by Molly Smith, Artistic Director
The Velocity of Autumn is a universal story being played out in living rooms and around kitchen tables all across America, as the elderly grapple with the loss of who they are – ‘the gracelessness of old age.’ Eric Coble’s play gives hope where there doesn’t appear to be any, in the strength of a love between a mother and a son. It’s also a play about truth and reconciliation as these two tell each other about who they actually are – not just who they’ve been told they are.
I find myself in the middle of some of the most powerful questions we face as human beings. What happens in a family when a parent begins to age? When do you step in to help a parent – particularly one who has always been stubbornly independent? How do you relinquish your own independence – even for your own good – when it’s what’s made you who you are? What do you do when you’re not you anymore? What happens when family members are unequally engaged? What about when outside forces – police, social services, doctors – get involved? Whose responsibility is it anyway?
In our play, 79-year-old Alexandra has barricaded herself in her brownstone, forcing her son Christopher to climb in the second story window to stop her from blowing it up with homemade Molotov cocktails. To say it is a serious situation is an understatement. The truly remarkable thing, though, about this play is that it is also extremely funny. The lengths Alexandra and Chris are determined to go to in order to get what they want allows the comedy to come tumbling out. Eric really has that magic touch.
To tell our story we have two of the finest actors working in America today: Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.
Estelle most recently appeared on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get it, Good People and August: Osage County. She’s an Oscar winner for Bonnie and Clyde, a four-time Tony Award nominee and has been inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.
Stephen is a two-time Tony Award winner for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika and comes to us straight from the set of USA Network’s television series Royal Pains.
I’ve often thought that new plays come into their own most fully by the second or third time they are produced – after being in the fire of a real audience – in front of strangers who have come to envelope themselves in the story. You are the real barometer.
There is an electricity between Alexandra and Chris, one I know you will enjoy as much as I have. I am so excited to share this play with you and, as Alexandra says; together we will find ‘the beauty of falling apart.’