The international flavor of Jon Robin Baitz’s plays, which span locales such as Southern California, South Africa, London, New York, Morocco, the Virgin Islands, and Mexico, grows out of Baitz’s family life. Born in Los Angeles to a father who was an executive with the international division of Carnation Milk Company and a mother who was “a larger-than-life-Auntie Mame type,” Baitz, from the age of seven to seventeen, lived in Brazil, England, and South Africa. When he returned to Los Angeles, he finished high school but decided against college because being a student seemed unreal and attending college, evasive. When his parents moved to Holland, he continued his travels, using their home as a base, and worked at various odd jobs: as a short-order cook, a tractor driver on a kibbutz, and a painter of an art gallery at The Hague.
He found himself a professional eavesdropper and, as a result of his intense preoccupation with listening to other people, developed into an “elevated yenta.” While deciding to be “out of the loop” and thinking of starting a small publishing company or buying a vineyard, he worked temporarily for a film producer as a “sort of” phone answerer. Out of this experience, he wrote a theater piece, Mizlansky/Zilinsky, a one-act play about two seedy Hollywood hustlers, and suddenly found himself to be a playwright. Fourteen years later he turned the play into a full-length work.
Leaving the United...
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