Drama grad lands summer contract with American Players Theatre

For soon-to-be Drama alumnus Carl Bryant, the last four years have been about embracing the artistic process and the power of collaboration. Before he heads off to his summer with American Players Theatre, he took some time to reflect on his experiences at UNCSA:

Tell us what you'll be doing after graduation. How did you find this opportunity? 

This summer I’ll be at American Players Theatre in Wisconsin. I was offered a five-month contract to be a part of their company and I’ll be performing in three of their five shows, including a role as Caesar in “Our Country’s Good.” UNCSA’s School of Drama has agents, managers and casting directors who are currently in the business come down during students’ fourth year. One of the casting agents came down and we auditioned for her. A few weeks later she sent me the audition for American Players Theatre; I did it through Skype and I got it.

If you could say thank you to one person at UNCSA, who would it be? Why?

Tanya Belov. In my first year, first ever exercise here, she taught me that acting is about the other person, it’s always about the other person. That really resonates with me now in life and in acting. I am doing this for my own reasons and satisfaction, too, but acting is bigger than me and it’s not about me—it’s about the other person. Whether that’s the audience or someone I’m trying to help or just anyone that’s not me, I’m using my gift for other people. It wasn’t just for me to hold on to myself.

Acting is bigger than me and it’s not about me—it’s about the other person. Whether that’s the audience or someone I’m trying to help or just anyone that’s not me, I’m using my gift for other people.

Carl Bryant

What's your favorite performance you were a part of at UNCSA? Why?

My favorite performance would have to be as the title role in “Judas Iscariot,” directed by Quin Gordon. At the time, I was struggling with my purpose here at school. I felt like I was at a block acting-wise and I needed inspiration because I couldn’t find it within myself. Luckily, Quin was my director and at that time, he ran a 24-hour marathon… which he won. Something about hearing that he ran for 24 hours and had the strength, the mental capacity and the physical capacity to complete that allowed me to get through “Judas.”

Carl Bryant

Carl Bryant as Judas Iscariot, 2016. / Photo: Peter Mueller

I had to do something similar in that role, sitting down during the play for roughly three hours of being still, being dormant. It sounds easy, but you can’t talk and you’re only left with your thoughts. When you’re relying on the thoughts in your mind while being in character, it can cause you to really analyze yourself. Watching him complete that race inspired me through the show. 

Tell us something you wish someone had told you when you were a new student at UNCSA.

To try everything. Don’t go for the first choice, go for the most interesting. To fail. To expose yourself to different departments on campus. Coming to a place like this, you can be so focused on your own craft that you block out everyone else. But by working with other departments allows you to truly realize what a special place this is and how great the other people are that you’re studying with. And once you get to know these people, you get to collaborate because they become like your own little studio.

Caryl Bryant

Carl Bryant (far right) as Signor Sereilli in "Right You Are (If You Think You Are)." / Photo: Peter Mueller

I was part of Project Love my first year on campus and was asked by a dance student to sing with two other classmates. It was the first time I did something at the school and through that event I met so many dancers and helped bloom a relationship with those other two people who are now my best friend and my roommate. I have been part of a music video, helped premiere new music by student composers, I’ve acted in a movie. Just by reaching out, I was able to meet these people and help bring their vision to life. 

What did you learn from working alongside your peers?

There’s always going to be somebody better than you at what you do. There’s always someone who has a different eye than you have. It’s not up to you to compare yourself to that person, but to find out what makes you unique and magnify that. You will get to a certain point where everyone can do what you do and the next step is individuality. It’s only when you find what makes your art unique that it has volume and says something.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote? Why is it special?

“Fear is excitement without breath.” That’s been important to me lately. Being a fourth year, I tell myself I’m ready for this moment but there’s always that voice in the back of your mind that says, “But are you?” And I feel like in your lifetime you are going to be faced with those moments. Fear is always going to be present, but you just have to breathe into those moments and you’ll be ready to move forward.

What's something valuable you learned at UNCSA?

It’s a process, no matter the craft you’re in. If you’re looking for immediate success or you’re just going for the product, this isn’t the place for you. I feel like this place breaks you down and builds you back up piece by piece. And you won’t get broken down and built back up in a day or even in your first year. Art is a process and you have to sit back and allow these things to happen to you in order to fully understand the craft.

by Corrine Luthy

May 02, 2018