World Debut of the Boatwright at GR Civic Theatre

Bo Wilson and Todd Chance

Playwright Bo Wilson says he likes it here in Grand Rapids. Visiting the city from his home in Richmond, Virginia to watch his play debut on stage, he says he wants you to walk away from The Boatwright with the feeling that you like the characters, Jaime Watson and Ben Calloway. You’ll also walk away knowing that you were the first audience to see this world premiere.

During a candid Q&A at an Inside Dish event at Civic Theatre, Wilson informed the group, “I call this is a father-son play, even though they’re not related.” The interaction between the two men, who are decades in age apart, will evoke wonder, compassion and understanding. Wilson confesses there are some surprises and even a few laughs.

In describing the inspiration for his work, Wilson revealed, “When the question won’t leave me alone, that’s when I know I need to write.”

Jaime Watson and Ben Calloway in The Boatwright


Presented By
Grand Rapid Civic Theatre
September 12- 28, 2014
Drama: Written by Bo Wilson

ABOUT THE BOATWRIGHT: Ben Calloway can’t seem to get his bearings in his own home anymore. Fifty-seven years old, recently widowed, childless, and retired from the Kansas Highway Patrol, he’s adrift… and even though he’s never seen the ocean, he decides he should build a boat and sail across the Atlantic, single-handed.

He doesn’t particularly want any part of his neighbor Jaime Watson’s problems. Jaime’s been suspended from film school and his father’s about lost patience with trying to fix the troubled young man. But when Ben decides to let Jaime make a movie about his boat-building project, the two men — generations apart and lonely in very different ways — force one another to confront the isolation in their own lives.

Whether Ben is crazy or courageous; whether Jaime is ill or merely lost; whether any of us can ever help one another find home– in seeking answers to these questions, Jaime and Ben also seek truths about themselves. When you think you’re on your own in uncharted waters, encountering another soul might be scary, it might be a relief, and it might be painful… but you know for sure you’re not alone anymore.

BO WILSON (playwright) makes his home in Richmond, Virginia, where he works as a professional playwright. He has won a variety of national awards and fellowships from theatre companies and universities all over the country. Among those plays which have received professional productions in various cities across the country are War Story, Manly Men, A Wireless Christmas, Boy-Girl-Boy-Girl, Mister Dickens’ Carol and Listen Close. Plays commissioned for young audiences include Arthur and Merlin, The George Washington Carver Story and The Emperor’s Nightingale. His short play “Outside the Box” was chosen winner of the 2005 Samuel French Short Play Festival and was published by French the following year.

Bo is also regularly commissioned by science and fine arts museums to create site-specific performance pieces, on subjects ranging from Patrick Henry to Black Holes. (His personal favorite is an Abbott-and-Costello-style piece in which Bud tries to explain the number Pi to Lou.) He has also written several dozen award-winning training films for private industry and the United States government including DuPont, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

A graduate of Virginia Tech and of the National Theatre Institute, Bo is also a professional voice talent, with several hundred radio and television commercials to his credit.

ABOUT ACCT AND THE INAUGURAL AACT NEWPLAYFEST: The American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) is honored Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is a Producing Theatre in the inaugural AACT NewPlayFest. With this festival, AACT is addressing the critical

need for new, high-quality plays for community theatre audiences around the globe. Six theatres across the country were selected to produce the six winning scripts that were selected out of more than 200 submitted scripts.

Being selected as a winner of any playwriting contest is an accomplishment, but a few things set AACTNewPlayFest above other playwriting competitions. One aspect that makes the AACT playwriting competition unique is the guarantee that an established theatre will produce each play. Other competitions will offer a staged reading of the winning play, but that pales in comparison to having the play produced in full array for a live audience. Typically, new playwrights must work to find a theatre company willing to take a chance on a new, unpublished work.

Another facet that sets AACTNewPlayFest apart is the exciting news that Dramatic Publishing has agreed to print an anthology of the winning plays. They will also include the plays in their catalog and license the performance rights. Dramatic Publishing is one of the major licensers of plays and musicals in the United States and beyond. If a playwright is fortunate enough to find a theatre to produce their play, it does not guarantee publication, and the process of getting one’s play published can take years.

AACT provides networking, resources, and support for over 7,000 community theatres in the United States and its territories, as well as theatre companies with the U.S. Armed Services overseas.

The AACT NewPlayFest world premiere of The Boatwright is made possible in part by a grant from the Jack K. Ayre Theatre Fund.

INSIDE DISH behind the scenes and presentation with playwright Bo Wilson:

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