Auditions for "Men On Boats" by Jaclyn Backhaus

Directed by Diane Bulan

Bell Road Barn Players will be holding open auditions for our Spring 2020 play “Men On Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus.

Adventure, bravery and humorous absurdity…led by an all-female cast, Men on Boats is the true-ish story of John Wesley Powell’s expedition of the Colorado River in 1869.  Guided by a one-armed captain, the outlandish but loyal crew encounters various disasters, conflicts and harrowing adventures along the way.  Spinning historical, theatrical, and gender conventions on their heads, this subversive tale of ten men, four boats, and two rivers contains none of the above.

Audition Info

Auditions will take place at the David Theatre,  in Alumni Hall on the campus of Park University             8700 NW River Park Dr.  Parkville, MO 64152

Sunday January 5th from 2:30-5:00 pm

Monday January 6th from 7:00 – 9:30 pm

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. 

A a one-minute comedic piece is encouraged: tell a joke, a story in mime, an interpretive dance, whatever.   Headshots and resumes are also encouraged but not required.

Roles are available for 10 female, female-identifying, trans-identifying, gender-fluid, and/or gender-nonconforming actors.


Per the playwright: “while the characters in MEN ON BOATS were historically cisgender white males, the cast should be made up entirely of people who are not.”

PERFORMANCE DATES: March 13th - 15th  & 20th – 22nd  

Rehearsal will begin the first week of February and run Sundays – Thursdays.  Please come with any potential conflict dates during the months of February & March.

For specific quesitons please email 

Men On Boats requires physical movement during the boating scenes. General physical fitness and ability to bend, squat, go down on knees, lift objects, get up and down from the floor, etc. are important.

Character Descriptions

JOHN WESLEY POWELL (20-40) The Leader of the expedition. A one-armed crazy-face with a fiery temper and an excitable soul. Powell hates suits and loves adventure.


WILLIAM DUNN  (20-40) A hunter. A trapper. An innovator. Dunn wears beaver skin always.


JOHN COLTON SUMNER (20-40) Widely known to be the Bear Grylls of the 1860’s. Sumner went snowshoeing through the Rocky Mountains in winter because “no one had done it yet.” Obviously, he survived.


OLD SHADY(30-50) Powell’s older brother and the oldest crew member on the mission. He does not like people.  Must be able to sing old-timey songs


BRADLEY (16-30) The youngest member of the expedition. Genuinely loves people.


O.G. HOWLAND (20-40) must be POC (person of color). Doubles with Tsauwia  

Doesn’t have any friends. Tobacco addled. Is the older brother of…


SENECA HOWLAND (20-40) must be POC (person of color). Doubles with The Bishop

Is not OG’s twin. Also a smoker. These brothers are pretty calm.


FRANK GOODMAN(20-40) A red-faced British man quite thrilled to be in the American West, though he is made more for the howling gales and the lost winds than for the sun and heat.  Must have British accent. Doubles with Mr. Asa


HALL (30-50) Makes the maps. Packs light. Doesn’t have time for this.


HAWKINS (any age) Can make eggs in all styles. Does the inventory. Has his theories.


TSAUWIAT (any age) Chief of the Utes. Composed and wry in sharp contrast to the explorers.


THE BISHOP Wife of the chief and equally contrasting to the explorers. Her opinion hangs in the air, potent.


MR. ASA   A strange man in a nifty hat. He is perhaps an angel of comfort, or a fever dream. After all, isn’t this story all because of him?