The latest show from Wooster Group, a revival of North Atlantic, is completely sold out "to the rafters" for the rest of its run, through Nov. 21. But those who can't get seats take heart: the mixed-media ensemble piece will return Jan. 11, 2000 for an open run.
Spokesperson Richard Kimmel told Playbill On-Line the show will likely return to the 99-seat Performing Garage -- Wooster Group's usual home -- but there are also possibilities of moving to a larger venue. Kimmel noted that if the show stays put, it 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 and returned again for the current engagement, which opened Oct. 14. Dafoe will be back for the winter mounting, though Steve Buscemi's schedule may preclude his return (Scott Shepherd has already been doubling the role). Wooster Group associate members Chad Coleman, Steve Cuiffo, Ari Fliakos, Koosil-ja Hwang, Emily McDonnell, Helen Eve Pickett, Scott Shepherd and Michelle Stern will all return in January, 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 with 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's return in January, which began performances Oct. 14, call (212) 966-3651. Tickets are already on sale for the return engagement.
-- By David Lefkowitz