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VCUarts Theatre Mainstage Season

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

The department is thrilled to get back into the theatre! As always, the safety of our students and community is top priority, and we will be following any current CDC / VCU safety protocols. Follow us on social media for up to date information on tickets and more!


actors in costume with graphic of men on boats

November 11-14, 2021

Men on Boats

By Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Sharon Ott

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men On Boats is the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River— reimagined with gender-expansive, racially diverse casting.

Performances November 11th – 14th.
Thursday 11/11 @ 8:00pm
Friday 11/12 @ 8:00pm
Saturday 11/13 @ 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sunday 11/14 @ 2:00pm & 8:00pm

Off the canyon walls funny” – Variety

You will surely want to spend time with the hearty title characters of MEN ON BOATS…The tone is comic, but never cute or camp. And ultimately, you feel the play respects its bold if fallible pioneers, in all their natural bravery and foolishness.” -New York Times

This production marks the department’s return to Raymond Hodges Theatre since the pandemic closed theatres worldwide in spring of 2020— our first in-person production with a live audience inside the Singleton Center in almost two years!


Men on Boats is a meticulously researched play that aims to be only “accurate-ish.” Men on Boats is based on the published diary of John Wesley Powell who was hired by the United States Government to map the unexplored West. The story follows a band of ten men piled into four boats as they journey down the Green and Colorado rivers, during a period of American expansion that was justified through the widely held cultural belief in “Manifest Destiny.” While Backhaus’ script remains faithful to the narrative of Powell’s writings, there are two notable changes for the purposes of storytelling—the use of a modern speech and the casting.   

Men on Boats employs an identity-conscious casting model which creates a unique critique of the ways our histories have failed to capture the full story. In spite of the title, the playwright’s directions are clear— “the characters in Men on Boats were historically cisgender white males. The cast should be made up of people who are not. I’m talking about a racially diverse actors who are female-identifying, trans-identifying, genderfluid, and/or non-gender-conforming.” Such casting allows Men on Boats to utilize the power of camp, comedy, and dramatic reimagining to offer an insightful dialogue on the intersections of race, class, gender, and indignity as they relate to our understanding of America’s difficult history.  


Performances will take place in the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts located at 922 Park Ave.

Masks will be required for all audience members. No food or drink allowed.

MEN ON BOATS has a run time of about ninety minutes with no intermission and contains simulated gun shots.

Parking: There is a paid parking deck located at Harrison and Broad. You can also use public street parking which follows Richmond City regulations.

Upcoming productions in the 2021-22 Mainstage Season:


Dates TBD Fall 2021


Directed by Elizabeth Byland

Featuring VCU Improv teams Running AMok; Toxic Shock; Black, Brown, and Honey; and Wait Did They Just Kiss? The Second National Virtual College Improv Festival will stream in Fall 2022, and we’ll also host Nights of Improv LIVE AND IN-PERSON in Hodges Theatre!

February 2022

Intimate Apparel

By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates

Set in New York City in 1905, INTIMATE APPAREL is a heart-wrenching story about desire, touch and what it means to be loved. Nottage tells the story of Esther, a lonely, single African-American woman who makes her living sewing beautiful corsets and ladies’ undergarments for women from all walks of life. With the dream of opening up her own beauty parlor for Black women, Esther begins to long for a partner, someone to make her life feel complete. But when an egregious deception cuts short heartfelt desires, can class, culture and circumstance outmatch the strength of human spirit? Inspired by a true story, Intimate Apparel is a powerful contemporary work in the style of an enduring classic—from the first female playwright to win two Pulitzers.

three people in costumes

Spring 2022


By Lisa Wolpe
Directed by Mary Hodges

This is Lisa Wolpe’s celebrated adaptation of Macbeth with a four character cast! The director—Mary Hodges—is not only a VCUarts Theatre Alum, she starred in the premiere (that’s Mary on the far right and Lisa on the left in the photo above)! Wolpe specializes in adapting Shakespeare with a keen eye on gender, race, and sociopolitical power.  She is a pioneer in non-traditional casting, and has directed dozens of gender-bent adaptations of classical plays. 

This production will travel to area high schools and host performances on the VCU campus.

April 2022

Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach

Book by Timothy Allen McDonald
Music and Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Directed by Wes Seals

Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale of a boy, his insect friends and their amazing journey across the ocean on a giant piece of fruit—now a musical for the whole family to enjoy! Featuring a wickedly tuneful score by the Tony-Award nominated team of Pasek and Paul.

Keep an eye on our website and social media for ticket announcements!

If you have questions regarding mainstage productions, please reach out to Sarah Moore at