“I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”
The crowd looked on as Bottom, the character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, awoke from his inspirational slumber in this past weekend’s performance. As many in the audience knew, the actor playing the bombastic, whimsical man was Cam Cronin, LSOE ’12, soon to end his tenure at Boston College and wave farewell to the stage of Robsham Theatre.
For Cronin, this final performance was the culmination of a career filled with many personal connections. His complete dedication to the theatre department has been the result of a lifelong passion for the arts, and love for connecting with his colleagues.
“It’s something that I had always done before, and I wanted to keep doing it,” he said of performing in the theatre. “That’s what initially drew me to the program. Why I wanted to keep doing it was the people. I got a lot from the people. It’s one of the ways that I’ve always felt fulfilled. To me, it’s a way to be a little bit selfish in that I want to fulfill my own creative desire. The theatre program is something that has really done that for me. It’s been very personal in the sense that it’s something that I’ve felt very fulfilled by, but it’s also been about the relationships I’ve developed with the people, both the people I’ve acted with and people I’ve worked with on marketing a show and people I’ve worked on producing a show with. It’s top to bottom in that sense.”
Cronin’s peers in the arts community respect this dedication and leadership in the performing arts. Luke Jorgensen, a professor in the theatre department, has directed him on stage in multiple roles, and professed great respect for his star actor.
“Cam Cronin is a perfect example of a student who started out strong and just gained momentum over the years,” he said. “He has been in many Robsham productions, including Twelfth Night, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Threepenny Opera, and, of course, Midsummer Night’s Dream. I may be biased, but I think his best work was in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I think he always puts the importance and the necessities of a project before himself. He’s very intelligent, very hardworking, very professional, and he has taken a leadership position, both within our department and in different arts organizations and in Boston College in general.”
Scott Cummings, chairperson of the theatre department, agreed that Cronin has made great strides throughout his career, and has made a significant impact on the department.
“Cam takes his performance work very seriously, and approaches it very professionally,” he said. “In that regard, he’s a model for younger, less experienced students.”
Hailing from nearby Wakefield, Mass., Cronin has been a staple in the BC community. Aside from his work in the theatre department, the St. John’s Prep alumnus has worked as a UGBC senator, Orientation Leader, and prospective teacher in the Lynch School. When asked how he is able to balance these positions, and acting as a modern day “renaissance man,” Cronin laughed, and said, “The term ‘renaissance man’ is very flattering to me. To be totally honest, it’s something that I take as a very big compliment, because the idea of multiple intelligences and the ability to do a lot of diverse thing is so important today. So, that I like a lot.”
Peter Folan, assistant director at the Office of First Year Experience, has worked closely with Cronin over the last four years. Folan has mentored him through his summer as an Orientation Leader, as well as a 48Hours leader. The two have created a close bond over the years, and Folan has been extremely pleased with Cronin’s progression, especially in his ability to relate with people and think beyond his own needs.
“I’ve known Cam since he was a freshman, so I’ve seen him over the four years grow in confidence, grow in ability, and grow in his commitment and care for his fellow peers at BC,” he said. “I think that his strength and the hallmark of Cam Cronin is his desire to work with BC students, so that they can maximize their time and experience here. That’s a gift that he has. I think why he made such a great Orientation Leader and a great 48Hours leader was that ability to go the extra mile.”
Cronin himself believes that this aspect of his development has been the most important in his respective commitments on campus.
“I think it’s all about personal connections,” he said. “The first thing I can think of when I’m trying to find a link between acting, teaching and being an Orientation Leader is connecting with people.”
This aspect of Cronin’s repertoire has been noticeable even on the stage, despite the fact that he is playing out the lives of made-up characters. For Cronin, portraying the role of someone else never strays too far from his own personality. He uses this, as well as his real-life relationships, to have an impact on the audience and bring the story to life.
“The way I think about it is that every character that I play has a lot of me in it,” he said. “I have to draw on my own personal experiences in order to get into something. I can’t put something on from outside of me. It has to come from within. So when I did Twelfth Night, I’m kind of beat up on emotionally by people. I thought back to time, ‘When did that happen to me? What did that feel like? How did I respond? How would I respond up there?’ What I try to do is rely on experiences that I’ve had, and also the experiences that other people have had. It’s certainly not just a ‘me’ process, but rather how do I use my interactions with other people around me.”
This desire to present himself truly and fully has brought him into the Lynch School, where he hopes to continue interacting with people, and use his own experiences to inspire young minds. While Cronin never saw himself as a teacher growing up, his willingess to help others and make connections has led him back to the classroom. He even sees the job as a way to utilize his skills on the stage in real life.
“It’s like you’ve got five different audiences for an hour a day,” he said. “That’s something that appealed to me, and having to be on and playing a role, not necessarily being yourself, but kind of having a persona that takes over and is engaging. That was drawing to me, and also giving back. I like to talk about my experiences. I think that’s a good thing. Being able to give that to students and give my personal story and letting them go with it. The teachers I found I liked the best, and people I would try to emulate to be like, were people who didn’t tell you the way it was but told you their story and then said do what you want with it. You take this and see how it works for you. If it works, great, and, if not, find something else, because it has to be personal.”
Folan, who saw the dynamic nature of Cronin during Orientation last summer, recognizes the “genuine” nature of the senior. This ability to be comfortable in himself and truly care for the incoming students gave Cronin a great sense of how to connect. Folan notices this ability to remain authentic in his roles on stage.
“One of the qualities of a great actor is their ability to perform, and that performance piece in some ways can be hollow and it can’t be representative of who that person is,” he said. “I think why Cam is so successful on the stage is that he connects well with people because they sense that authenticity in him, even when he’s acting and performing in a part.”
For Cronin, who is hoping to stay involved in the performing arts in some capacity, the biggest thing he has learned during his time at BC is to respect and appreciate the little things, from simple gestures to small interactions.
“Every interaction that I have with people is a new and exciting thing for me,” he said. “That’s even as simple as holding a door for someone. Father Don gave this quote a while back about how BC, to him, is about walking from Hillside up through O’Neill to Gasson Hall, and holding the door for the same person four times, and each time saying thank you and you’re welcome. That is right on for me. That is what I really agree with. The small everyday interactions with people are what really matter.
“I’m all about college being about the deep conversations with friends in a dorm room. That’s great, too, but if every single day I can affect someone in a small basis, that’s just as important to me. I try to do that in my everyday interactions and the groups I’m involved in and any new people that I meet in general.”