Other Desert Cities is a five character play by Jon Robin Baitz which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and nominated for five 2012 Tony Awards including Best Play. Other Desert Cities, which balances comedy and intense family drama, involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret.
Available roles (Male)
LYMAN WYETH – (Age Range 55 – 75)
The head of the family, Lyman is a sturdy man and a strong believer in American traditions and values. Lyman is a retired movie actor turned politician and served as an ambassador in the Reagan Administration.
TRIP WYETH – (Age Range 23 – 35)
Trip is Brooke’s brother. He is bright, funny and is a Reality TV producer. Caught in the middle between Brooke and his parents. Baitz has stated that Trip’s way of surviving is to adopt a ‘let it go, it’s all fine’ attitude which is partly the reason why he is constantly called upon to make peace in the family.
Available roles (Female)
SILDA WYETH – (Age Range 45 – 65)
Silda is Polly’s sister. She is a recovering alcoholic and is currently staying with Polly and Lyman. Silda stands up to her sister several times, pointing out how harsh she is. Silda has a volatile but loving relationship with her sister.
The roles of Brooke and Polly have been cast.
The show will be directed by Glenn Bassett.
Please bring a current photo and acting resume.
Rehearsals will begin late November and performances are scheduled January 17th through January 20nd at The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.
If you would like to request a specific audition time slot, or of you cannot make Monday’s audition and would like to read for a role, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Walk-ins are welcome!
We hope you can join us!
Please note: There are no children’s roles in this production.
The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center -- 300 Main Street -- Old Saybrook, CT
SIDES FOR AUDITIONS
Trip Side 1: (scene with Polly)
Page 20 (bottom)
TRIP. Stop staring at me. You're giving me hives.
POLLY. Do you have any cigarettes hidden anywhere, Trip?
TRIP. No. I am totally smoke-free, Mom.
POLLY. It's all or nothing with your generation. Either vegans or meth addicts or both at the same time, we have meth labs just outside of town, they blow up every now and then. The labs AND the addicts. (Beat.) How does she seem to you?
TRIP. A little on edge, a little nervous, but basically, you know, fine?
POLLY. (Scoffi.) "Basically fine"? You have no observational skills, none at all. She's not "a little nervous;" she's dancing as fast as she can, and something's up. What?
TRIP. I dunno, don't ask me, jeez. I'm not like the family goddamn spy.
POLLY. Something about her book? Did you read it? What is it, I'd really like it if someone gave me some advance warning of what to-
TRIP. (Over her.) I haven't even looked at it yet! Stop interrogating me, I'm not sixteen, god. She's a grownup person, stop studying her like she's a specimen out of some lab.
POLLY. She's hardly a "grownup person," darling, she's naive, she's secretive, very, very private - lots of locked doors in her doll house. No, she's a little kid, honey. A smart, sly one.
TRIP. Well, you make people very nervous!
POLLY. (Snapping.) I do not make people "very nervous!" (Beat.) Not when they have nothing to be nervous about! But really, I worry about her. She's tanked the marriage, Cary gave up. Did you know that?
TRIP. Yeah, but she didn't "tank" anything. That's bullshit and you know it, Polly! Cary was a class-A creep. She just liked him because he looked like Lord Byron's little faggy cousin. That sad wet Brit married her for a fucking green card, Mom. Please. He never loved her: He loved not being fucking English. Why don't you back your daughter instead of that mossy little prick?
POLLY. Well, A: Please don't swear so much. And B: It is not out of the question that she has a trace of lesbianism in her, like my sister.
TRIP. Well, A: That would be fine. What's wrong with that? And besides - B: (Sweetly.) Why are we having this talk, Polly?
POLLY. Because you're a moron.
TRIP. Yeah. So what about it?
POLLY. (Emphatically.) Because when we're gone, you're going to have to watch out for her.
TRIP. "Gone"? Where are you going? You going somewhere?
POLLY. What if she has another breakdown? And we're gone? It'll be on you! You!
TRIP. She's fine. The meds.
POLLY. And when they stop working? The brain grows used to them, you know, I've read it in the internet!
TRIP. You read it in the internet? Oh well, then it must be true!
Why are you saying this? She is fine! She just finished writing a book! She sold it! She's back on her feet! God, you never worried about me like that.
POLLY. (Snapping.) Because I didn't have to! Life for you has always been easy, despite the horrific habit you have of putting question marks at the end of so many sentences unnecessarily.
TRIP. (Grinning.) Thanks?
Trip Side 2: (monologue to the whole family)
(Page 31 bottom)
TRIP. You know what? All of you - there are at least three places I could have been right now: Cape Town, Punta del Este, or Bahia. There are girls with fun families in beach houses where you can swim and drink and laugh and nobody is trying to fucking, you know, assassinate each other over a goddamn book. (Beat.) Over a BOOK! That is of almost zero-point-one conceivable percent interest to ANYONE I know! And I know a lot of people. I have learned so much about families from my show. (He laughs.) The way in which the bored and the damaged ruin whatever little bit of happiness they happen to have. And I always want to tell them, "Hey, you schmucks, you have wasted one more day of living better." (There is silence.) But me? I'm pretty goddamn happy, and I'm not going to let you all take that away from me. (Beat.) I have reservations on three flights to distant cities for tomorrow and I will only be cancelling two of them at this rate. (He looks at his mother.) So as to "Would I stone her?" See, I'm not asking for peace like Dad is. Mom, I'm just telling you, I love everyone here, and I won't be played. Not by any one of you.
BROOKE. I'm so sorry, Trip. I don't mean for you to be in the middle of it. This. Mess.
TRIP. Yeah, well. (Beat.) You're a really good writer,
Brooke. Seriously. But you . . . (He stops, shakes his head. He walks out. Brooke sits down, nodding. Silence.
Lyman Side 1: (scene with Brooke)
(page 16 – 18)
LYMAN. I wrote you last month offering money.
BROOKE. Yes. You did.
LYMAN. You have not favored me with the courtesy of a reply.
BROOKE. Daddy. I don't need your money- my life works. Just as it is. Simple. Clean.
LYMAN. But why not? Given how tenuous things are getting - I want only to make your life at least incrementally –
BROOKE. (Laughing.) Better? Money does that - how? Has it - ever - for us? No. We all know that much by now. I am pleading with you, don't make this whole trip about a check from you. Okay?
LYMAN. What kind of living do you make? Those magazine pieces? Oh, it's very nice when Gourmet or Travel & Leisure sends you to Sri Lanka, and god knows what you get for an editorial - but at the end of the day? It's hand-to-mouth.
BROOKE. Dad, all my friends who get a check from home - there is not a single one of them - not one - whom it has not crippled in some fundamental way. I have everything I need. Really, please. The balance is so delicate, I can't screw with it.
LYMAN. What if it happens again? A depression? You lost - you lost years - we watched, helpless - that hospital.
BROOKE. Look - I take the lovely little pills, and I see the blessed Dr. Leighton every week, twice a week, and I do yoga, and I eat right, and I have learned optimism just like the magazines told us to. And now I know how to handle it.
LYMAN. I'm sorry.
BROOKE. Daddy, look at me. I've had tough times and everything that has happened to me - everything - has made me stronger. I'm your child. And Mom's. Two old trees. Two old oak trees. And I'm an oak, too. Okay, got it? Oaks.
LYMAN. We all have our ways of coping; mine is to be overprotective late in life. You sometimes fail to understand that I lost a child. Therefore I am unable to relax about my remaining two.
BROOKE. You can't live like that.
LYMAN. It's collateral damage. I don't expect you could know what that feels like, my darling.
BROOKE. (Quietly.) How can you say that. "I don't know what it feels like." I lost my older brother. He was my best friend - you know, I don't make friends easily, he was - most of my world and - then he was gone -
LYMAN. You still miss him.
BROOKE. Every day, most of the day, all day.
LYMAN. (A small wan smile. An older smile. Plaintive.) For me it's the holidays; at Christmas, I think of your brother. I think of Henry. Of what's left. Of time, and of everything. You'd think it would be forgotten by now.
BROOKE. Just because you moved to the desert does not mean that anybody with a computer couldn't find out what happened with this family in a matter of moments. It's part of who we are, we can't just pretend it never happened.
LYMAN. A lot of people get through the entirety of their lives pretending; at a certain point, it's not the worst thing to do.
BROOKE. I'm sorry, Daddy, I tried to live that way, and I just can't. I need to actually talk about it. Not in code, not obliquely, we have never ...
LYMAN. (Pained. But sharp, shutting this down.) I can't. (He stops. Shakes his head Softens.) Maybe it's the old actor in me. Maybe I prefer my lines written down. Sometimes I see myself on the TV, late at night, grimacing with a forty-five in my hand, arresting someone. That was so much easier.
BROOKE. (A sad smile.) You should have stayed a movie star. You were so handsome.
LYMAN. Yes, but it mortified me. I just looked good in a suit. (Polly appears in the doorway dressed in a bright caftan, and wearing bright jade earrings, a sort of David Hockney subject, posing.)
Lyman Side 2: (monologue talking to Brooke)
(page 37 – 38)
LYMAN. (Beat, quietly.) I never wrote my memoir, because it would have hurt our friends, how hard it was, after Henry was implicated the way he was, how they all vanished and your mother refused to accept it. She circled the wagons. Around me. Borne out of thinking I'm easily bruised. I am not easily bruised. (Beat. There is a certain intense, lost quality in his telling of this. It is not easy; a story never shared It is an illustrative story, meant to draw her in.) But she would not let them off the hook, she's the only woman to have faced down Nancy Reagan, Betsy Bloomingdale, and Mrs. Annenberg at the same lunch and reduced them all to tears. Tears of shame for their unconscionable behavior - (A growl.) As though I had placed that bomb. Your mother reminded them all who we really were, and of their obligations to honor loyal friends - Nancy went to Ronnie and sat him down, they had a dinner for us at the L.A. Country Club and everyone came out. Yes. Now they were our friends again. And by the time Ronnie was president, they made me ambassador . . . (His eyes well up, he grins through it, the way older men do, when telling these sorts of stories.)
BROOKE. I didn't know it went down like that. That Mom did that.
LYMAN. (Imploring.) Please don't do this. I cannot embarrass those people. They're, some of them, alive still - ! You can do what you like after we're gone! Do you not understand that? It's simply good manners. It's as simple as that!
BROOKE. (Serious and quiet.) Well, let me tell you, good manners have got me into a lot of trouble, Dad. Probably you too. I am past the point of good manners.
LYMAN. (And finally, knowing he lost, letting the bitterness come out, unmasked, no longer the diplomat.) You have so much of your mother in you. You don't like any weakness, especially in yourself You can't forgive it. (Beat.) It is why you ended up in a damn hospital! Well - if you can't forgive yourself, I suppose it's futile to ask you to forgive me! No. (His voice rises.) So you'll publish your book and punish us all, and a reporter will call me for a comment! (His voice choking.) And I will say, "No comment."
Silda Side 1: (scene with Polly)
(page 24 -26)
SILDA. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn't smoke, but all these goddamn virtues will just kill us all, really.
POLLY. Oh, I know you think that, sis.
SILDA. Don't be so smug. Helen Bloom quit a year ago and then got mowed down by a garbage truck on Bob Hope Drive and she coulda had a hell of a last year. Smoking like a chimney, not being tense, all of it. It was her biggest pleasure and she quit for nothing. A lost year of happiness.
POLLY. Silda. Is this your way of saying you want to keep on drinking? Is that what this is?
SILDA. (A shrug.) Honey - If I wanted to, I would. I don't. So I won't.
POLLY. Helen Bloom died? I thought she just dropped us.
SILDA. She did drop you. And then she died.
POLLY. Maybe they're connected. Why did she drop us?
SILDA. Why does anyone drop you? Because you're not an easy person. I'd drop you too if I could. (Beat.) Do you like the Pucci I'm wearing?
POLLY. Do you mean - do I like the quote/unquote "Pucci" you're wearing?
SILDA. Please don't start with me! There was a sale. I had to fight off three old vultures for this Pucci! It was like something from National Geographic.
POLLY. This Pucci was made in a basement in Rangoon, please! All these phony designer dresses and tacky Hong Kong knock-offs you scrounge for at Loehmann's; they never fool anybody, really.
SILDA. This Pucci is quite, quite real! (The gift-wrapping ceases.)
POLLY. Darling. I know when I'm being played. I know what's real and what isn't.
SILDA. (Dead serious.) They don't have fake at Loehmann's!
POLLY. Right. They have originals for fourteen ninety-five. It's a miracle!
SILDA. (Getting angry.) Polly! Stop that! That's mean. What's the matter with you?
POLLY. I'll tell you what's wrong: the buttons are wrong! The colors are off1 Listen - there's no shame in being careful, in having to scrounge for bargains, it's admirable! It's the trying to pass that gets me! (Beat.) All I am saying is, don't try and pull one over on me, I don't like it when people pretend things are one thing and they're actually clearly another. ……. Oh, I can wait, but let's not pretend that those are real buttons. (Silda stares at her sister, nodding. She then starts to laugh.)
SILDA. You know, I am going to have to learn how to deal with you now that I'm sober. Because if I were drinking, that train of thought would make sense to me, but sober, what you just said is totally incomprehensible.
POLLY. Before she died, Helen Bloom quit my book dub, you know.
SILDA. I know all about it. But that wasn't a book club; it was a vast right-wing conspiracy! See, your politics are offensive to normal people. You goad people with them.
POLLY. I like to spar.
SILDA. That's what Attila the Hun said! That's why you two are so isolated here! Your only social life is with that blue-hair republican crowd. All those fundraisers you do or go to, all those hopeless squares. You used to be so with-it! When we were kids. (Polly sighs, gets up, pours herself another drink.)
POLLY. Silda. I love those fund-raisers. I believe in them. I believe in that "crowd." They're my people. They have a stake in upholding the entrepreneurial American spirit. I'm still a Texas girl, Silda. So are you.
SILDA. (Looking at her.) Honey. Newsflash: You're not a Texan, you're a Jew! We're Jewish girls who lost their accents along the way, but for you that wasn't enough, you had to become a goy, too. Talk about the real thing? Talk about "faking it." Honey, this Pucci is a lot more real than your Pat Buckley schtick.
Silda Side 2: (scene with Brooke)
(page 35 – 36)
SILDA. I wish you'd let me give you some concealer, you have those dark circles under your eyes. You just need some TV Touch, honey.
BROOKE. (Bursts out laughing.) You and your TV Touch. Jesus, you think that's what I need? A goddamn makeover? (Silda delves into her purse and comes out with a little pot of makeup, which Brooke submits to.)
SILDA. Hold still, you're so jumpy. What? You want a Xanax or something? I have a whole goddamn Halloween bag of the stuff.
BROOKE. (Exhausted but smiling.) Please- I beg you. Stop trying to make me laugh - this is not in the slightest bit funny.
SILDA. (Quietly, while applying makeup.) Okay. No. Lyman is not unkind. But. (Beat.) But life is chemical. And a chemical reaction happens when two people get together, and in this case, a certain kind of ambition, and striving overtook the actual human beings. Your parents are holding on to the last bits of power and influence they had, and they can't imagine a world in which you have the right to speak of it. Critically. (Beat.) They tried so hard to turn Henry into one of them; cut his hair, sent him to a boarding school for delinquents, forbade him to express any antiwar sentiment in their home, forbade his friends to enter the house - they tried to clean him up, but he fought as hard as he could. I tried to protect him -to give him something. But I was no match. (Beat.) These people, driven by fear, have taken ownership of an entire country. And fear - fear led to punishment and in the case of your brother, even at the cost of a life itself - just to hold on to the "way things were." You managed to explain in one little book, in one book. And you did it just by telling the story of this family. (Beat.) Isn't that something?(Silda stares at Brooke, not doing her makeup for a moment. When she goes on, it is with great clarity, specificity, urgency.) So, please. I am begging you. Don't back down. Brooke: You are stronger than Henry was. Your book gives him everything I couldn't. And I am telling you what I told him! "Do what you must! Fight on." (Beat.) Don't back down. Do it for him, for Henry, do not back down! You'll win, because you have ideas, and they only have fear!