Caleb Dukes '22

From their first year at Rice, Caleb’s dedication to the theatrical arts consistently intersected with dedication to social justice and engaged research on issues related to gender and sexuality. Their consistent drive to create conversations through theater about the transgender community, sexual assault, and LGBTQ hate crimes helped Rice become a more aware, more thoughtful, and more inclusive place.

In Caleb’s second year at Rice, they wrote, directed, and performed at Lovett a one-act play called My Song: An Exploration in Group Therapy. In spring 2021, Caleb produced the Rice Players’ staging of The Laramie Project, which chronicles the reactions to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard. As producer, Caleb was involved with every aspect of the show, working tirelessly to stage and promote it. They supervised all of the creative decisions, ran the show’s budget, and built the set. Since the production ran during COVID, they were unable to perform in front of a live audience. Instead, the performance was live-streamed and shown at individual colleges, allowing this powerful story to be disseminated to a larger audience.

As a senior, Caleb completed their English Honors Thesis, The Feminine Urge, a full-length play about trans femme people that drew on Caleb’s own experiences. The play considers queer villainy, “diving into the complexities of a desire for revenge against [an anti-LGBTQ] world” while also exploring “a fear of portraying the queer community in a bad light.”