge himself. The audience will experience how it would be if ghosts showed up in the middle of the night, tripping us down memory lane and showing us less flattering moments in our lives. It’s very much about the man finding his own redemption, not the ghosts doing it for him.

Motown Christmas features some extraordinarily dynamic singers and a tremendous five-piece band made up of local instrumentalists. It’s going to be a joyful, fun, groovy night.

You’ve had so many roles at FRP. How is the perspective different as artistic director?

Now I’m responsible for the care of all those folks who are working there, as well as serving our community. I don’t get to think about myself anymore, as just wanting that next great part. I have to think about everybody.

Will acting fit into your new life?

I think it’s important to keep a foot in that realm so as to not lose sight for the artists that I’m serving. However, that said, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to do it very often.

Do you have any mentors to help you now?

There are some tremendous board members I’m leaning on. Those mentorships are just starting to develop. But I’m in touch with so many of my past teachers and directors. If I need something, there’s somebody I can call on and say, ‘Hey, man, help me out with this.'”

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