“It’s sort of a proxy father-son story,” said writer Bo Wilson when talking about the relationship of the central characters in his play The Boatwright, which premieres at Firehouse Theater on February 4.
This will be the first time his production will premiere in Richmond. Previously, it had opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2014 after winning a prize from the American Association of Community Theaters.
Wilson’s play focuses on the interaction of two men who are generations apart and lonely in different ways. Ben, played by David Bridgewater, is an older retired state trooper who lost his wife to an illness and decides to build a boat and sail around the world. His next door neighbor Jamie, played by Tyler Stevens, has been suspended from film school and is seeking inspiration. He decides to create a documentary about Ben’s project as a pseudo father and son relationship develops.
The play is a collaboration reunion between its writer, director and one of the lead actors. Wilson, Bridgewater and Director, Gary Hopper worked together on one of Wilson’s first plays in 1988 called Manly Men. Hopper also trained Bridgewater as an actor during his time as a professor at VCU.
“Gary is a good friend and he has directed a couple of other pieces of mine over the years,” Wilson said.
Though writers usually do not have as much of a say in the casting process in community theaters, Wilson said that Hopper bounced ideas around with him.
“I think the world of David,” Wilson said. He had also seen Stevens in another play and approached him to audition for The Boatwright.
Hopper had asked Wilson to send him some of his work and after reading a copy of The Boatwright, he got to work on making it happen. After shopping it around to various theaters, Firehouse picked it up.
“I think of all his wonderful work, there’s something about this that resonates,” Hopper said of Wilson’s play.
General admittance to the play is $30, with discounts available for military personnel, students and RVATA cardholders. Night performances begin at 7:30pm and matinees are at 3pm. Tickets and more information can be found here.