ALBANY — For six performances beginning Friday night, September 14, at 8 pm running through Sunday afternoon, September 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm, Sand Lake Center for the Arts will host the inaugural production of Acting Class with Patrick White’s students in the Regional Premiere of Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus. The production will be directed by Patrick White and feature twelve of his students. Tickets are $15 and are available thru SLCA’s website www.slca-ctp.org or by calling 518-674-2007.
Men on Boats is the critically acclaimed (New York Times Critic’s Pick, 2017 Outer Critic’s Circle Award nominee) adventure about the 1869 exploration and charting of the Colorado River by the one-armed Civil War major, John Wesley Powell, and his insane but loyal crew written to be played by a cast of women. “The characters of Men on Boats were historically cisgender white males. The cast should be made up entirely of people who are not” reads the playwright’s instructions on casting in the acting edition of the script. The Powell expedition faced unknown waters, dangers and deprivations and struggled together to traverse the Big Canyon and make it safely down the river and through the Canyon in the face of rapids, capsizing, near-mutinies, rattlesnakes and rapidly depleting supplies. As Major Powell wrote in his journal The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons from which the play is based on “We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah well! We may conjecture many things.” The play is an epic adventure of courage in taking on a momentous journey that had never been attempted before against great odds to benefit unseen generations to come.
Men on Boats is the first fully staged production by Acting Class with Patrick White. The class frequently stages scene and song showcase nights at the Albany Barn to present students work free to the public but Patrick White felt that there needed to be more theater opportunities for women in the Capital Region and he’s always wanted to produce plays of his choosing. Men on Boats fits his criteria, looking for plays that hit their audiences on a civic, spiritual and emotional level.
Although the area is dominated by women in positions of power running theaters and they far outnumber the number of men participating in the theater as auditioners, students, backstage and even as audience members the number of roles offered to women is always lagging far behind the men. Patrick says “I was directing a production of a popular play at a local theater recently and the play called for 5 men and 2 women and I got a pretty good turnout of 30 actors showing up to audition. 10 men and 20 women. So, if you were a man your chances of getting cast were 50/50 and if you were a woman, it was 1 in 10. I know all my students knew this and I’m late to the game but I had never seen an example presented so starkly before of the need to offer more opportunities for women in the Capital Region. I saw the Clubbed Thumb production of Men on Boats at Playwright’s Horizons and thought it was hysterical while offering a galvanizing piece of physical theater of a story I had never heard before.”
The play will be held at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts (2880 NY Route 43 Averill Park, NY 12018) on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm from Friday, September 14- Sunday, September 23. Tickets are $15. and can be purchased on Sand Lake Center for the Arts website www.slca-ctp.org or by calling the Center at 518-674-2007.