BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
There seems to be something about Bloomington that pulls back the people who have lived here and left. For Gabe Gloden, recently returned from a self-described “walkabout away from Bloomington,” it was the city’s professional theater scene that lured him back.
With a master’s from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Gloden had served as managing director of Bloomington Playwrights Project before leaving to take a development position at Wayne State University in Detroit. “My wife—who was my girlfriend then—and I were deciding what we wanted to do with the next phase of our lives,” Gloden explains. “We both decided we wanted to pursue some other opportunities elsewhere that were a little more lucrative. We loved living in Detroit but then started to kind of feel the pull back to theater.” The family moved to Idaho for a year where Gloden worked in theater. It was good, he says, but it wasn’t as good as Bloomington.
Gloden recalls that while they were living in Michigan, the Ann Arbor professional theater company closed down. “And yet, here in Bloomington we have two professional theater centers that are thriving,” he says. “And I get to be part of the next evolution of the theater here. It’s a big honor.” These days, the 36-year-old is serving as managing director for Cardinal Stage Company.
“My goal is to make sure that professional theater in Bloomington, independent of Indiana University, is safe and can continue to thrive. Building that love and appreciation for theater beyond our core group of theater lovers is something that Cardinal has done exceedingly well over the last 10 years,” he says. “What Cardinal Stage becomes in this next 10 years is really going to be the community deciding what it wants from its professional theater in town.”
Gloden’s wife, Emily Goodson, is a playwright and Bloomington native with family nearby. Together, the dramatic duo is raising two toddlers. Being in Bloomington means the kids will be closer to their grandparents.
“Trying to raise kids while my wife works another full-time job and continues to pursue her career as an artist in theater has been a crazy ride,” Gloden says. “If we lived elsewhere, it would be a lot easier to give up on that dream, but being in Bloomington definitely makes it easy to continue to pursue it. The sense of community that Bloomington offers is just really special.”