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Harold C. Tedford Main Stage at Wake Forest University Theatre

Men on Boats

Written by Jacklyn Backhaus
Directed by Cindy Gendrich
Sound Design by Jeff Sherwood
Sound Cue Samples / Demo Reel
Sound Design & Sound Score Concept

Jacklyn Backhaus' Men on Boats provides an exciting opportunity for people to partake in adventures historically only afforded to cisgendered white men.  In a modern retelling of the Powell expedition to chart the Colorado and Green Rivers, we follow the Powell crew as they journey down river through the twists, turns, battles against the forces of nature, and the fight for survival even at the cost of abandoning the group.  Backhaus puts the ideas of privilege and colonialism in an almost parody.  

The sound score strives to send the audience on the emotional journey of the ensemble of characters and will feature contemporary orchestral music largely inspired by modern film scores and Appalachian music for the sense of adventure, the sweeping sounds of Aaron Copland for the beauty and wonder discovering the natural formations, and somber piano music for moments of loss, grief, and a desire to give up and leave the mission.  The sound score will also feature the sounds of nature, the rushing river, distant animal calls to give the appearance of an outdoor world from inside of a theatre.  The melodies of Old Shady's tunes were inspired by sea shanty research. 

Each of the river boating scenes featured full underscore music that heightened tension, especially in moments where boats capsized and crew were thrown overboard.  The physicality of the choreography paired with the music as attempted to display in the video above. 

© 2023 Jeff Sherwood. 

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