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Auditions for Men on Boats

Monday, March 25, 2024
6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Mill Theatre

Contact Information
Janice Pohl


By Jacklyn Backhaus

Audition Information:

March 25 6 p.m. at the Mill Theatre – Open to students of all majors.

This note about the casting is written by Jacklyn Backhaus. You see where you fit:

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. It is my strong preference that Tsauwiat and The Bishop (so thusly O.G. and Seneca Howland) be played by Native cast members. If there are no Native actors in your production, the Howlands/Utes must at least be cast as non-white.

Please Prepare:

  • Prepare a male-presenting monologue from a 20th century play. Expect to read sides from the play.

Audition Form:

  • Email for the link to the google form.
  • Paper forms will be available for walk-in sign-ups on the day of auditions.


  • Thursday – Sunday April 18 – 21 @ 7 p.m.
  • Thursday – Friday April 25 – 26 @ 7 p.m.
  • Saturday April 27 @ 2 p.m.


  • March 26- April 19
  • Monday – Friday 6:30 – 10 p.m. (Option to move Good Friday eve. Rehearsal to afternoon)
  • TECH WEEKEND SCHEDULE Saturday 12 April 12 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 13 April 13 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.


Imagine a play focused on the expeditions wrapped up in the mapping and “discovery” of the Colorado River. Imagining a bunch of white dudes? Playwright Jacklyn Backhaus challenges us to see those people and explorer-claimed discoveries through the performance lens of a cast of actors who AREN’T cisgender white males. Also included? River rapids, on boats.

Insights from / information about other productions:


Elmhurst University Theatre is committed to inclusion for all students within our community, and in keeping with the mission of the University invites students of all ethnicities, genders and gender expressions, and students with disabilities, to audition, work, and participate in our programs.
We recognize that much of theatre literature has written characters in a binary manner, using he/him and she/her pronouns; we invite gender non-conforming, genderqueer, transgender, and non-binary actors to audition for roles they most identify with. AND THIS PLAY CHALLENGES THE NORM!
Character descriptions are listed below. Know that the collaborative creative team seeks to cast expansively with intention and consideration of race/ethnicity, gender and gender expression, body type, and ability.

(Inclusion statement developed with language borrowed from and adapted by Kavin Kantor and Emily Tarquin)

Please note that the rehearsal schedule will be very tight:

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John Wesley Powell:
• One-armed leader of the expedition. This character identifies as male.

William Dunn:
• Hunter and trapper. This character identifies as male.

John Colton Sumner:
• Former soldier, current explorer This character identifies as male.

Old Shady:
• Powell’s older brother; Civil War Vet. This character identifies as male.

• Lieutenant, excessive youthful exuberance. This character identifies as male.

O. G. Howland:
• Printer and hunter. This character identifies as male.

Seneca Howland:
• O.G.’s younger brother. This character identifies as male.

Frank Goodman:
• British, so excited. This character identifies as male.

• Old soul, map maker. This character identifies as male.

• The Cook. Don’t mess with the cook. This character identifies as male.

• Ute chief; disguised as Mr. Johnson. (Looks remarkably like O.G. Howland). This character identifies as male.

The Bishop:
• Wife to Tsauwiat; disguised as Just Jim. (Looks remarkably like Seneca Howland). This character identifies as female; disguised as a man.

Mr. Asa:
• A desert settler. (Looks remarkably like Frank Goodman). This character identifies as male.

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