When you walk into Gigi Jennewein’s office, you will be greeted by her wide smile, numerous posters from past shows at DePauw and Indianapolis, a gray crutch against the wall behind her, and some jazz music with an infectious beat.
And just like the music playing softly in her office, Jennewein’s happy demeanor is infectious. If you let her, she’ll tell you about her kids, how much she loves life as an artist, and maybe even recommend a TV series or two. And she’ll explain the crutch, too.
“I broke my foot the day before the first day of class,” Jennewein said laughing. “I broke this yesterday, so if I’m here, then you have to be too.”
Jennewein came to DePauw 25 years ago with her husband and coach of the DePauw men’s basketball team, Bill Fenlon, to teach acting. “I only thought I would be here for three to five years,” she said, “I mean he’s (Fenlon) so, so happy, and so am I. And I just get to be an artist.”
Jennewein is a permanent part-time professor at the University, and she teaches two classes per semester. “I also wanted to maintain a professional career. As a theatre artist to maintain a professional career means you have to be free when other people are free, so it’s not like I’m a writer and I can do it on my own time or a visual artist. I collaborate with people, and because I do that I like to keep my schedule with enough flexibility in it so if something should come up, I can hop on it,” Jennewein said. “That’s not to say I’m bored though, because I will fill my schedule.”
And Jennewein is always doing interesting work as an artist in the Indianapolis area. She recently acted in a Tennessee Williams' play “The Mutilated,” which one of her former students, Lukas Schooler, directed. “I’m sort of like the older mentor who is like what do you need me to do?” Jennewein said. “It’s really cool getting to see these people become these 30-year-old professionals, and for me to just kind of sit back and watch.”
In addition to teaching acting classes, acting in various productions, and working part-time, Jennewein has volunteered and directed plays at the Indiana Women’s Prison and has lead the Shakespeare in the Schools program. She loved having the freedom to explore the things she loves. “I’m glad that I just get to say yes to certain things.”