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Bryant's new role is 'how to succeed in business'

Lisa K. Bryant is director of the Flat Rock Playhouse. Lisa K. Bryant is director of the Flat Rock Playhouse.

Lisa K. Bryant, actress, dancer, schoolteacher and director, has plunged into the role of a lifetime — making sure that the Flat Rock Playhouse survives.

Opening its music season this week with a Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons tribute show at the Playhouse Downtown, the 63-year-old State Theatre of North Carolina is trying to recover from financial challenges that have dogged it for five years.
Hired as associate artistic director in 2013, Bryant has received two battlefield promotions — the first as interim artistic director when Vincent Marini resigned a year ago. With the departure of managing director Hillary Hart last fall, Bryant has taken on most of the administrative duties as well. That has meant wielding a budget ax to cut more than $100,000 in spending. Bryant also has launched her most ambitious initiative — a broad new education program called Studio 52 that for the first time offers workshops in acting and filmmaking for ages kindergarten through adult.
After three years of appeals that the public hears as “bail us out, bail us out, bail us out,” Bryant knows that the Playhouse confronts a broad impatience and narrowing window of time to prove itself financially.
“They want to see much more clear, demonstrative results,” she says. “We’ll get there but it’s not going to happen as quickly as any of us want it to — them or us.”
She has scheduled a 2015 lineup made up of more familiar names and less risky new material. The young people’s production of “Wizard of Oz” doubled box office goal and the “Music of Abba” also acheived budgeted revenue.
When she’s asked about the new education program, she’s quick to say, “This is where I could really start running rampant” and then does just that. She bursts with evangelistic fervor — praising the instructors, touting the mission to expand the Playhouse’s artistic footprint and acclaiming the potential for stimulating the local economy through summer camp stays of kids and adults.
Bryant would not mind if the Playhouse got a huge check to make its debt disappear.
“There’s a bigger part of me that’s really proud that we’re doing all this work ourselves and we’re making the really tough decisions and we’re going to earn it, and nobody’s going to be able to take that away from any of us,” she adds. “I think people want to see that from us and I know that we want to own that as well.”
Here is the Hendersonville Lightning interview.

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