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Alumni News

In the Director’s Chair with Gary Crask

GaryCrask

Author, actor and filmmaker Gary Crask’s (Ball State, ’67) most recently published book opens with this poem:

“An Ode to a Life Well Lived”

To this life we live

part by poetry

part by prose

and at different times

in varied combinations of those

The poetry is the passion

the hopes and the dreams

The prose is the business

the day to day themes

But when it’s all over

and we face life’s review

our final repose

it’s the poetry we will see

and none of the prose

While it is a simple enough poem, the message of following one’s passion has been at the forefront of Gary’s life for as long as he can remember.

Gary will be the first to admit that his life has been anything but conventional. Following graduation, he found himself right in the heart of the entertainment business in Hollywood.

After landing his own agent (the only agent Bob Hope ever had, no less) and several auditions including one for Gunsmoke, 20th Century Fox & Parmount, Gary came to the realization that Hollywood might not be for him. Though he loved the challenge and pace of acting, he also knew that he had many other passions to explore.

So, the Indiana native returned home and began his next adventure in the education system as a substitute teacher. Though he didn’t plan to stay long, the teacher he was filling in for left. He was in the interesting spot with his teaching license to continue on if he chose. Gary made the call to try his hand in teaching, but the routine became too much for his free spirit.

On he went to his next adventure in insurance for 10 years, all  the while acting and perfecting his craft on the side. Over the next 10 years when he was not maintaining his own insurance agency, he was out in his community creating spaces for actors like him. During the summer of 1977, Gary was instrumental in opening the Mackinac Island Summer Playhouse at the Grand Hotel as well as opening the Forest Park Inn Dinner Theater at the Inn in the Park in his hometown of Noblesville, Indiana the winter before.

Now in Minneapolis, Gary works as a remodeling contractor while still making a splash in the entertainment business.

In 2010, Gary and his son, Brian, wrote, produced and directed the film Spirits of St. Paul which would go on to win the Orson Welles Award and be named Best Period Film at the Manhattan Film Festival. The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi.

With everything that Gary has experienced, he began writing down his life’s story, which led to three novels. His most recent book, From the Other Side of the Track, was recently recognized as one of the best independently published books in the country in 2020.

But through all of his many endeavors, his relationships and connections made along the way are his most treasured memories. From speaking at the annual alumni banquet at his high school in 2013 to coaching his children and others, Gary has created a meaningful life.

To quote Joseph Campbell, follow your bliss. Find what makes you happy and don’t worry about what makes you rich.

Gary Crask

One lesson that Gary has taken with him through everything is to be familiar with failure and greet it as a friend time and time again without letting it take away from trying something new.

“I have this philosophy that so many people are afraid to try something,” said Gary. “Their fear holds them back and prevents them from every doing anything that they maybe would have enjoyed doing.”

For Gary, there is a certain boldness about trying new things that has found its way into his life that he hopes others can emulate.

“What I learned from all of this is you have to try, and you have to experiment, you research, you think about it, and move forward until you find that you can’t do something, at which time, you’re done,” said Gary.

To anyone just starting out on their life’s journey or looking to try something new, Gary urges them to lead with passion, because at the end, it will be the passion that will have made all the difference.

“I’ve had these incredible experiences, and it’s just all a great life.”

For more information about Gary’s projects, please visit garycrask.com

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