Skip to content

San Diego

San Diego is an epic, disconnected dream narrative or fantasia which takes place inside the playwright’s head in the twenty or so minutes between the announcement that the plane he is on is due to land in San Diego and the plane actually touching down. A series of stories emerge and wind around each other – the pilot witnesses a stabbing on the streets of San Diego and the repercussions force him to examine his life. His self harming daughter, in a psychiatric hospital, forges a fragile love affair with an ADHD boy. Two illegal immigrants working in America adopt a strange and dangerous boy who has flown to San Diego in the plane’s wheel casings. A team of consultants designing plane interiors want to reinvent the way we fly. A film stars wife decides to become a nun. And in the middle of all of this, the character of the playwright David Greig tries to work out why one of his characters has killed him.

David A: A person needs to know where they are, where they’re going
and what time it is.
But when people fly they feel like they’ve lost these moorings,
They feel anxious.
And this anxiety acts as a disinsentive to air travel.
Nobody wants to feel anxious.
We want to feel safe, on earth.
But in reality – time and place no longer exist in the world.
There is no time in the city.
There is no place on the high street.
The safety of the ground is an illusion.
Co-ordinated universal time – aeroplane time – is the only
time we experience which never changes.
The cabin of the aircraft is the only space where we can be
certain that we belong – we have a ticket with our name on it.
On the seat in front of us there is a map which shows us clearly
where we are going.
And we are going forwards.

“I wrote San Diego during a one month residency at Hawthornden Castle near Edinburgh. The month began with a heavy snowfall and I remember leaning out of my cold tower room to smoke, looking out at the barren trees, and listening to the drip of the snowmelt. There was a rule of daytime silence at the castle with the result that, for a month, I lived almost entirely in my own head. I committed myself to writing the first thing that came into my mind without questioning it – I wanted to throw myself entirely on the mercy of my subconscious. This was the result”. DG

Title: San Diego
Premier Place and Date:
Edinburgh International Festival 2003
Director and Producing Company: David Greig and Marisa Zanotti, Tron/Edinburgh International Festival
Publication Details: Faber ISBN 0571221947
Translation Details: Danish, German, Italian, Portuguese, French
Foreign Performances: Danish National Theatre ’03, Germany ’04, Vancouver ’05, Lyon 06
Awards, Prizes: Best New Play – Tron Theatre Awards, Herald Angel
Characters: 22 (Male – 7  Female – 4)