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MEN ON BOATS by Jaclyn Backhaus Comes to Third Rail In March

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Race down the rapids in this wildly, wonderful gender-bending escapade. Based (broadly) on the true adventures of the one-armed pioneering explorer John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew, this gleefully subversive play capsizes the white male conquest narrative and discovers the beautifully fluid depth and courage of a wholly different landscape.

Jaclyn Backhaus is a playwright of Punjabi, German, and botanical descent. Recent New York productions include MEN ON BOATS (NYT Critics' Pick, Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks, The Kilroys' 2015 List), PEOPLE DOING MATH LIVE! (Under The Radar Festival's INCOMING! Series), THE INCREDIBLE FOX SISTERS (Live Source, The New Ohio). As Founding Resident Playwright for TRE: YOU ON THE MOORS NOW (HERE Arts Center), SET IN THE LIVING ROOM OF A SMALL TOWN AMERICAN PLAY (Walker Space), and THREE SEAGULLS, OR MASHAMASHAMASHA! (HERE Arts Center). She is the recipient of the Jody Falco and Jeffrey Steinman Commission for Emerging Playwrights from Playwrights Horizons & an Ars Nova commission for BULL'S HOLLOW with composer Mike Brun & director Andrew Neisler. She is co-founder/creative director of Fresh Ground Pepper, an incubator for new work established in 2009. Her work has been seen at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Playwrights Horizons, The Ice Factory Festival, (not just) 3 New Plays, Joe's Pub, The Civilians R&D Group, SPACE on Ryder Farm, & Ars Nova's ANTFest. Jaclyn is the 2016 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence at Clubbed Thumb. She lives in Ridgewood, Queens with her husband, theater director Andrew Scoville.

- At a time when white, male conquest narratives seem to be popping up on stages everywhere, Men on Boats capsizes those narratives by giving the reins to ten extraordinary actors of other races, genders, and orientations to inhabit the roles of John Wesley Powell and his intrepid crew. This piece will play concurrently with Portland Center Stage's retelling of the Astor expeditions and provides an interesting counterpoint within the local community.

-This production underlines Third Rail's ongoing commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by featuring an all-female identifying, multi-ethnic, non-binary cast in a play by a female playwright, guided by a female director, and crafted by a nearly all-female design team. Giving these underrepresented voices the opportunity to re-envision a major chapter in American history helps our community interrogate the narratives we are told about this country's expansion, while never sacrificing the playful, fun, and adventurous spirit of Jaclyn Backhaus' drama.

-In fact, actor Amber Whitehall is currently pregnant and will be showing during the run. Third Rail looks forward to seeing how this might reframe the audience's expectations of heroism and bravery as it relates to gender.

-A ten person cast is enormous for Third Rail! In many ways, Men on Boats will be the most physically dynamic and ambitious productions in Third Rail's 14 year history. It is sure to continue the company's tradition of exploring creative ways to utilize the Imago Theatre space to its fullest.

-Powell and his crew undertook the expedition in four modified Whitehall rowboats-the Maid of the Canyon, the Kitty Clyde's Sister, the No Name and the Emma Dean. In order to gain a better understanding of these vessels and the wonderful world of wooden watercraft, Third Rail is thrilled to partner with Wind & Oar Boat School! Wind & Oar Boat School is an Oregon nonprofit founded in 2011. Their mission is to engage young people and inspire learning through the art, science, and craft of building wooden boats, based on the STEAM educational approach. The production team will continue collaborating with the good folks at Wind & Oar over the next month on a variety of projects, including cross-promotional social media marketing campaigns and fundraising efforts to benefit the students of George Middle School, one of several groups to have completed multiple courses of Wind & Oar's program.

Cast: Stephanie Gaslin*, Kerry Ryan*, Gwendolyn Duffy, Amy Driesler, Jessica Hillenbrand, Jennifer Lanier, Anya Pearson, Shalanda Sims, Josie Seid, and Amber Whitehall.

Dates: Mar 2 - Mar 24, 2018, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2pm.

Location: Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave, Portland, OR 97214 [Editors, please note venue for this Third Rail production.]

Tickets Available: By phone at 503-235-1101 or online at

Prices: Single tickets $25 - $45 (plus online service fees). Admission included for Third Rail Members (monthly fee of $30.75).

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