Despite Its Name, The Play ‘Men On Boats’ Will Have No Men On Stage (Or On Boats)

Listen Now
Photo: The Catamounts Men On Boats Play
The all-female cast of "Men on Boats," put on by the Boulder theater company The Catamounts.

As playwright Jaclyn Backhaus was working on her play inspired by the explorer John Wesley Powell's 1869 expedition along the Colorado River, she realized something. She really, really wanted to play Powell.

So, she decided to make it that way.

When "Men on Boats" makes its regional premiere Friday, Sept. 21 with the Boulder theater company The Catamounts, an all-female cast will take the stage and board the ship. While Powell and his crew were all male, in Backhaus' casting notes, she asks that the cast "be made up entirely of people who are not."

Director Amanda Berg Wilson talked to Colorado Matters about the impact the spin on gender has on "Men on Boats," and how theater doesn't have to be a perfectly accurate historical recreation.