"One should never begin rehearsing a play in New York when New York still feels like the tropics," Noel Coward once remarked. Looking at today's mid-August meet-and-greet session before the first rehearsal of Nathan Louis Jackson's play Broke-ology, it was hard to avoid feeling that the weather isn't the only requirement that has changed since Coward's time: just as plays in New York now start rehearsing before the mercury dips, so do they now get going as the scholastic kick-off approaches: much of the nation, though not the city, starts school next week.
Assembled in one of LCT's basement rehearsal rooms, the play's cast and creative principals, as well as LCT's staff, were welcomed by Bernard Gersten, the theater's executive producer, who sounded the scholastic theme. (LCT's artistic director, Andre Bishop, was there in spirit.) Gersten wished everyone a "satisfying" experience with the play, and, speaking for himself, said it was great "to be at the beginning of a new season - to be back at school."
Gersten passed the baton to Tommy Kail, Broke-ology's director. (Tommy and I are both sports fans, so prepare yourself for a Backstage Blog as packed with athletic metaphors as a big-league locker room is teeming with good-natured insults.) Kail said he was thrilled to be back at work with Broke-ology. (He directed an earlier production last summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.) Taking note of the fact that the rehearsal room was windowless, he confessed, "I didn't know you could rehearse a play in anywhere BUT a basement until very recently."
The meet-and-greet session ended with designer Donyale Werle showing everyone a model of the production's set. It was inspired, she said, by many things, including photos of houses affected by Hurricane Katrina and domestic images she found on Facebook. "Pieces of the set, and props, have been taken from all over: from salvage yards, real homes, even from other shows." Listening to her, I thought of another Noel Coward quote: "Resourceful people should never be underestimated."
BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.