The latest show from Wooster Group, a revival of North Atlantic, completely sold out "to the rafters" for its autumn run, but those who couldn't get seats take heart: the mixed-media ensemble piece returns Jan. 11, 2000 for an open run.
The show will again play at the 99-seat Performing Garage -- Wooster Group's usual home. Production spokesperson Richard Kimmel noted that, for the time being, the show will again be off-limits to critics. (Many Wooster Group productions, especially those in "workshop," are not open to the press.)
Veteran Wooster Group members Willem Dafoe and Kate Valk were in the original mounting of North Atlantic in 1984 and returned again for this production, which ran Oct. 14-Nov. 21 and now embarks on an open ended engagement. Wooster Group associate members Chad Coleman, Steve Cuiffo, Scott Shepard, Pete Simpson, Ari Fliakos, Koosil-ja Hwang, Emily McDonnell, Helen Eve Pickett, Scott Shepherd and Michelle Stern will all be onhand, as will Philip Bussmann, James Dawson, Martin R. Desjardins, Jim Findlay, Mark Huang, Guy Larkin, Jeff Sugg, Ruud Van den Akker and Tara Webb.
This latest show from Wooster Group is a golden oldie -- the 15-year-old North Atlantic, a mixed-media ensemble piece by James Strahs, first staged by the Group at its Performing Garage in January 1984. It's now a "Rework-in-Progress," and spokesperson Kimmel says changes are made for nearly every performance, including the addition of new songs during the run.
Set on an aircraft carrier, North Atlantic looks at late-Century America, where "the analog technology of the time collides with American folk traditions in the form of choral speech, singing and dancing." Written in the post-Vietnam but pre-Perestroika era, North Atlantic also looks at the changing role of the military. Dafoe, star of the films "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Light Sleeper," plays the role originally played by the late Ron Vawter. Buscemi has been playing the character originally done by Dafoe. Original cast member Spalding Gray is not in the new lineup (he's on Broadway, finishing up his latest solo, Morning, Noon and Night).
Jennifer Tipton provides lighting for the piece, which incorporates the company's trademark use of microphones and high-tech-meets-primitive theatrics, this one centering on audio tape and tape recorders.
North Atlantic was first developed with a Dutch company and staged at Holland's Globe Theatre in 1983. The show then played briefly in New York and went on to have a staging at Washington DC's National Theatre (then run by Peter Sellars). Strahs' play last surfaced in 1988 at a special benefit performance.
Other Wooster Group productions include Fish Story (1994), The Hairy Ape (1995), House/Lights (1998) and Brace Up! (1991). In 1991, the troupe won an Obie for 15 years of sustained excellence.
For tickets ($15-$25) and information on North Atlantic call (212) 966-3651.
-- By David Lefkowitz