Spotlight on Jaclyn Backhaus

With just a few days to go before our first public performance of Folk Wandering, we’re pleased to bring you interviews with the pair who first conceived of this oh so very big oh so very special musical. Jaclyn Backhaus and Andrew Neisler first dreamed up Folk Wandering in 2008, and since then it has grown into the collective dream of a family of over 70 emerging artists. Below, Jaclyn shares the story of how it all happened. Read Jaclyn’s interview below, check out Andrew’s here, and grab your tickets to Folk Wandering today (February 23 – March 18, A.R.T. New York Theatres)!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Tell me the Folk Wandering origin story, how did this musical come to be?
Jaclyn Backhaus: I was 24 and I wanted to write a play about youth and hope and naiveté. I had a cigar box of talismans that I took with me on a writing retreat. I wrote a bunch of scenes that took place in different timelines and geographies. I realized that it was too big for just words, and I hypothesized that it might have a music backbone. I took it to my friend Neisler’s apartment in Bushwick, where we sat on a green couch he found and thought about the potential power of a collective. A few weeks later, we were in a room with a dozen musician friends, who wrote incredible music and made me realize why these scenes spoke to each other in the first place.

PTC: What was it that made you want to create this musical?
JB: I felt trapped in my young circumstance, I felt the need to move. I felt my youthful rumblings mirrored the charting of this country, its adolescent manifest-destiny-promise. And as my friends took my text and changed it and put it into music, I felt that this musical could stand as a testament to theatrical collaboration as a way to unite and forge anew.

PTC: What aspect of the Folk Wandering story do you most relate to?
JB: Tiny Rosealia wanting, more than anything, to document the world around her, to document the precious fleeting moment, to wish it would never leave.

PTC: If you were to write a tagline for Folk Wandering, what would it be?
JB: Listen and you’ll hear beauty and underbelly-truth.

PTC: What big dreams have you been chasing recently (or would you like to chase)?
JB: I want to subvert the patriarchal climax-driven narrative format we have been forced to acquiesce to as storytellers. 

PTC: Two truths and a lie, go:
JB: I’m a mom. I’m left-handed. I’m a cactus.

PTC: What first attracted you to playwriting?
JB: I think words are evocative and impossible. I will forever and fleetingly engage in an impossible act. 

Folk Wandering begins preview performances on February 23, opens on March 4, and runs through March 18. Tickets are now available to all performances. Get your tickets today!