OTHER DESERT CITIES
I saw Other Desert Cities on Broadway several years ago and immediately fell in love with the play. So when Karen Azenberg asked me to direct it for PTC, I was delighted.
The central dramatic question of the play is in some ways very simple: “Where, ultimately, does the responsibility of the artist lie – to truth or to people – and most particularly, when the ‘people’ involved are family?” And, of course, you can extend that beyond the notion of the artist: “Where does any individual’s responsibility lie – to truth or to people – and particularly family?”
Despite the fact the action of Other Desert Cities is set very specifically by the playwright, Jon Robin Baitz, on one day, Christmas Eve, 2004, in a very real sense the play is set between the bookends of the Vietnam and the Iraq Wars. For one of my age, one who was draft-eligible during the Vietnam war, the play has incredible resonance and evokes both the national and the family quarrels that emerged in that era and that continue to shape our political consciousness to this day.
This is a very good play. It is funny. It is intellectually and emotionally engaging, it deals with real political issues, but most importantly it is a deeply felt and fully realized American family drama. It is a pleasure to return to PTC and a particular pleasure to do so to work on Other Desert Cities.
~ Charles Morey, director