‘Men on Boats’

No men? No boats? No problem! The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre steers into Women’s History Month with Jaclyn Backhaus’ adventurous and laughable “Men on Boats.” Directed by Sarah Shippobotham, the production runs March 1-10, 2019, in Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East.

“Men on Boats” is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane but loyal volunteers, set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. Through clever satire and contemporary style Backhaus recounts and retells history from a modern perspective. This is best illustrated by a note from the playwright on casting the play: “The characters in ‘Men on Boats’ were historically cisgender white males. The cast should be made up entirely of people who are not.”

The cast is made up of 10 women from the Musical Theatre and Actor Training programs, directed by the well-known dialect coach and theatre professor Shippobotham. The purposefully inclusive writing and casting empowers and normalizes women to shine in roles they’re not normally able to inhabit. “It provides a cutting insight into whose stories are normally told, and the glaring omission of stories we have not heard,” Backhaus explains. The dynamic production spins historical, theatrical and gender conventions on their heads, this subversive tale of 10 men, four boats, and two rivers contains none of the above.

“Men on Boats” is a lively and exciting heroic tale that exposes new perspectives on how historic events are interpreted. It’s an amusing adventure performed by a diverse cast of women who infuse America’s historic myths of male conquest with a sly blast of subtext. Audiences will be swept by the characters as they easily pull us into their journeys, both the journey down the river, and the larger journey they as women are leading.

“Men on Boats” at a glance:

Dates and Times: Previews Feb. 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. Show runs March 1-3 and 7-9 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on March 9 and 10 at 2 p.m.

Post-Performance Discussions: Mar. 8 immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance.

Location: Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East. Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theatre, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or on Presidents Circle.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.