Molly Smith directs The Velocity of Autumn at Arena Stage

Aug 8, 2013
Velocity of Autumn

The Velocity of Autumn, a new two-character play from Cleveland-based playwright Eric Coble, opens at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater under the direction of Artistic Director Molly Smith and by special arrangement with HOP Theatricals, LLC. Stage and screen veteran and Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde, Roseanne), whose illustrious career spans over 50 years, stars along with two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America, HBO's upcoming film The Normal Heart) in their Arena Stage debuts. The play introduces us to Alexandra, a 79-year-old woman living a solitary existence in her Brooklyn brownstone with her fleeting memories and enough explosives to take down most of the block. At an impasse with her family over how she should spend her autumn years, her long-absent son enters as an unlikely mediator. The Velocity of Autumn runs September 6-October 20, 2013 in the Kreeger Theater.

"I find myself in the middle of some of the most powerful questions we face as human beings," comments Smith, who directs The Velocity of Autumn as her first of three productions this season. "This story is being played out in living rooms all over America as the elderly grapple with the loss of who they are-'the gracelessness of old age.' What is this thing we call control and how long do we get to hold onto it? Eric Coble's powerful play asks these questions (and more) through two specific lives, and to tell our story we have two of the finest actors working in America today: Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella."

"As I was writing the play I suddenly saw Estelle Parsons in the role," shares Coble. "Nice fantasy, but unlikely to ever happen. Then when she said 'yes' and suggested Stephen Spinella for the other role, I thought 'Wow, what an electric evening that would be.' And now it's all going to happen. Molly clearly understands this story on a deep, deep level, and one of the real joys has been our year-long conversation about these characters and what they're capable of. The whole process has been head-spinningly thrilling."

Coble will be present during rehearsals surrounding this production as he continues to finalize the script for this new play. The show received its world premiere at Boise Contemporary Theater in Idaho in 2011 followed by a run at Beck Center for the Arts in Ohio in 2012, and conversations about the future of this production, including a potential run on Broadway, are ongoing. The Velocity of Autumn is the third in a trilogy of plays from Coble, known as the "Alexandra Plays," that also includes A Girl's Guide to Coffee and Stranded on Earth.