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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.

“It’s awful. I had never been in that position to have to let anybody go. For the first time ever I’m sitting across from my very good friends and saying ‘I’m sorry. I’m going to have to let you go.’ But I will tell you that, almost entirely to a man, they were comforting me. They were handling better than I was — because they knew. They understood what’s been going on. It’s no secret.”

What did you learn from Hillary Hart?

“She was steadfast, she was focused. She was just a warrior. She was doing such incredibly hard thankless work and it was not fun. She was getting the brunt of everything, and then having to turn around and be the ‘no person’ to the staff. She never got to yes. But she was brave and smart, and she was the right person for the right time. She had the resilience to be able to say no. I learned a lot from Vince, too, to be fair. I really do believe that Robin (Farquhar) would have loved to do some of the things that Vince did. … What he was to the extreme in the artistic, (Hart) was to the extreme in the numbers and being disciplined.”

What about the revenue side?
“No theater can survive on just event sales alone. We’ve done a lot of asking for money in recent years so it’s difficult, understandably so, for people to not hear us saying, ‘Please support us because our arts need funding, beyond the sale of our product,’ without hearing it as ‘bail us out, bail us out, bail us out.’ And we’re having to confront that truth as well. We understand, we don’t begrudge anybody feeling that way but it doesn’t change the fact that we still can’t do it without help — even if we were fine. Even if we didn’t have the challenges that we have right now, we would still need government and contributed revenue.”

Can you talk about the new education programing?
“Much of it was a combination of my own experience, an idea for a vision of how it serves the whole Playhouse. … I know that the faculty we’re going to have, with Dave Hart and Olivia Palmer is going to be awesome. She’s the 20-something generation of art storytellers. She’s going to be great with the kids. She’s going to be a great director with a different point of view. I’m betting a little bit on their expertise but their success rate everywhere has been tremendous.”

You’ve had youth education. What’s your forecast for the adult enrollment in Studio 52?