“I take a lighting designer’s vision, and I make it practical. I see what they want, and I put it on stage,” Bryan said. That’s her shorthand description of the complex work that requires her to be as adept with a computer as she is with a crescent wrench. (She loves showing students how to wield a crescent wrench.)
Bryan moved to academia in 2017, after a well established career in professional theatre. Calling on math, physics, design, and problem-solving honed by years of experience, Bryan creates whatever lighting faculty and students need. At that moment her work includes, among many other responsibilities, creating a new lighting system for the university’s revamped television studio. For that she’ll develop a standalone computer network.
From her high school years, Bryan enjoyed the technical side of theatre. She recalls marching into the theatre office on her very first day at Hamilton to ask how she could get involved. “I had a wonderful mentor, the technical director at the time — his name was Bill Burd — in Minor Theater, and I just realized that lighting touched every part of theatre,” Bryan said.
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She continued to learn the craft through internships and jobs, starting as a Hamilton student with a summer gig at Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., and over the years with the Santa Fe Opera, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Chicago Lyric Opera, among others. Before Fullerton, Bryan was at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 10 years.
She’s found a career that would suit her so well that she’s never worked anywhere other than a theatre. Bryan doesn’t have a dream project she’d like to undertake. Every project she’s about to do is the dream project. “Every next thing has so much potential. That's where I want to be, that's what keeps me here,” she said.