Other Desert Cities Cast Q&A: Emily Gilson
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Q. You play the role of Brooke Wyeth, the protagonist in Peace Mountain Theatre Company’s production of Other Desert Cities. At the root of this role is the conflict between speaking truth or divulging family secrets. How does Brooke navigate this difficult path?
EG: It's a really fine line and it is hard. Brooke was deeply affected by this very dark incident that occurred as a child and as Brooke, I really do feel, on some level, that I have an obligation to deal with it so that I have some sense of, I guess, normalcy. I don't think the intent to go public in the book is malicious; at least, maybe not consciously. The Wyeths are deeply private people in their personal lives, and they're moneyed, so they can safely hide behind that, but Brooke, being a writer, is by nature the antithesis of that. She's a novelist and introspective and I think studied journalism in college - it's in her interests to deal in understanding people. And the conflict with her family and their history is part of her way of coping with that.
Q.The family tragedy concerning the disappearance of her older brother occurred when Brooke was a young child. She is now about 40 years old. Why do you think she is so consumed with this loss, more than 30 years later?
EG: I think at the core she's still struggling to understand it. Certainly her parents, being who they are, did not get her therapy - she had to come to that on her own, as an adult, and her coming to that happened gradually. We had a suicide in my own family ten years ago, when I was 19 - you really don't ever get closure on these things, even when you're old enough to rationally understand - I still think about that person and their immediate family all the time. I still have questions I don't expect to get answered. So imagine what the weight of this is like for a kid, when you don't yet understand loss, or that, culturally, there is SO much stigma - and Brooke's family did NOT talk about it with her when she needed them to.
I think it's also jarring - Brooke was the only girl, and the middle child, which is an awkward place to be anyway, and then suddenly she's thrust into the position of oldest sibling and had to totally re-navigate all her relationships to the world. That stuff takes a lifetime to learn, it's affected her adult relationships - her marriage didn't last, and it probably stems from a lot of this. So, her struggle for closure really is because she needs something to hold onto. She has had to spend 30 years, which is most of her life, learning how to ground herself. She's not always in a good head space, or what we might call a "stable" person. She works hard to be self-aware behind this facade of being "okay," -- and quite often, she misses.
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