With ‘Untitled Dad Project' Podcast, Actress Examines the Father She Didn't Know

Janielle Kastner: late 20s, female, white, attractive, friendly, raised by a single mother.That might be the description a playwright would use to describe Janielle Kastner, the Dallas writer and actress whose podcast Untitled Dad Project previews on June 16 — Father’s Day — with Spoke Media. Millions of women could play that part, but for the past few years, she’s been working on becoming the protagonist in her own life. And she’s been recording the process.Kastner is trying to solve a mystery. Who was her father? Was he a good man? What motive did he have to leave her behind? Can she make some sense of the role he played, or didn’t play, in her life? She knows her father’s name, she’s seen him in pictures, but at some point he vanished. And now, he’s dead. But like an investigative journalist, she’s still asking questions, even if the truth is unknowable, even if the mystery remains unsolved.The podcast is a work of autofiction, a literary genre rarely seen in audio form, in which the author imagines herself as a character in her own life. In this case, Kastner becomes the “Janielle character,” a fatherless woman on the cusp of 30 who sets out to make a podcast as a way to cope with her grief over the death of the man who didn’t raise her. This self-appointed hero’s journey sends her to the homes of famous authors, the backlot of a soap opera and to photo albums from her childhood.At times throughout the podcast, she calls this an investigation; at other times, she calls it grieving by way of creation. She’s seeking information about the father she didn’t know, and she’s also attempting to rewrite her own story.  Continue reading...

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