news-category: Campus News

Gardner-Webb Theatre Presents Men on Boats

Men on Boats poster

Play with All-Female Cast Presents Different Take on 1869 Expedition

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men on Boats features an all-female cast portraying the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition. Presented by the Gardner-Webb University Department of Theatre Arts, the play is directed by Dr. Chris Nelson. The story follows a crew of volunteers, led by a one-armed captain, as they set out on the Colorado River.

Nelson said the department chose Men on Boats because it breaks ground that hasn’t been covered while also being female-heavy in its casting. “The play is about an expedition of men to the western United States after the Civil War, but is written so that they must all be played by non-traditional people other than those who would normally play these roles,” he informed.

The production includes a lot of first-time actors, and one of the challenges has been to convey playwright Jaclyn Backhaus’ underlying purpose for writing the play. “There’s a lot of subtext to the play that we hope to get across,” Nelson shared.

Featured in the play are:

  • Faith Augustine
  • Emily Brinton
  • Demmie Johnson
  • Ari Polburn
  • Chantal Martin-James
  • Mia Cotty
  • Dakota Davis
  • Janelle Dupont
  • Katrina Shauf
  • Faith Peavey

The play will be presented on April 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m., April 10 at 2:30 p.m., and again on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Millennium Playhouse, 141 S. Main St. Tickets are free for GWU students, faculty and staff; $10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors; and free for children under 12.  

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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