July 20, 2024

UMW Theatre’s ‘Men on Boats’ Opens Feb. 9





UMW Theatre will continue its 2022-2023 season with Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus. Performances will be February 9-11 & 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., and February 12 & 19 at 2:00 p.m. in Klein Theatre, duPont Hall at the University of Mary Washington. Guests may also attend the Pay-What-You-Can Preview performance on February 8 at 7:30 p.m. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place after the matinee performance on February 12. Tickets are $25 for standard admission and $20 for students, senior citizens, and military. Groups of ten or more can receive a discount as well.

Men on Boats tells the story of ten adventurous men that embark on an expedition down the Colorado River. Set in 1869, this mostly factual historical journey is led by John Wesley Powell, a Civil War veteran, and his crew of disparate men. As they chart a path through the great American West, the explorers face hardships within their environment and amongst their rank. Their quest for fortune turns into one of struggle as tensions rise and they experience the true dangers of conquering the Grand Canyon.

Men on Boats is a dramatized retelling of the true 1869 expedition down the Colorado and Green Rivers. This journey was led by Major John Wesley Powell, who recorded the entire enterprise in his personal journal.  The journal was later turned into a novel, The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, which was published in 1895. Powell’s journal entries serve as the first recorded passage of white men through the Grand Canyon. Jaclyn Backhaus drew on these reports for her narrative, gleaning inspiration from the historical voyage. Backhaus decided to adapt the circumstances by re-gendering the ten original male crew members. The casting for Men on Boats calls for female-identifying individuals and non-binary actors to portray these historical roles. Although the story remains relatively accurate, the characters have been reimagined to represent modern awareness and inclusivity.

Men on Boats is directed by Marc Williams, assistant professor of theatre. Scenic design is by assistant professor Michael Benson and costume design is by associate professor Kevin McCluskey. Lighting and sound design are by guest designers Cat Girardi and G Clausen, respectively. For further information, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at (540) 654-1111 or visit www.FredTix.com