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Estelle Parsons inThe Velocity of Autumn

SEP 6 – OCT 20, 2013

By Eric Coble

Directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith

in the Kreeger Theater

Exclusive Pre-Broadway Engagement

In a simple Brooklyn brownstone, 79-year-old Alexandra lives a solitary existence 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, Alexandra's long-absent son enters as a most unlikely mediator, to try and save his mother's life as much as his own. Funny and dangerous, aching and revelatory, this perceptive play reveals both the fragility and ferocity of life. Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde, Roseanne) and two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Spinella (Angels in America)make their Arena Stage debuts.

Estelle Parsons Stephen Spinella
Estelle Parsons Stephen Spinella

played with wonderful grit and wit by the great actress Estelle Parsons.”

The New York Times

More than enough surprises and layers
to make for a satisfying theatrical experience. Smith guides it fluently.”

The Baltimore Sun

”SUBLIME … Parsons delivers a delightfully nuanced performance.”


under Molly Smith's unassailable direction.”

The Washington Post

“Wickedly funny and wonderfully touching … Molly Smith has done a solid job directing.”

“ELECTRIC ... You could not have asked for a more perfect actress than Parsons.”DC Theatre Scene

“FUNNY, ABRASIVE, AND FIERCE. Spinella … is flawless.”Washingtonian

"5 stars. Beautiful Storytelling.”DC Metro Arts

The idea of roots over one's lifespan is fascinating to me. Over the course of the "Alexandra Plays" I explored Alex (A Girl's Guide To Coffee) in her 20's with no ties to anything, totally free and uncommitted in the face of a family and body that are urging her to put down roots. Then Alexa in Stranded On Earth, in her 40's, grappling with the fact that her greatest joys and deepest tragedies have come from the roots of her children, career, aging parents, the whole shebang. And finally in The Velocity of Autumn we find Alexandra at 80 clinging desperately to the world she has committed to, even in the face of her family and her own body urging her to let go. One woman, one artist dancing with responsibility and the lure of passion over a lifetime. I've been delighted with how audiences have responded to this: "That's my mom," "That's my kid," "That's me." If coming into Alexandra's bomb-strewn home for an evening can further our conversation … I suspect that would make her very happy. Secretly so, perhaps. But very happy.

— Eric Coble

Velocity of Autumn is generously sponsored by Beth Newburger Schwartz & Richard Schwartz.

The Velocity of Autumn