Cover photo: Julie Marie Myatt

Boats on a River

Julie Marie Myatt
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Set in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Western aid workers run a shelter to rehabilitate sexually abused children. The challenges they face both with the girls' future and their own are confronted when they contend with what it means to “do good” in the midst of so much human adversity and trauma. With humor and compassion, they persevere where others fail to find success in a corrupt and complicated, but beautiful country.

Production Info

Cast: 10 total (5 female, 5 male, bit parts)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“BOATS ON A RIVER, a new play by Julie Marie Myatt, can be distinguished both by what it is and by what it is not. What it is, is a play by an American playwright that reaches beyond the borders of this country, to examine life in other parts of the world and to use that examination as a prism to reflect back on our own culture. In that regard, it is a singularly refreshing departure from the navel-gazing that occurs in much of American theater. What it is not, is melodramatic or pat or clichéd or shrill. And for a play that deals with the trafficking of young girls in the Cambodian sex trade, it deftly works in a quasi-journalistic fashion to tell its story palatably without diminishing or glossing over the horror of its subject matter. Myatt traveled to Cambodia to create a fictionalized story of an American who runs a center that pulls girls out of prostitution. Sidney Webb has clearly gotten too close to his job and, after 15 years at it, is on the verge of burnout. His condition isn’t helped when a headstrong American blows into town, raids a brothel and drops a trio of his “rescues” — three girls ages 13, 8 and 5 — into the already over-crowded center. Plus, Sidney is having difficulties with his wife, a Vietnamese woman scarred by her own past in the sex trade. The script ranges all over the place — attempting to climb into Sidney’s head, examining the circumstances and attitudes of the young girls, even giving an unflattering glimpse of an American tourist awash in his own sense of entitlement and willfully ignorant about life in Cambodia and his own small-but-damning contribution to the sex trade. Myatt calls for adult actresses to play the young prostitutes, an obviously necessary concession and one that allows audiences just enough distance to absorb her thematics without recoiling in revulsion … But Myatt also conjures a final stage image that hammers the play home with heart-stopping clarity … If it gets to our heart a bit too much through our head, BOATS ON A RIVER still has a certain poignant grace to it as a story of those struggling mightily to do the right thing against a vast, invisible and diabolical machine.” —Dominic P Papatola, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

About the Author


  • Julie Marie Myatt

    Julie Marie Myatt's play SOMEDAY premiered as part of Cornerstone Theater Company's Justice Cycle in June 2008. Her play WELCOME HOME, JENNY SUTTER recently premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and will tour to the Kennedy Center in July 2008. Her play BOATS ON A RIVER premiered at the Guthrie Theater in May 2007 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her play MY WANDERING BOY premiered at South Coast Rep and was featured in the 2007 Summer Play Festival in New York City. Her ten-minute play, MR AND MRS premiered at the 2007 Humana Festival. Her play THE SEX HABITS OF AMERICAN WOMEN was produced by the Guthrie Theater, Signature Theater in Arlington, VA, Synchronicity Performance Group, and premiered at the Magic Theater in San Francisco, and was recently published by Broadway Play Publishing Inc. She received a Walt Disney Studios Screenwriting Fellowship, a Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights' Center, and a McKnight Advancement Grant. Her other plays include ALICE IN THE BADLANDS, COWBIRD, 49 DAYS TO THE SUN, and THE PINK FACTOR (also published by BPPI). She is a member of New Dramatists.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 2/3/2020
Pages 94
ISBN 9780881458138

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Boats on a River is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC