Here's the second question I get from potential ticket buyers about this production of Macbeth: "Is it modern-dress or period?" (To the first question, "Who's in it?", I respond, "Ethan Hawke and a great group of actors.") At the first of Macbeth rehearsals this week, in LCT's large downstairs rehearsal room, Jack O'Brien, the show's director, replied to the second question by saying: "I decided I wouldn't put the production in a specific timeframe or location."
This explanation may not satisfy the period purists (the subject of what, in 2013, constitutes "period" is a whole seminar in itself) but it also has the advantage, I suspect, of not alienating them, either. Such patrons won't have the task of figuring out why the Macbeth they're watching takes place, say, in Turkmenistan under Stalinist rule, but they equally won't have to wonder just how period-authentic is the embroidery on a Thane's cloak.
Just how well-covered this Macbeth's cast was for first rehearsal became an issue as the company broke for lunch: awaiting them outdoors as they searched for sustenance was a downpour of rain and the crack of thunder. Such meteorological theatrics were appropriate: Macbeth - as this production will make clear - is steeped in superstition. What's more, the drama's first lines are: "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?"
If the weather augured auspicious, the mood in the first-day rehearsal room also heralded good things. Before O'Brien began sharing his thoughts on the play with the cast, he and LCT's producing artistic director, Andre Bishop, addressed a greater group of not only cast but LCT's staff. Bishop welcomed the assembled and praised what he considers "an extraordinary company." Many of the artists, he pointed out, "have worked together here many times." In fact, I thought: The above-the-title billing could almost say, "The LCT Players Present Macbeth."
The myriad connections were apparent to anyone lucky enough to be in on the meet-and-greet: what no camera can quite capture - and you will soon be able to watch first-day footage on this website - were the complex familiarities exchanged by actors and staff. When actors are doing eight shows a week they don't have much time to stay current with friends, so the morning provided an occasion to learn whose kid was in what grade and whose relationship had broken up and whether spending a whole summer shooting that new sitcom and L.A. had been worth it.
One thing was clear: everyone at the meet-and-greet was feeling that being in the room at first rehearsal was very much worth it.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com