This month, Off-Broadway’s award-winning artist-driven company The New Group – known for its mission of developing and producing powerful contemporary theater that is adventurous, stimulating, and, most importantly, “a true forum for the present culture” – has launched a new venture, The New Group Off Stage, exploring theatrical works through a variety of media, with an inaugural production of Samuel Beckett’s tragi-comic absurdist masterpiece Waiting for Godot.
Presented in association with Nō Studios (founded by Academy Award winner and Wisconsin native John Ridley, with a physical space based in Milwaukee and a worldwide digital platform) and acclaimed film producer and director Frank Marshall, the project, according to The New Group Artistic Director Scott Elliott, “is the epitome of what we mean by ’theatrical expressions in different media,’ bringing together top tier artists across disciplines – film, television, stage, music – to collaborate in a hybrid on-screen world, finding a way to make a play newly alive for themselves. It was a unique and singularly meaningful experience for all of us.”
Directed by Elliott with a combination of theatrical invention with innovative filmmaking, the cast features stage and screen stars Ethan Hawke as Vladimir, John Leguizamo as Estragon, Wallace Shawn as Lucky, Tarik Trotter as Pozzo, and newcomer Drake Bradshaw making his acting debut as Boy, in an experimental artistic exploration of Beckett’s vision, seen through the lens of our own unresolved pandemic-time feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and loneliness. The team includes Derek McLane (production design), Qween Jean (costumes), and Justin Ellington (sound design, mixing, and mastering), with Kramer Morgenthau serving as director of photography, Yonatan Weinstein as editor, and Monet as assistant director.
In conjunction with the show, The New Group will present Off Stage Talks, a series of online artist conversations, panel discussions with partner organizations, and the digital return of the popular New Group Now public forum. Free and open to everyone, the talks kick off on Friday, May 21, at 7 pm, with “Performing Beckett on Screen,” streaming live on the Nō Studios website. Hosted by actor and Emmy-winning contributor to CBS Sunday Morning Nancy Giles, the special event features Leguizamo and Trotter, joined by their young castmate Bradshaw, in conversation with Elliott and Monet about their experience working on the classic play in a bold and challenging hybrid medium.
Waiting for Godot streams on demand through Wednesday, June 30, on The New Group website. For tickets, priced at $19.99 for a 72-hour rental, $24.99 for a 7-day rental, or $99 for an Off Stage Access Pass (giving unlimited viewing, plus access to upcoming 2021 Off Stage projects), go online. The Off Stage Talks are free, but reservations are suggested.
For a preview of the show, watch the trailer below: