PRODUCED BY ARANSAS REPERTORY THEATER ON THE RIALTO STAGE
Written by Jaclyn Backhaus
In this swashbuckling comedic play, MEN ON BOATS takes an innovative approach by casting ten women in the roles of the first "white" discoverers of the Grand Canyon. The use of "on boats," instead of "in boats," indicates the state of being in which the actresses find themselves -- a history panorama where gender and race play little part.
The focus are the characters -- an ensemble of actors -- brave, stalwart adventurers, who risked life and, in one case, limb (one-armed leader John Wesley Powell), to chart undiscovered territories in 1869. Though this compelling play would have worked just as effectively if the roles were to be played by men, boundaries between male and female are quickly forgotten as this delightful fast-pace drama unfolds.
Playwight Jaclyn Backhaus' exacting research is evident. Much of her play is based on Powell's 1869 journals and subsequent book, The Exoloration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons. She captures both the picturesque territories traversed, as well as the human moments between the crew. Backhaus' witty dialogue and humorous touches lure you in, but never resort to being over-the-top or camp.
". . . off-the canyon-walls funny . . . " -- Variety.
"Men on Boats" is marvelously destabilizing both as history and theater. The stalwartness and selfishness of the adventurers -- their cockiness and cluelessness--become biting satire when sent up by women." -- New York Magazine.
" . . . you will surely want to spend time with the hearty title characters of "Men on Boats" . . . [a] rollicking history pageant . . . "Men on Boats" makes canny use of the obvious distance between performers and their roles to help bridge the distance between then and now . . . The tone is comic, but never cute or camp. And ultimately, you feel the play respects its bold if fallible pioneers, in all their natural bravery and fearfulness." -- The New York Times.