Snow outside, rain inside: that's the first contrast we might mention this week as the cast and creative team of When the Rain Stops Falling, plus Lincoln Center Theater staff, assembled in an LCT rehearsal room to start work on Andrew Bovell's play. After welcomes provided by LCT executive producer Bernard Gersten and LCT artistic director Andre Bishop, other contrasts were sounded by the production's director, David Cromer.
Talking about the show's set, by David Korins, Cromer said the design challenge involved how to reflect "the earth-bound" - the way the play deals with "the messy problems of life" - and "the poetic," the language that "takes us out of ourselves."
Expanding his discussion, Cromer showed himself something of an amateur meteorologist. "How do we deal with the story's rain?" he asked.. "In New York, rain is often slightly misty. In the tropics, it pelts down hard. For the play, we had to determine how to convey both a trickle and a full-out shower." He added: "Whenever you deal with rain onstage, you have to be careful: You can too easily become a slave to it." And a final note about how to convey rain: "We arrived at something we call 'pink noise.'" (To find out exactly what that means, you're just going to have to buy tickets to the play!)
For his part, costume designer Clint Ramos addressed the meet-and-greet group in a less contrast-enriched manner. "This is a story that jumps back and forth between London and Australia, and ranges in time from the 1950s to 2039. The design challenge was: how to we tie the generations together without seeming too 'costumey'?"
Cromer then gave an entertaining speech elaborating on the play's design elements and touching on some of its broad topics: the environment, time and space, love and death. Then he boiled things down and deadpanned in a way that amused and enlivened his listeners: "All you really need to know about this production is: Shiny floor, raindrops, lots of speakers conveying varieties of sound." After a break, Cromer and the cast turned to the main business of the day: a read-through of Bovell's intricate, beautiful play.
BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.