Set in Palm Springs California during the Christmas season in 2004, the title of playwright’s Jon Robin Baitz’s thought-provoking play, Other Desert Cities, refers to both a popular California interstate sign and a distant desert war zone. Baitz’s suggested duality of the play’s location permits one to consider familial responsibilities and political allegiances. In a PBS 2013 interview withentitled In ‘Other Desert Cities,’ a Family History Lush in Secrets, the playwright stated,
“…(O)ne of the reasons it’s called Other Desert Cities is because I am thinking about, as someone says in the play, a war is going on thousands of miles away in another desert. It had occurred to me that there had a been of kind of thing that I’m most interested in the world called complacency. There had been a division politically in which the neocons very quickly supplanted older voices within the GOP, and a lot of people I knew who were more conservative had not really taken it in. And I realized though their concerns were actually about their economic well-being really. But the party was different from the one. And that’s sort of the one that was in power at the time, and I think that was a big part of thinking in the play.”
Hence, the play offers an opportunity for the characters to consciously connect with “familiar territory” while seemingly expressing immunity to the country’s war efforts and personal sacrifices.
Did you know?
The location of the play is Palm Springs, California. Click to learn about the “other desert cities” and view demographic information.