Men on Boats tells the fascinating story of John Wesley Powell’s expedition to the Grand Canyon… BUT with a twist. Historically, all members of Powell’s party were cisgender white males, in contrast, the cast of Men on Boats is entirely made up of people who are not. Going into this design I was excited to have the opportunity to work with a wonderfully diverse group of artists. I sought to honor the characters’ real history, while bringing attention to other stories that deserve to be told and folks whose perspectives deserve to be shared. Through conversations with the director and design team, we let one question guide us: Who would these individuals have been (or what would they have looked like) if they were women, nonbinary, POC, transgender, queer, etc… Throughout my design, I mixed traditionally feminine and masculine silhouettes and fabrics. A clear example of this can be seen with the use of growth tucks, a detail primarily seen on women’s skirts during the 19th century, to shorten the sleeves on men’s shirts. I also made the choice to construct Goodman’s outfit, the most traditionally feminine silhouette, out of a waxed cotton which reads as strong, durable, and made to outlast the journey. Ultimately, my goal is to tell an alternate version of Powell’s story, a more modern one and one in which diversity is celebrated.
Kaelyn Williams (Costume Designer) Kaelyn is a first year graduate student in Costume Design and this is her first show with the Clarence Brown Lab Theatre. She really enjoyed the design challenges this production offered, and loved working with the amazing cast, crew and production team to help bring this story to life. She hopes you enjoy the show.
Costume Renderings by Kaelyn Williams © 2023