Andrew Grenier

Other Desert Cities

WICA opens ‘Other Desert Cities’ on Friday, Feb. 13

Set in Palm Springs, Brooke Wyeth is the troubled daughter of a prominent California family, who comes home for the holidays after a six-year absence. She presents her family with her about-to-be-published memoir exposing a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history ─ a wound they don't want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it.

American playwright Jon Robin Baitz said he’d rather drink hemlock than harangue an audience with liberal pieties.

A finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Baitz’s Other Desert Cities involves a family with differing political views and a long-held family secret. But, Baitz said his play is more about humility than politics.

Andy Grenier directs (and acts in) the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts’ production, which opens Feb. 13 and runs through Feb. 28. “Jon Robin Baitz was a student of mine years ago in New York so I am delighted with the success of his play. It’s a well-crafted play with wonderfully developed characters. Each of the characters is strong enough to be the lead in a story of their own, this one happens to be about Brook,” said Grenier.

Deana Duncan plays Brooke, and said the cast talked a lot about the code of ethics demanded of a writer. “This play for me is about the cost of telling the truth and then realizing I (Brooke) didn't know the truth,” Duncan said. “It’s about the courage and strength it takes to finally stop trying to please everyone and finally just say what needs to be said.”

Brooke’s mother, Polly Wyeth, is not having it. Polly considers the book’s publication to be a betrayal of her friends-with-the-Reagans family “that has so valued discretion and our good name.”

Meanwhile, Polly's sister Silda is also visiting, after having spent some time in rehab. Polly and her former American Ambassador husband Lyman are Republicans, while Silda is a liberal. Privately, Silda tells Brooke to stand by her book.

“Don’t back down. You’ll win because you have ideas, and they only have fear,” Silda tells her.

Baitz said he wrote the play to explore what happens when a writer uses one’s life to create something. He says Brooke gets a lot of it wrong and has to deal with that; that she may not know everything she thought she knew about her parents and family. The play, he said, is about what we think we know about everybody and “the absolute un-knowableness of things.”

Whatever it is, this play contains all the makings of an engaging evening: high drama, comic relief, and great repartee written by one of America’s best, living playwrights.

The play shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and at 2 p.m. Sundays; Feb.13 through Feb. 28. Tickets are $22 for adults; $18 for seniors; $15 for youths; $15 for everyone at any matinee.

The cast includes Deana Duncan (Brooke), Andy Grenier (director, Lyman Wyeth), Shelley Hartle (Polly Wyeth), Heather Oglivy (aunt Silda), and David Mayer (brother Trip). Lucy Pearce is associate director, Steve Ford is the stage manager, Patty Mathieu designs the lights, costumes are by Mira Steinbrecher, Tyler Raymond is the technical director and Chandra Sadro and Jim Scullin will design the set.

Click Here for Online Purchases.
Online tickets are available until noon the day of the show.
For tickets by phone, call the Box Office at 800.638.7631 or 360.221.8268.
You can also buy tickets in person at the Box Office at 565 Camano Ave in Langley between 1 and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, or two hours before any show.

Notes from Last Night's Audition Workshop

WICA hosted our 14th annual Audition Workshop last night taught by Andrew Grenier.

We've compiled the 'take away" notes and hope you'll enjoy reading them as we consider an ongoing "What are You Working On" workshop for actors.

WICA Season Auditions are next week, please call or write to sign up. We'd love to see you!

Big thank YOU to Andy for a great class!

Whidbey Island Center for the Arts

Audition Workshop with Andrew Grenier, August 6, 2014 at 7pm

Take Aways:

Andy was very clear that these are his ideas, what works for him and by no means the absolute truth for everyone. He encouraged all actors to read more plays, read a few Auditioning books and audition audition audition. Strong encouragement to always “keep a few pieces in your pocket” so we dont freak out when auditions come up…reminding us that “we are what we do not what we say.”

He is looking for:

        Show me a skill set that makes me want to work with you.

        Dont put barriers in your way, on Whidbey Island if you need to hold your monologue because the memorization isnt all there, hold the monologue. Help yourself.

        Be present, honest dont try to convince the director, just show

        Dont defuse your energy, no pacing, unnecessary placement of furniture. Own the space

        Choose material in your range, choose strong plays from great playwrights. (Help yourself )

        Choose pieces that give you something to DO

        Choose a piece that tells a story, has a beginning, a middle and an end. Read the play, know what has happened before and after what youve just done

        Do not choose a piece from the play you are auditioning for.

        Do not use pieces these directors have seen you do before, get new work!

        Stay on time, you will be stopped and its horrible

        Pay close attention to that audition sheet, dont be cute on it, dont skip anything, give them as much information as you can. Be honest about conflicts.

        Always slate give your name and the name of the material including playwright (know the playwright!)

        Understand the space, DC is strongest but you can introduce and then move into that space as a way to show body awareness.

        Remember you are auditioning from the moment you walk in the theatre

After an audition answer for yourself:

        What did you like about what just happened

        What would you do differently

        Do you want feedback-okay to reach out and ask for that but not in a negative way like, I was great, why didnt you cast me?


Question and answers:

“What mistakes have you seen”  - Andy talked a bit about the occasional presumptuousness of actors; that we know the directors and each other, and rely on that rather than our skills. Hed like to see all of us us come in more professionally. No bullshit. Pay attention to the items mentioned above. Breathe, ground yourself, own the space. Say thank you.

Dressing for Auditions:  Think about the character but dont come in full costume, can always dress towards the character to help the director and yourself.

Accents: Best left for callbacks and individual conversations with director. Just showcase YOU

How to prep: Consider beginning a local “What are you Working On Workshop” keep everybody fresh. Pick a piece that shows off YOU,  practice, rehearse, be confident


Download the PDF version of these notes here.