NOTE FROM THE ARTISTIC & PRODUCING DIRECTORS
Welcome to Tantrum Theater’s production of Men on Boats by Jacklyn Backhaus.
When we scheduled this production, we hoped to be past the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet, but we still felt it vital to present this story to you with actors on an actual stage! Whether you are reading this in the theater with empty seats maintained for the actors’ and audience safety or online where you will experience our new in-house camera streaming experience to increase accessibility, we know you will enjoy this modern take based on John Wesley Powell’s journals of the exploration of the Colorado River in 1869.
Men on Boats began two years ago as a proposal for a School of Theater student led production by Roberto Di Donato, who is serving this season as Tantrum’s Assistant Artistic Director. We loved the play at the time and found the perfect place for it to begin Tantrum’s sixth season. With its themes commenting on the colonial “discovery” of this continent by white European men, we are excited to welcome a director who uses “an intercultural lens [and] traditional movement & contemporary issues to explore societal inequities and raise awareness” in Shannon R. Davis.* It is through the preparation of this production that we better understand the meaning of the occupation of land upon which Ohio University rests, the traditional homeland of the Shawnee and Wahzhazhe (also known as the Osage).
Shannon is supported by a creative team of Tantrum professional guest artists (*) and students: Emmy Weldon*, a 2015 MFA alumna from Chicago designing scenery, Kayla Higbee*, a 2021 MFA alumna, designing costumes, SooA Kim*, from New York City, designing projections, Abigail Coppock a third-year MFA candidate, designing sound, and Michael Lincoln*, Professor Emeritus, designing lighting. Rounding out the Tantrum guest artists for the Men on Boats team are Actors’ Equity stage manager Molly Norris* from the Philadelphia area, and actors Jessica Ranville* and Shayna Jackson* both coming to us from New York City. Joining all of these artists are the student actors you’ll see onstage and the many students behind the scenes.
In other news, Tantrum is again facilitating a collaboration this fall between the Nest Theatre of Columbus and Athens’ own Passion Works Studio. We will soon be able to announce a commissioned play written by Jacqueline Lawton about the Barry Hotel of Athens, a collaborative effort between Tantrum and the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society. In the spring we will offer a reading of that play in preparation for a full production to follow. We are thrilled that we received our first National Endowment for the Arts grant funding to launch this project.
And don’t forget that our COVID postponed production of Ohio University alumnus Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, will end our season this spring!
Even through the pandemic Tantrum’s educational outreach continues to grow and engage students of all ages in the region with workshops and school visits. Check the Tantrum Theater website for upcoming offerings.
The pandemic has been an extreme test for all arts, but we are learning and growing in strength and willpower to bring you the best possible theater. We look forward to developing our new partnerships in the Athens region and continuing opportunities for conversation, collaboration, and inspiration.
Thank you for joining us!