WAITING FOR GODOT
“In the hands of Arin Arbus, along with Michael Shannon, who plays Estragon, and Paul Sparks, who plays Vladimir, the play becomes what it has always been: a thrilling, melancholy, comic slice of life on earth.” - The New Yorker
“Arbus and her actors achieve a dynamic and even heartfelt production of a classic. I’m grateful to this keen director and her phenomenal actors—and promise not to forget.” - Observer
“WIT AND HUMANITY…REMARKABLY LIBERATING…Arin Arbus’s Waiting for Godot feels vigorous and down-to-earth.” - New York Magazine
“Naidu as Pozzo, sketches a clear satire of power. Lucky speaks only once in the play…it’s a milestone speech for an actor, and Biehl pulls it off with sinister force.” - New York Magazine
“EXCELLENT PRODUCTION…RIVETING...Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks bring a bracing comedic energy that makes sense of the play’s various absurdities and resonant depth.” - Daily Beast
“Peerless star performances and inventive direction.” - Lighting & Sound America
“★★★★☆ WAITING FOR GODOT: Beckett's masterpiece revived, worth the wait.” - New York Stage Review
“One of the shows we can’t wait to see this fall.” - New York Magazine
“Especially exciting to have Michael Shannon take on the role of Estragon.” - The New York Times
“This Godot represents a reunion of two of the most unforgettable actors working on the New York stage. I’m expecting incredible things from this duo.” - TheaterMania
“I can’t think of two actors I’d rather see do nothing than Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks.” - Observer
“I once saw its stars, Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks, crack each other up onstage so hard that they had to hide under a blanket. If you think a little existential dread will make them behave, I’ve got a tree and a moon to sell you.” - The New Yorker
Running time: 2 hours and 25 minutes plus one 15-minute intermission
Since their first appearance in a tiny Paris theatre in 1953, Samuel Beckett’s iconic down-and-outs Vladimir and Estragon have rarely been off the stage. Nearly every evening, somewhere on the globe, they show up for their dubious appointment with a savior named Godot who never comes, filling time with games and musing aphoristically on existence. Hilarious and heartbreaking, Waiting for Godot is the modern theatre’s indispensable document of rootlessness, uncertainty, and perpetually postponed deliverance. Godot will be directed by Arin Arbus (Resident Director, TFANA) whose critically acclaimed productions for the company include her OBIE Award-winning staging of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth. This production will reunite actors Michael Shannon and Paul Sparks, who last worked together for TFANA in Ionesco’s The Killer, directed by Darko Tresnjak in 2014.
Toussaint Francois Battiste (a Boy). Most recently Toussaint (“T”) appeared as Travis Younger, opposite his father in the critically acclaimed, Lucille Lortel winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun at The Public Theater, directed by Robert O’Hara. Based with his family in Sacramento, CA, Battiste is in the 6th grade.
Jeff Biehl (Lucky) Broadway: Machinal (Roundabout). Off-Broadway: The Unbelieving (The Civilians), The Merchant of Venice (TFANA), Life Sucks (Drama Desk Nom. Outstanding Actor, Wheelhouse), Catch as Catch Can (Page73), Charles Francis Chan Jr’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO), 10 Out of 12 (Soho Rep), Poor Behavior (Primary Stages), Burning (New Group), Isaac’s Eye (EST). Regional: world premieres at Yale Rep, Denver Center, Woolly Mammoth, and Humana Festival. Film: Relay (upcoming), Worth, A Master Builder, Ricki and the Flash. TV: The Path, Vinyl, Mysteries of Laura, Forever, Southland, all Law & Orders. Juilliard.
Ajay Naidu (Pozzo) A veteran of many theatre productions, Naidu has been working with Theater Complicité, where credits include Measure for Measure, The Master and Margarita and The Kid Stays in the Picture. He is a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company. His film credits are extensive, and he is known for playing “Samir” in the cult hit Office Space and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Rick Linklater and Eric Bogosian’s SubUrbia. His directorial debut Ashes won him best actor awards at the London Asian Film Festival and the New York Indian Film Festival. He has appeared in many notable television shows.
Michael Shannon (Estragon) is an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Tony Award nominated actor. This is his third show at TFANA, having previously performed in Ionesco’s The Killer, directed by Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak, and Denis Johnson’s Des Moines, directed by Arin Arbus. He also collaborated with Arbus in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune on Broadway, alongside Audra McDonald. Shannon recently wrapped his film directorial debut, Eric LaRue, based on the Brett Neveu play that debuted at A Red Orchid Theatre (of which Shannon is a founder) in Chicago in 2002. Shannon recently starred opposite Jessica Chastain in Showtime/Paramount+ limited series George & Tammy. He is currently filming Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders, marking Shannon’s eighth re-team with Nichols, with previous collaborations including Loving, Hank the Cowdog, Midnight Special, Take Shelter, Mud, and Shotgun Stories.
Paul Sparks (Vladimir) Broadway: Grey House, Hedda Gabler, Take Me Out. Off-Broadway: The Killer (TFANA), Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, Buried Child, Dusk Rings a Bell, Essential Self Defense, Landscape of the Body, Orange Flower Water, Blackbird, Coyote on the Fence. Film: Upcoming: The Bikeriders, Eric LaRue, Lost on a Mountain in Maine. Recent: The Lovebirds; Thoroughbreds; The Greatest Showman, Midnight Special. Television: Physical, Joe Pickett, Waco, Castlerock, The Night Of, Boardwalk Empire, House of Cards, The Girlfriend Experience, Sweetbitter. Six Drama Desk nominations in addition to Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lortel, and Emmy nominations. Winner of SAG and Independent Spirit Awards.
Arin Arbus (Director) Resident Director, TFANA, and the company’s former Associate Artistic Director, for whom she directed Denis Johnson’s Des Moines, The Winter’s Tale, The Skin of Our Teeth (Obie Award), Strindberg’s The Father and Ibsen’s Doll’s House in rep, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Othello, and most recently the critically acclaimed The Merchant of Venice starring John Douglas Thompson. She directed Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Tony nom. for best revival) with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon on Broadway. Arbus spent several years making theatre with prisoners in association with Rehabilitation Through the Arts and in 2018, she directed an adaptation of The Tempest in a refugee camp in Greece for The Campfire Project.
Riccardo Hernández, Scenic Designer
Susan Hilferty, Costume Designer
Chris Akerlind, Lighting Designer
Palmer Hefferan, Sound Designer
Byron Easley, Choreographer
Bill Irwin, Creative Consultant
Andrew Wade, Voice Director
Jon Knust, Properties Supervisor
Jonathan Kalb, Dramaturg
J. David Brimmer, Fight Director
Shane Schnetzler, Production Stage Manager
Design by Paul Davis Studio / Mo Hinojosa
Beginning with TFANA’s 2023-24 season, face masks for audiences are encouraged, but not required.
Endowment support for this production is provided by The Howard Gilman Foundation Fund for Classic Drama.
Deloitte and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the 2023-2024 Season Sponsors.
Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs is provided by the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in the New York Community Trust, The SHS Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.
Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs are also made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.