Fencing ourselves in? by Doris Gardner-McCraw (storyteller, author, vocalist & acting coach)

My Riehlife mission is to create connections through the arts and across cultures. I’m always thrilled to meet multi-talented creative folks. Doris Gardner-McCraw and I both belong to Women Writing the West. I invited her to share some thoughts on how one art discipline feeds into another.

Doris is a storyteller, author, vocalist and acting coach. She performs murder mysteries on the train routes such as Chama, New Mexico.I asked her to us how she manages all these activities. Are her talents and genres linked? Are they channels for different kinds of creative energies, maybe? How are genres themselves linked? For instance, rhythm is a principle that runs throughout all art practices.

Riehlife: Doris, you are multi-talented: as a storyteller, author, vocalist, and acting coach living in Colorado. How did Red Herring, the murder mystery company, that travels in the nearby states hear of your work?

Doris: The Cumbres-Toltec had heard of our work and contacted us to do the train show. It looks like we may do another four ‘moonlight’ trains in 2010.

Riehlife: How do you avoid fencing yourself in?

Doris: How I can do all the different things I do? Well, why not? If you look closely they all are really different facets of the same thing. Each feeds information to the others. For example, when I do a murder mystery I am improvising most of the evening while interacting with the audience. That connects to the historical character performances I do, for they also are interactive. I learn comfort from one and the history I learn while researching feeds into my mystery character information.

While performing on the Cumbres-Toltec I was able to get a real feel for how early railroad passengers felt while riding the rails.

When I write, whether murder mystery scripts, short stories or novels, each and every experience feeds into what I do. The same can be said for the acting and performance classes I teach.

I would also say that I had the gift of parents who never set limits on what I was capable of doing. If I wanted to try something I had their blessing. And that as they say has made all the difference.

You can follow Doris on her two blogs:

You’re On! (for actors)

You can find Doris on Twitter.
Read Doris’ profile.

Similar Posts


  1. For those who are curious:

    Below is one of the ways my life works. I was doing research for a book and upcoming historic storytelling and started speaking with the library staff. They were putting together the program for the launch of the book, Extraordinary Women of the Rocky Mountain West and when she heard I brought Helen Hunt Jackson to life, I was booked to be the featured speaker at the event listed below. Life works in fun ways.

    Helen Hunt Jackson at the Penrose Public Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.
    Colorado Springs, March 18, 2010 at 11:00am.
    Call 719-531-6333 ext 2253 for more information

    Doris McCraw

  2. I have had the pleasure of watching Doris perform. She is able to take the facts of a person’s life and brings that person to live. Many just recite backs, but Doris actually breathes life into her personnas. The most important aspect however, is her willingness to share her knowledge and her gift

  3. I have known Doris for a few years now and see her as a very multifaceted and talented woman. Her gentle demeanor and ease of conversation makes this special woman a true joy to listen to. She has a passion for what she does and wouldn’t know a barrier if she saw it. There are no barriers for individuals that know that limits don’t have to exist. What have you got to lose? What can you gain. Doris is a winner at all angles!

  4. Heidi, Dianne, and Ingrid,

    Thanks for commenting on Doris’ guest post. Women Writing the West are the best of gals!

    I loved featuring Doris and her many talents on Riehlife. Welcome to the tribe of creative people expressing themselves in multiple media.

    Janet Riehl

  5. Thank you to everyone for you kind and wonderful comments. I have to say, I just never realized that others don’t do the same as I do. You have given me a great gift. I return it in multiples to you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *