By Hannah Chester
Faculty Mentor: Marc Williams
“Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men On Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River” (Playwrights Horizons). This year, I was cast as John Wesley Powell, the lead in Men On Boats, UMW Theatre’s first mainstage play of the Spring semester. I endeavored on creating a webpage constructed with all inspirational work, research, and rehearsal journals for my work in this role. Famously, John Wesley Powell was an avid journal keeper of his life and this specific expedition through charting the Grand Canyon, and I utilized his writings to support my work in bringing him to life in my own vision while also honoring him as a prominent explorer and historical figure. The main goal of this project was to challenge myself on the most effective, respectful, and introspective manner in which one can portray a historical figure while balancing the multifaceted nature of a human being (nobody is all good or all evil; so how do I portray that in an honest and informed manner that does justice to both the play and the person?).