The Macbeth ensemble, led by Ethan Hawke in the title role, are hard at work. While I make a point of not reporting on the actors' activities in the rehearsal room - Isherwood's phrase "I Am A Camera" does not apply to me there - I have reflected upon a few things the past few days while watching the cast that I wanted to pass along.
1) Bruce Norris, whose play Domesticated is also rehearsing at LCT right now, pointed out to me that "Ethan" is an anagram for "Thane."
2) Macbeth is housed right now in LCT's large rehearsal room. Most productions - including another Jack O'Brien show, The Coast of Utopia,which had a cast larger than Macbeth -- rehearse in the space width-wise as you enter the hall. Because of how the production will utilize its stage,Macbeth is rehearsing the length of the space. Is this all part of the intention of O'Brien to, as he good-naturedly told LCT producing artistic director Andre Bishop not long ago, "restore the Beaumont to its grandeur"?
3) Looking at O'Brien, and the associate director, Ben Klein, and the production stage manager, Tripp Phillips, as they face the Macbeth actors in the rehearsal room, I am reminded that the difference between actors and directors lies in their degree of hair. This tends also to be true in the movies: a high proportion of Hollywood's greatest directors - Hitchcock, Spielberg, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola - exhibit degrees of baldness that would not have been tolerated in their stars.
4) In one of his diary entries, the British playwright/performer Alan Bennett says that the reason he's never had much desire to act in Shakespeare is because so many of the plays have kings, and being at court is physically taxing. "Too much standing around" remarks Bennett, who would not feel at home, I suspect, in LCT's minimally furnished Macbeth. As our director said the other day in rehearsal, with only slight exaggeration: "Nobody sits in a Jack O'Brien production of Shakespeare."
5) Having Thane on the brain means that I have been acutely sensitive to signs of it all around me. I was at a SoHo bookstore the other day and the clerk who rang up my purchase was reading Macbeth for a school assignment. The book I purchased, Wilson, by A. Scott Berg, did not suggest anything Shakespearean. But I had hardly cracked its cover when Macbeth made an appearance: while an undergraduate at Princeton, President Wilson read the play and became something of an expert on its place names. Woodrow to the Wood, in other words.
6) Further omens to alert even the least witchy among us: "Ethan Hawke" was the answer to a clue in this past Sunday's New York Times crossword andMacbeth was a clue in the same puzzle.
7) Directors and stage managers must be ever-alert to any hint of impending illness: colds can multiply in a rehearsal room as rapidly as they can in a classroom. Even so, I was surprised to notice in a Macbeth rehearsal-room corner a store of Emergencee that approached Costco proportions.
8) Outside the rehearsal hall, there is a tea-and-coffee station and a few tables. While sitting at one of these the other day I noticed that someone had left behind a page of the play's script, with the following scribbled notation: "Macbeth would be no match for Dexter."
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com