Each year, Desert Theatre League announces the nominees for their Desert Star Awards. Think the Academy Awards, on a local level for Community Theatre. As a member of the Desert Theatre League, all theatre companies are eligible to be judged for these Awards including School Drama productions, with various categories identified. Judges are sent to a performance(s), unknown to the actors involved when this will happen – and this is a good thing! They may all come the same night, or over the run of the play. SCSH Performing Arts Club has been a member since its inception.
Over the years we have had many nominees, mostly for our comedies and musicals. This year, our club took a different direction and decided to present a drama to our community: Other Desert Cities. Wanting to branch out and meet the interests of all our patrons, we found a play set in the desert that had been on Broadway. It was a challenge for all our actors, as it was necessary to portray a diverse number of emotions to deliver the intent of the writer appropriately. It did meet with some skepticism of some members and even our director initially, but we are delighted with the quality of the performances of our actors.
This year Other Desert Cities received seven Desert Star Nominations. We are all extremely proud of the caliber of talent we have within our club and this community. The nominations included: Overall Production, Outstanding Director – Darryl Jacobs, Outstanding Lead Actress – both Jan Briggs and Donna Parrish, Outstanding Supporting Actor – Michael Goldman, Outstanding Supporting Actress – Eileen Heckel, and Outstanding Set Design – Marlys Costello. Normally there is a special dinner and awards presentation in October, but this year the announcement of the winners will happen online.
If you did not have the opportunity to view this play live last November, you are in luck! A video recording of the production has been posted on our website as part Lifestyle’s “Stay Connected” page.
Below is an overview of the storyline with some photos from our production.
Other Desert Cities – A Drama by John Robin Baitz
It is Christmas Eve, 2004, and the Wyeth family is beginning to gather in Palm Springs, California. Polly and Lyman are the parents of Brooke Wyeth, who lives in New York writing for a magazine. She is coming home this holiday after six years of not seeing the family. Silda, who is Polly’s sister, also makes a visit now that she is out of rehab. At one point, Polly and Silda wrote an MGM television series, but the sisters became mad at each other and stopped seeing the other because they looked at the world in a different way from one another. At one point, Brooke had a younger brother, Henry, who committed suicide. She felt that it would be a good time to once again bring up what happened.
Brooke is struggling with becoming independent from her parents, as they don’t want her to return back to New York. She wants to make a memoir for her brother that died, but her parents don’t want to be reminded of it. She finally decides that she is going to do it whether or not they like it, not caring if they ever speak to her again. Lyman, for the first time ever, speaks up about the truth of his son’s death. He feels like he contributed to it after he slapped his son for a reason that now seemed silly. He wasn’t being supportive to him and feels he led Henry to his death.
This dark secret shared, the whole family is mournful. Brooke, at the point of desperation, throws her memoir into the air and screams of her mental suffering that she has endured ever since Henry's death. An epilogue shows that, after the death of Lyman and Polly, the memoir is published and Brooke wonders when she will see Henry again.
The name Other Desert Cities comes from a sign that Brooke saw when driving to California, telling of Indio, California, and all of the other cities that “don’t really matter.”