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UCR Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production


Anyone and everyone are welcome to audition, especially white and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) nonbinary actors, white and BIPOC trans actors, white and BIPOC cis women, and BIPOC cis men.

MEN ON BOATS by Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Hannah Wolf

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men on Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River.

This play contains cursin’ and drinkin’. 

DECEMBER 3, 2021
Friday, 5:00-9:00pm
Studio Theatre (ARTS 113)

Callbacks: December 4, Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm

Meet the Director (Zoom): Hannah Wolf will be holding a “meet the director” session on Wednesday, December 1st from 6:30-7:30pm in Zoom. This is not required, but you are welcome to come say hello and ask questions about the show. If you want to attend the meet-and-greet please email Jordyn McEvoy, Stage Manager:, for the Zoom link.

Needed: 10 cast members

Actors should prepare:

  • A one-minute comedic monologue. All the characters in this play are cismen, you are highly encouraged to find monologues from the cis-male characters that you’ve always wanted to play. 

  • The director hopes to learn something about your vocal and physical instruments and how you take up space when playing someone you might not usually be cast as. 

  • The monologue does not have to be memorized. The director would rather see a strong, evocative performance with a script in hand than have you hesitating over memorization.

Tips for the audition:

  • Read the play before auditioning. A 24-hour online perusal copy of the script may be requested here.

  • Wear clothes you are comfortable and can move in. 

  • Being “too big” is preferable to “being real.” 

  • Type your script in a large, clear font to make it easy to reference during the audition.

  • If you get a callback, please come dressed in comfortable clothes and closed-toed shoes, ready to move. Be prepared to do a British accent at callbacks. 

How to audition:

  • You must sign-up in advance for a five-minute time slot here

  • Download and fill out the Audition Form here (in either PDF or Word format). Once this form has been filled out and you have signed up for a time slot, email your Audition Form and a headshot photo to Jordyn McEvoy, Stage Manager:

Please note:

  • Please review the cast schedule here before signing up to audition. 

  • Cast members will be enrolled in four units of TFDP 170 in the winter quarter.

Character information:

  • All roles are open to all ethnicities. 

  • Actors will not be required to cut their hair. 

  • Note from the playwright: “The characters in MEN ON BOATS were historically cisgender white males. The cast should be made up entirely of people who are not. I’m talking about racially diverse actors who are female identifying, trans-identifying, genderfluid and/or non-gender conforming.”

John Wesley Powell - one armed leader of the expedition. Ambitious, optimistic, ignorant. 

John Colton “Jack” Sumner - Former soldier, current explorer. Widely known to be the Bear Grylls of the 1860s. Sumner went snowshoeing through the Rocky Mountains in winter because “no one had done it yet.” Obviously, he survived.

William H Dunn - Hunter and trapper. Has more outdoor experience than most, but is often ignored. An innovator. Dunn wears beaver skin always.

Walter H Powell “Old Shady” - Powell’s older brother, Civil War vet, oldest crew member. Unclear if he was addled by the war, or if he’s always just been a little weird. He does not like people.

Oramel G Howland “O.G” - Printer and hunter. More experience than most here. (Doubles with Just Jim). 

Seneca Howland - OG’s quiet little brother. (Doubles with Johnson).

Frank Goodman - British, so excited and here for adventure! (Doubles with Mr. Asa).

WR Hawkins - The cook, but not great at it. 

Andrew Hall - mapmaker, old soul. 

Bradley - Lieutenant, manic with youth. Youngest member of the expedition. 

About the play:
In 1869, ten explorers set off to chart the Green and Colorado Rivers, under the guidance of John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War Veteran and personal friend of President Grant, a government-sanctioned journey following in the footsteps of the deserters, lone adventurers, and countless indigenous people who have previously braved the wild rapids leading through Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico, and through the most dangerous waterway of all: the Grand Canyon. Along the way they make friends, they get on each other’s nerves, they suffer loss of boat and supplies, they doubt, struggle, and name mountains after themselves, they posture and pretend, they quit while they’re ahead, and they repeatedly brave dangerous rapids to reach the other side. As boats capsize and supplies are lost, as belts tighten and nerves fray, the company draws together as a band of brothers, even as three members fear the outcome of the final waterfalls and make the fateful decision to leave before the end. In Men On Boats, Jacklyn Backhaus’ original, hilarious, and delightful adventure dramedy, the conquering men out to chronicle the land in service of America, God, and Manifest destiny, are given voice and movement by actors who are anything and everything but white and male, and the bravery, determination, foolishness, humanity, and true grit of the historical explorers is memorialized, while the historical moment of their journey is viewed with a critical lens.


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  • Jaden Harrison

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