• Kelli Shermeyer

Men on Boats

I recently had the pleasure of producting Jaclyn Backhaus' riotous MEN ON BOATS for Live Arts, directed by Jeremy Duncan Pape. Though the run was cut short due to covid-19, we are immensely proud of this production (and of all the teen apprentices who did such a wonderful job co-designing this show!)


Below I've provided my program note and some of amazing shots from the production--such an amazing painted set, directed by artist tech director extraordinare, Annie Temmick.


"A Note from the Producer

On a recent pilgrimage to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I found myself in the American Wing confronted with Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of George Washington’s 1776 attack on Trenton, “Washington Crossing the Delaware” (1851). Though it technically depicts a major event in American history, Leutze’s painting also represents an American cultural myth of bravery (or bravado) in the face of wrathful nature: a dignified General Washington stands perfectly balanced toward the prow of his boat; two of his soldiers hoist the American Flag upward; other soldiers navigate around dangerous chunks of ice. Yet while taking in the painting’s enormity (a whopping 12 ft. 5 in. x 21 ft. 3 in), there was one thought I could not banish:

There’s a lot of men on that very small boat.

Twelve of them to be exact. If you took Washington out of the painting, you’d just have a bunch of guys struggling to row across a dangerous river. Leuzte’s painting was finished six years after journalist John O’Sullivan coined the term “Manifest Destiny:” a policy of continental colonization that long determined America’s program of exploration, largely at the expense of Native guardians of the land. Looking closely at Leutze’s painting quietly reveals a figure wearing Native moccasins and a shoulder pouch, as well as a Black soldier rowing at the prow of the boat. The faces of both figures are partially obscured, but their presence is unmistakable—they cannot be written out of even this performative myth of American history.

Though performative in its own way, Men on Boats distances us from the image of the victorious conqueror who faces off against both Man and Nature to claim what is his; instead it draws us toward the mundane practicalities of exploration by river and the bonds that develop there. It provides a picture of male intimacy for a culture that still glorifies a rugged, individualistic, stoic masculinity.

It’s been a true pleasure to produce Men on Boats, this season’s Mentor/Apprentice show. Everything you see tonight results from the collaboration of a creative team of designers and their apprentices. Here at the theater, we know—as does Powell and his crew—that nothing great is ever accomplished alone. Thank you for being here.

With Gratitude,


Kelli Shermeyer"












All pictures on this page by Martyn Kyle, Pernmoot photography.

Lighting by Heather Hutton (and fabulous apprentices!)

Set directed by Annie Temmick

Costumes by Amy Goffman (and fabulous apprentices!)

Recent Posts

See All

Digital Skriker

In this post I share my slides and notes from my recent Scholars’ Lab talk on my Digital Skriker project. This presentation discussed the performance possibilities, theoretical cruxes, and technical d

Up Next...

[Performance X]

devised by Kelli Shermeyer & Megan Hillary, with company members

* in development, performance postponed due to COVID-19

funded in part by the Mellon Global South Lab in Performance Cultures & Embodied Creative Practices

Sweat

by Lynn Nottage

 

Live Arts Theater

*postponed due to COVID-19

directed by Adrienne Oliver

dramaturgy by Kelli Shermeyer

Hi. I'm Kelli.

Leave a note, a question, a thought, a dream

© 2023 by  Designs by Thomas Rider. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon