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Caitlin Kane named Public Humanities Fellow

By: Julian Robison,  Department of Performing and Media Arts
May 10, 2017

Caitlin Kane, a PhD student in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, has been selected as a 2017–2018 Public Humanities Fellow at Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities.

The fellowship, developed by the Society for the Humanities and Humanities New York, is aimed at encouraging scholars to bring their research interests into the public realm and strengthen the state’s public humanities community. The graduate students selected for the yearlong fellowship represent several New York universities, and throughout the year they will gather in New York City and in online forums to develop their skills.

Each fellow also develops a project with a community-based partner to explore the public dimensions of their work. For Kane, this is The Loneliness Project, a documentary theatre piece that will be presented in April 2018 by the Department of Performing and Media Arts and Civic Ensemble, an Ithaca-based theatre company. The play will use direct testimony from members of Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ communities to document their rich history and perseverance in a time when legal advancements are in jeopardy and community needs are frequently overlooked.

The ethics of documentary performance are among Kane’s research interests. Kane noted how through the process of crafting verbatim plays, documentary artists develop long-term relationships with and become attached to the communities they work with. “I hope to open up alternative ways of thinking through and addressing the ethical concerns that are necessarily embedded in this mode of theatrical creation,” Kane said.

For Kane, theatre is necessarily a form of the public humanities because the process of playwriting, particularly for documentary pieces, is one of collective meaning making. Kane explained that the fellowship is an opportunity to explore this process from the position of a scholar rather than her more familiar position as an artist.

The Loneliness Project is a passion project for Kane, and the fellowship opens up time for her and some of her collaborators, including Kelli Simpkins, Al Evangelista, and Reed Motz, to work on it. “The early stages of this work—collecting these stories, transcribing them, spending time getting to know them intimately—has already been transformative for many of us involved,” she said. Kane hopes the project can help bring this experience to Ithaca artists and audiences.

Designers, actors, and other artists, particularly folks on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, interested in working on the project can contact Kane at cak269@cornell.edu.

Julian Robison '20 is a communications assistant for the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

2015 reading of 'The Loneliness Project' (photo credit: Timmy Samuel)

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