The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University presents HORSEMANSHIP, a new musical-in-progress about being transgender and searching for the kind of person you want to be…and horses. The musical was conceived by Princeton Arts Fellow Will Davis and created by Will Davis and Truth Future Bachman. Performances will be on Friday, April 8 and Saturday, April 9 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 10 at 2:00 p.m. in the Wallace Theater at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. The event is free and open to the public, however advanced tickets are required through University Ticketing and can be reserved at tickets.princeton.edu. All guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the maximum extent, which now includes a COVID booster show for all those eligible to receive it. Additionally, all guests must wear a mask when indoors; performers may be unmasked when on stage. Guests in need of access accommodations are asked to contact the Lewis Center at LewisCenter@princeton.edu at least one week prior to the event date.
Will Davis is a trans-identified director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work for the stage. His off-Broadway credits include Road Show at Encores! Off-Center; India Pale Ale at Manhattan Theatre Club; Bobbie Clearly at Roundabout Underground; Charm at MCC Theater; Men on Boats at Clubbed Thumb and at Playwrights Horizons, which received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination; and Duat at Soho Rep. Davis’ regional theater credits include Spamtown, USA at Children’s Theatre Company; Everybody at Shakespeare Theatre Company; A Doll’s House, Part 2 at Long Wharf Theatre; The Carpenter at Alley Theatre; Colossal at Mixed Blood Theatre and at Olney Theatre Center, for which Davis received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director of a Play; Evita at Olney Theatre Center, which received a Helen Hayes Award nomination; and multiple productions for American Theater Company in Chicago, where Davis also served as artistic director. He is an alumnus of the Soho Rep. Writer/Director Lab, the New York Theatre Workshop 2050 Directing Fellowship, the Brooklyn Art Exchange’s Artist-in-Residence program, and he currently serves on the Theatre Communications Group board of directors.
Truth Future Bachman, who has created new music for HORSEMANSHIP, is a composer, vocalist, and writer of socially focused musicals who uses they/them/their pronouns. The New York Times has described them as “musically and vocally rich,” and Vulture has praised them for “golden-voiced…soulful vocals.” Bachman’s acclaimed musical collage of songs, Shapeshifters, about the LGBTQ+ community, was developed at an ongoing residency at Joe’s Pub, The Delacorte Theatre, Musical Theatre Factory, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, University of the Arts, and was the inaugural recipient of the Denovan Grant. Bachman published FARMED: A Live Podcast Album in 2020; it is a musical podcast concert, featuring interviews with grassroots leaders and a vocally percussive score for 25 voices. Their other original musicals include Chasing Fear at Cygnet Theatre; Detentionicide at the Future of Storytelling Festival; The Name Game at Prospect Theatre Co.; In Real Life: A Slenderman Musical, a Theatre for a New Audience reading; Pyre Cantata, at the HERE Arts Center; and Coromandel at Dixon Place and HERE. Bachman is an alum of New Dramatists Composer-Librettist Studio, Joe’s Pub Working Group, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and they received a 2021 Jerome Hill Fellowship award as a finalist in music. Their album Blue River features several Broadway talents and donates all its profits to arts education programs within New York City’s boroughs. Bachman was recently featured in Teen Vogue.
Davis describes HORSEMANSHIP as, “a work-in-progress concert of what will be a queer little musical about being transgender and horses.” Davis elaborates, explaining that this work is “an exploration of my experience transitioning and the way I mapped my aspirations for who I wanted to become as a man on the concept of a horse.” This autobiographical work is composed of monologues performed by Davis; songs sung by Davis, Bachman, and his chorus of horses comprised of Princeton University students; and dances based off the form of horse riding known as dressage, which Davis defines as a “system and style of horse movement that can sometimes look like a horse is performing a ballet.” When asked why he identified with a horse, and the metaphor of a horse for transitioning, Davis explained, “with the power of a horse, the musculature of a horse, the pride a horse takes in itself, I started thinking about testosterone as horsepower. And as I was moving through my transition process, I thought about horsepower changing my body and turning me into the exact kind of horse I would want to be.”
Davis is a 2020-22 Princeton Arts Fellow. The Arts Fellows program at the Lewis Center provides support for early-career artists who have demonstrated both extraordinary promise and a record of achievement in their fields with the opportunity to further their work while teaching within a liberal arts context. Funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the David E. Kelley ’79 Society of Fellows Fund, and the Maurice R. Greenberg Scholarship Fund, fellows are selected for a two-year residency to teach a course each semester or, in lieu of a course, to undertake an artistic assignment that deeply engages undergraduate students, such as directing a play, conducting a music ensemble, or choreographing a dance piece. In fall 2020 Davis co-taught the Princeton Atelier course, “Maximizing the Minimal: Composition and Performance from a Distance,” with projection designer and filmmaker Alex Basco Koch. Fellows are expected to be active members of the University’s intellectual and artistic community while in residence; in return, they are provided the resources and spaces necessary for their work.