BWW Interview: Playwright Jared Michael Delaney and VOYAGER ONE at NJ Rep 6/20 to 7/21
New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) will present the world premiere of Voyager One by Jared Michael Delaney from June 20- July 21, 2019. Directed by Evan Bergman, the play stars Mare Akana, Joseph Carlson, and Daven Ralston.
In the far future, a discovery is made which upends everything humanity has been led to believe. Meanwhile, in the recent past, two researchers on the Voyager One Golden Record project find themselves on a journey across the universe where rock n' roll never dies and love lives on.
Broadwayworld had the opportunity to interview Jared Michael Delaney about his career and the upcoming show at NJ Rep.
Delaney's full productions include The Hand of Gaul, 2013 Inis Nua Theatre; Noli Timere (Don't Be Afraid) 2017 Theatre Conspiracy; Voyager One, New Jersey Repertory Company, 2019; They've All Gone & We'll Go Too, Jersey Fringe, 2019. Readings: Paint It Black, You Devil, Strange Sun Theatre, Best Medicine Rep; Child of Lions, HRC Showcase Theatre, "Honorable Mention" New Works of Merit; The Cannibal of Ajax, Best Medicine Rep., Vintage Theatre Comedy Festival; Voyager One, N.J. Rep., Khaos Theatre Co., 5th Wall Productions. His short plays include Fortune's Fool, Aberrant Theatre, NJ Rep's Theatre Brut (published, related anthology); Pontiff Blues; and The Shoes; RGDG?, FringeArts
Tell us a little about your earliest interest in writing?
Writing was always big in my house. My mother was a literature teacher and my father a psychologist. The house was full of books. And my brother and I probably had books in our hands before we had anything else. So the interest was always there, really. And I started scribbling things pretty young, I think. Little poems and things like that.
Did you have that ah-hah moment when you knew you'd be a playwright?
There wasn't really one moment. I was always interested in the theatre and have been acting since high school (I'm still a working actor today). But when I was first thinking of a writing career, I wanted to write for Rolling Stone and go on tour covering Pearl Jam and the Police and things like that. I worked as a journalist for a few years actually but it wasn't for me in the end. And I started working as an actor after grad school and found myself wanting to tell stories that I hadn't seen before. So that's how it started. It was a gradual process.
Who are some of the writers you like to read in your spare time and why?
I read a lot and all kinds of genres. For playwriting, my modern favorites are Conor McPherson and Jez Butterworth. I'm just in awe of the emotional depth of their storytelling while creating uniquely theatrical experiences. But they're just the first two that come to mind. There's dozens whose work I admire and enjoy. I read a lot of non-fiction and a lot of rock n' roll biographies. I've been in a deep, deep Bowie dive lately. I'm on my third biography of him, along with having finished two autobiographies related to him (one by his former drummer, one by his long-time producer). I also read comic books constantly. My favorite writers there are Jason Aaron, Brian Wood, Brian Vaughn. Few others. I also just started Herman Melville's second novel titled Omoo and it's wonderful.
What was the inspiration for Voyager One?
Voyager One was inspired by two articles I happened to read in close proximity to each other. The first was a news report that said that the Voyager One spacecraft, launched in 1977, had left our solar system and was the first man-made object in interstellar space. And that if it maintained its current course and nothing got in its way, it wouldn't even reach another star for 40,000 years. The second piece was by Chuck Klosterman (he's a favorite of mine). He wrote an essay asking this question: in 500 years, when humanity looks back at rock music, what is the one name that will be associated with it? (Like Shakespeare is with Elizabethan drama). He eventually came down on saying it would be Chuck Berry. Now, he listed a number of reasons but the one that struck me was that Berry's Johnny B. Goode was the ONLY rock n' roll song on the Golden Record aboard Voyager One and that the Record's estimated life span could be a billion years. The enormity of those two things really struck me and that's where the idea began.
Tell us a little bit about your experiences working with NJ Rep.
This is my fifth experience working with NJ Rep (3x as an actor, 1 as an assistant director and now, as playwright). It's always a joy. It feels like an artistic home. They've made me an Artistic Associate of the company and I'm honored to be one. Gabe and Suzanne Barabas, the Artistic Directors, are dedicated to telling new stories and doing good work. They also happen to be outstanding human beings. You can't ask much more than that.
We'd love to know about the team for Voyager One.
The team for Voyager One are the seasoned professionals that NJ Rep uses from show to show and with good reason. They know how to use the space to its full potential and what they've done for Voyager, from the costumes to the lights to sound to set is top notch. The director is Evan Bergman, whom I've worked with for many years in a number of capacities. He excels at developing and directing new work, so he's exactly who you want at the reins. Plus, he happens to be my good friend and that helps too.
What would you like audiences to know about the show?
Well, I don't want to say too much, as to spoil it. But I would say to folks coming to see the show to remember that the universe is a stranger and more wonderful place than we could ever know. Keep that in mind as you watch it.
Can you share some of your future plans?
Well next up after this production, I'm having a one-woman show I wrote for a friend produced as part of the Jersey Fringe (which is curated by the good folks at the Eagle Theater in Hammonton, NJ). It's titled They've All Gone & We'll Go Too and it's the story of one fan's love of Canada's greatest rock band (in this case we're talking about The Tragically Hip). The performer, Charlotte Northeast, is Canadian. And an amazing actor and a dear friend and she tasked me with helping tell her story about being a Canadian in America through the lens of this band's music. We're pretty excited how it turned out. Runs Aug 3-5, so come see it if you're of a mind!
Voyager One runs June 20 - July 21, 2019 at New Jersey Repertory Company located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch. Generous free parking is available in the parking lot behind the theatre. Previews are Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21 at 8:00 PM, and Saturday, June 22 at 3:00 PM. A special talk-back with the playwright and director will be held after the first preview, Thursday, June 20. Opening night with reception is Saturday, June 22 at 8:00 PM. Regular performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 PM; Saturdays at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM; Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $50 (opening night with reception, $60; premium seating + $5). Tickets are subject to a service charge. Annual subscriptions for year-round productions are now on sale $225 per person. For tickets or additional information call 732-229-3166 or visit www.njrep.org.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jared Michael Delaney