Jack O'Brien, who is directing The Nance, knows from Shakespeare, having staged numerous productions of the playwright's work and having for decades headed a theater called the Old Globe. So when O'Brien addresses the assembled on a first day of rehearsals, as he did earlier this week to the cast of The Nance as well as staff from LCT, I inevitably ask myself: which Bardic character will he be channeling?
Ordinarily, I am put in mind of Henry V rousing the troops towards Agincourt: O'Brien motivates all participants to do their best - to be unafraid of the obstacles confronting them. Like Harry-in-the-night, he is also fond of a story or two. But for The Nance's kick-off, O'Brien struck a Polonius note: "Brevity is the soul of wit" could have described his remarks. He passed the mic to playwright Douglas Carter Beane, who tantalized listeners with the observation that in The Nance "a lot of events" are "real."
O'Brien said he was keeping his remarks to a minimum because the cast had a lot of work to do, and they wanted to get to it. This may have been ever-so-deflating to the listeners who were hoping for one of coach's opening-day stories, but one could hardly fault the director's work ethic. With the cast subsequently this week, around the table and in the initial stages of blocking, O'Brien has been regaling us with illuminating anecdotes. But as it is the general and enlightened policy of LCT to leave the artists to do their work without spilling unnecessary details onto social media - I'm old-fashioned, so I say hooray! - I am not going to pass along such palaver. I do, however, promise a lively interview with O'Brien on this blog soon.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com