Bryan College’s New Theatre Director

1 year ago Triangle 0

The only lights on in Alexis Landry’s office are lamps, bathing the large room in warmth. She looks at home in the room, a small woman in a big chair behind a big desk. Her red hair is nearly always pulled back into a tight ponytail, with barrettes and bobby pins smoothing back any stray hairs. For classes, she dresses neatly and professionally. It was difficult to arrange a time to meet for the interview, for Landry was busy preparing for the performance of the school’s opera – The Marriage of Figaro.

Landry grew up surrounded by the performing arts. She was raised in a family of musicians and did ballet for 18 years; however, despite her immersion in the arts, it wasn’t until eight grade that she realized her passion for theatre.

“I loved the idea of becoming an entirely different person for a short time, and telling a story that would make people connect with a world outside of reality,” she said. Although she loved theatre, she went to Bryan College with the intention of becoming a collaborative musician. Landry graduated from Bryan in 2013 with two degrees: Piano Performance and Theatre.

While at Bryan, she performed in several Hilltop Players productions, quickly becoming part of the Hilltop Players family. Landry was the only freshman to be cast in a lead role for Bryan’s dessert theatre show, Steel Magnolias. “Being in a show with all upperclassmen definitely influenced my growth as an actress and a potential leader,” said Landry. In her junior year, Landry began her directing career as the assistant director for Bryan’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

After graduating from Bryan, she took a year off from school before obtaining a two year Master’s degree in Speech/Theatre from Louisiana Tech University. Her time at Louisiana Tech is what she recognizes as the start of her passion to pursue a career in directing.

In the fall semester of 2018, Alexis Landry took over the Bryan College Theatre Department from previous director Bernie Belisle. Belisle was the director while Landry attended Bryan.

When she was a senior, she heard a rumor that Belisle may be retiring in a few years, and even back then she knew this would be her dream job. She recognizes Belisle as the reason she truly fell in love with the stage. “Mr. B was not only my director, but a mentor and, as the years have gone by, a friend.” His daughter, Emilie, was Landry’s college roommate and current best friend.

Ms. Belisle speaks fondly of Landry. “One of the many things I love and appreciate about Alexis is her passion. For learning, for theatre, for people, for memories.” She says Landry has a gift for bringing people together, but that many of her favorite memories are those of just she and Landry spending time together.

Ms. Belisle mentioned memories of photo shoots, road trips while singing their hearts out to the Glee soundtrack, or simply sitting together in Bryan’s grassy bowl. The two have been best friends for nearly a decade now, and the friendship continues to be a constant source of love and support for the both of them.

Landry’s students see her as more than a director and a professor – they see her as a friend. She has truly achieved her dream and life goal of being a professor and director who “cared beyond the classroom door.”

Teagan Hughes, a senior and theatre major at Bryan College, said it’s easy to explain why Landry fits the job so well. Hughes speaks of Landry as an encouraging, hands on person and one of the best directors she has ever worked with. “She genuinely cares and knows what each of us needs. She relates to us,” said Hughes. She tells stories of Landry hosting students in her apartment and inside jokes she shares with her students. Landry is, without a doubt, a friend as well as a teacher; someone who cares beyond the classroom door.

When Landry isn’t running rehearsals or teaching theatre to Bryan students, she loves reading, listening to music and creative writing. Her favorite thing is spending time with the people she loves. Although she is all about performing arts, she said she is terrible at anything having to do with visual arts – drawing, painting, sketching, etc. Landry says she has a not-so-secret obsession with llamas. “I also really, really, really, really want a cat. I don’t know what else to say about this.”

Landry recognizes the flaws in the Bryan College Theatre Department, as well as where she wants to grow as the director. With a limited budget and limited manpower, there is a long list of things that aren’t exactly as Landry would prefer them to be. However, she says she is trying to learn how to be more adaptable.

She quotes one of her favorite TV shows, Grace and Frankie, as her life mantra for this theatre season: “I’m learning to live with a very flexible definition of ‘okay.’” Landry said it is important to be flexible and adaptable in the world of theatre. “If I can learn this and apply it more concretely to my life. I think it will make me a much more efficient director, administrator and educator,” Landry said

There are two lessons Landry has learned in her career as a director. The first is that you can’t make everyone happy. No matter how hard you work and how perfect a production is, there will always be a cast member who may have been unsatisfied with their role or an audience member who didn’t like the show. The second obstacle is that of the difficulty of collaboration, because artists in theatre have different ideas of how the director’s vision for the show should be realized. Ultimately, the director must make sure all these ideas work together in harmony to create one seamless image for the production.

Randi Hazelwood is a digital media major and an assistant editor for the Bryan Triangle. She enjoys creative writing, listening to music, and saying things that make no sense.