Friday, September 08, 2006

Coast of Utopia blog updated

The latest post from the blog:

First Rehearsal Day
Posted September 6, 2006

"When you think of nights in the theater that impress you," said Tom Stoppard, at yesterday's first rehearsal day for Coast of Utopia, "you tend to bring back fragments rather than the whole." As the cast of 36 (with eight children to come) took their chairs in a large basement rehearsal room at Lincoln Center, to undertake something that is, as LCT's Artistic Director, André Bishop, said in his remarks to the assembled, "on a scale unlike anything in New York theater in years," there were many fragments to come away with.

There was the size of the rectangle table set around which playwright, director, designers, assistants, cast, and various chroniclers sat. It was on a scale suggestive of a state dinner lit by torch lamps or perhaps the fixtures prominent in one of the production's stunning stage designs, which director Jack O'Brien unveiled: chandeliers.

There was the fact that the kick-off of rehearsals coincided with the first academic day in New York, imparting to the enterprise a true back-to-school flavor. But lest anyone think that the play's subject matter, 19th-century Russian radicalism, was going to give off the whiff of the seminar room, O'Brien made it clear that the play's characters were driven not by didacticism but by passion. "Fired thought," is the quality he said he was looking for. And Stoppard echoed both the romantic and the Romantic subtext of the play by pointing out that of the twenty scenes in the first part, Voyage, seventeen are about love.

Finally, O'Brien gave some very practical advice to everyone embarking on this seven-month enterprise: "Get enough sleep - and try not to get sick."

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