University Theatre presents Fresno premiere of ‘Men on Boats,’ a reinvented slice of American history

On a blue/grey background, abstracts of orange people stare in different directions above an abstract coral river and maroon wooden boat.

Fresno State’s University Theatre will present the Fresno premiere of “Men on Boats” by Jaclyn Backhaus. Theatre and Dance professor Dr. Gina Sandí-Díaz directs the production.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 24 – 25 and March 28 – April 1, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at the Dennis and Cheryl Woods Theatre in the Speech Arts Building on campus. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for Fresno State faculty, staff, alumni and military and $10 for all students. Children under five are not permitted.

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. “Men on Boats” is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition where a one-armed captain and an insane yet loyal crew set out to chart the course of the Colorado River. Inspired by John Wesley Powell’s actual travel logs, Backhaus’s nimble and ingenious script is provocative, laugh-out-loud theatre, performed by a racially diverse, female-identifying, gender fluid or non-gender conforming cast who infuse America’s historic myths of male conquest with a sly blast of satire.

“In 1869, John Wesley Powell and nine other white men embarked on a government-sponsored expedition through the Green and Colorado Rivers and into the Grand Canyon,” said Sandí-Díaz. “Inspired by Powell’s published journals on the adventure, Backhaus wrote ’Men on Boats,’ but her version of the official story questions the ways in which our culture documents history. With keen sensitivity, Backhaus examines power, gender and other social constructs in this hilarious comedy performed by a cast of racially diverse, female-identifying, gender fluid or non-gender conforming actors.”

The production features Stephanie Axsom, Emily King, Ethan Magill, Paulina Marin, Jizzel Nunez, Austin Osuna, Sabrina Ramirez, Samantha Ramos, Molly Smith, and Jazmin Valdez.

Fresno State no longer requires masks to be worn indoors, but based on updated guidance from public health experts, the University highly recommends that all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of vaccination status, wear a surgical grade or KN95 mask indoors. The box office is open from noon to 4 p.m. on weekdays and one hour before each performance and accepts cash, check, or credit card payments. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain. Latecomers will not be permitted, and there are no refunds or exchanges.

Parking is free for shows on Friday through Sunday night. For shows on Tuesday through Thursday night, parking permits are required and can be purchased at dispensers in parking lots on campus.
For more information, contact the box office at 559.278.2216 or

Posted by

Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities Communication Specialist

One thought on “University Theatre presents Fresno premiere of ‘Men on Boats,’ a reinvented slice of American history

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.