Loneliness Project tackles LGBTQ isolation in Chicago

The Association of Graduates in Theatre is collaborating with The History Center and Ithaca’s Civic Ensemble to present a staged reading of a “documentary” play, “The Loneliness Project,” April 19-21. It uses testimony to document LGBTQ activist history in Chicago and is co-written and co-directed by Cornell doctoral student Caitlin Kane and colleagues Kelli Simpkins, Reed Motz and Al Evangelista.

The play was inspired by an assessment of Chicago’s LGBTQ communities in 2012, which revealed that youth and seniors were experiencing similar health, housing and safety needs, Kane said. These two populations also expressed profound loneliness sparked in part by their isolation from LGBTQ communities and resources, Kane said. More than 60 LGBTQ youth, seniors and service providers were interviewed.

“We often talk about this play as an ‘impossible play.’ It spans several generations of LGBTQ people in their own words [and] strives to deepen community engagement while also creating space for critique, and is simultaneously epic and personal,” Kane said.

The April 19-21 performances won’t be the final product, but rather a showcase of some of the moments and scenes the playwrights have developed, Kane said. They will also feature post-show conversations about their approaches to developing the work.

The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 19, 5 p.m. April 20 and 7:30 p.m. April 21 in The Black Box Theatre at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. It will also be performed at 2 p.m. April 21 at The History Center in Tompkins County. Tickets cost $5 for the Schwartz Center shows and pay what you can for The History Center performance.

The co-production has been made possible with funds from The History Center in Tompkins County, Humanities New York, New York State Council on the Arts, Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, Cornell Council for the Arts, the President’s Council of Cornell Women and several Cornell departments.

Anna Carmichael is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Jeff Tyson