In a downstairs rehearsal room at LCT this past week, as the glitterati were milling about the Lincoln Center main plaza outside for the start of Fashion Week, and well-dressed families strolled in the neighborhood around the campus for Rosh Hashanah, LCT's producing artistic director Andre Bishop addressed the troops: the staff of LCT and all the artists associated with Bruce Norris's play Domesticated, which was having its first day of rehearsal.
Bishop gave a warm welcome to everyone and said that Bernard Gersten, the recently retired executive producer of the theater, used to liken the first day of an autumn production to the first day of school. "He meant," said Bishop, "that there are lots of emotions. People are excited and nervous."
Subsequently, Anna B. Shapiro, who is directing the production, picked up the theme, saying that it was her children's first day of school and she knew what they felt like a little more acutely this time. She added, emotionally, "I've wanted to be here" - Lincoln Center Theater - "my entire life."
Leave it to the playwright, however, a man justly celebrated for his sharp dialogue, to inject humor into the gathering. "When I was around 14," Norris said, "and living in Houston, Texas, my school sent some students to New York to see theater. We were here to see big productions like 'Mack and Mabel' and 'Pippin.'" He and a few of the other kids (presumably with an adult chaperone in tow) were eager to see different fare, so they made their way to LCT. They saw "Streamers," one of David Rabe's Vietnam-War-era dramas. It was playing at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, the same place where "Domesticated" will have its run.
Seeing the Rabe made quite an impression on Norris. How large an impact? "It was that play that made me know I had to do non-musicals," he said.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com