We had the good fortune of connecting with Gail Cronauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gail, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Making the choice to enter the arts is always a risk! “When are you going to get a real job?” Fortunately, my immediate family always supported me – which was probably a risk for them. I turned down a tenure position at SMU years ago when I had 2 small children and a husband who was an aspiring writer and struggling with health issues. I was confident that I would find income in some way – and I always did. I’ve often been faced with FOLLOW YOUR HEART OR YOUR HEAD decisions, in taking or turning down jobs and as well as when I’m in the middle of one . I live by the advice: DO WHAT SCARES YOU. For me it’s all about growing and discovering what it possible. Not that I always succeed. Sometimes I still “chicken out.” Putting myself back out there is risky but so is getting up in the morning! One of the riskiest things I do at this point in my life is take time to NOT do anything, or at least do things that don’t seem directly connected to work or accomplishments. Like studying Italian and German! Who knows where that may take me?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am primarily an actor – on stage and, more recently, on screen. I’ve had most of my career here in Dallas, TX — which is an accomplishment in and of itself– with occasional trips to LA and “the regions” (OK, Louisiana, VA). However, some of my most rewarding and creative moments have been in the classroom as a teacher or in rehearsal when I have been directing a play. I love facilitating the creative growth of others. Moving amongst those areas is exhilarating – like moving between cultures or languages. I love that challenge and the opportunities to adapt, reset, re-tool. I’ve taught in academia for almost 50 years, led a theatre discipline, while keeping my professional career alive, working in stage plays, TV and film. Each one of those experience enriches and informs the others. I have flown to Austin for a film rehearsal in the morning and back to Dallas for a show that night. I have taught classes in the morning, directed a show at night and found a way to escape to a film set for a few days. At one point, I took 3 years off to devote myself to my children’s needs and came back renewed, recommitted and found work. I cared for my husband at home, on hospice, for 2 1/2 year and with the help of amazing caregivers was able to continue working and earning the benefits we needed. I’ve learned that there are no direct lines to anything: the road can be bumpy, winding, even closed at times, but the journey continues if you commit to it and believe in it. I believe that healthy habits are key: awareness, exercise, diet, mental and physical all-bing and care. What’s next? In my 8th decade, I want to see depictions of women who are still alive and VITAL, not merely demented and dying. We have so much to contribute. The President is older than I am and still going strong and bringing skill and wisdom to the job that someone half his age couldn’t. I want to do the same.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the theatre and dance scenes and would hope their trip would be delayed until we can safely see LIVE PERFORMANCES. I love the Arboretum, Bachman Lake at sundown. I love wandering around the cityscape downtown and taking in the amazing architecture. I loved Trinity Groves and being able to “shop” for an interesting and undiscovered place to dine or drink. Day tripping from Dallas is great, especially in the spring (wild flowers!) or fall (beautiful skies and natural light). And MUSEUMS, in Dallas and Fort Worth and beyond (Dr. Pepper in Waco is such fun.) It would be great to head north to the Arbuckle Wilderness for a day and south to the Hill Country. PEOPLE are the area’s GREATEST NATURAL RESOURCE. Any kind of festival or gathering that would let us meet them would be great. And the art’s scene: we would go class blowing or wood turning somewhere, maybe after taking in a gallery in the Design District and grabbing some fish at Flying Fish.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My immediate family: Adam, Noah, 3 sisters, and Jim. They’ve kept me honest and taught me how to laugh. More recently, Lisa Dalton: a mentor who opened up a whole new chapter or learning and creating.