This is the tale of ten men, four boats, and two great rivers, told on stage entirely without boats, rivers… or men! Pack your gear for this twenty-first century telling of nineteenth-century American explorer and one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, who assembles a brawny band of soldiers, trappers, and adventurers to explore the waterways of the American West.
The projection design of this production served largely to expand and dynamically influence the scenic environment that our characters were continually exploring. In such an intimate space like the Lab at the Clarence Brown Theatre, its often challenging to depict ever-changing and expansive locations. Such is the case with Men on Boats. Projection surfaces downstage of the proscenium and on the farthest upstage wall, however, allowed for the addition of the needed expanse and depth to the scenic design. It allowed the environment to surround the audience, filling their entire field of vision, as they journeyed through the canyons and rivers with our characters. Days turned into night, water rushed and crashed, canyon walls grew, and 'men' were on 'boats'.
Large inspiration for the art style was drawn from the vast library of awe-inspiring canyon oil paintings from the likes of Thomas Moran and Cody DeLong. Each location depicted in the production was digitally crafted and painted from images of the real locations detailed in Major Powell's journals from the expedition. With use of projections, the scenic elements gained an enveloping and dramatic feel, almost as if the surfaces had been physically painted again and again for each scene.
Below is a promotional video created for the production that displays the use of projections during several moments of the show.
March 16 - April 2, 2023
Clarence Brown Lab Theatre
Director: Ashlee Latimer
Scenic Design: Sophie Smrcka
Lighting Design: Kaylin Gess
Sound Design: Allison Bucher
Costume Design: Kaelyn Williams
Projection Design: Lucas Swinehart
"Kudos go to this production for its beautifully immersive visual environment created by Latimer’s creative team... Giving specific hints to the details and locations in the play are Lucas Swinehart’s magnificent kinetic projections that run the gamut from the static impressionism of rock walls to raging waterfalls."