July 23, 2024

Four More Chances to Catch ‘Men on Boats’

(From top to bottom) Emma Lehman '25, Alex Lagon '24 and Hannah Lauren Chester '23 appear in UMW Theatre's production of 'Men on Boats.' Photo by Geoff Greene.

(From top to bottom) Emma Lehman ’25, Alex Lagon ’24 and Hannah Lauren Chester ’23 appear in UMW Theatre’s production of ‘Men on Boats.’ Photo by Geoff Greene.

UMW Theatre continues its 2022-2023 season with Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus. Remaining performances are Feb. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. in Klein Theatre, duPont Hall at the University of Mary Washington. Faculty and staff may purchase up to two tickets per UMW ID for just $5 each.

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