Velocity of Autumn Will Play Arena Stage Prior to Broadway; DC Season Includes Kathleen Turner, Lawrence Wright and More

By Kenneth Jones
26 Feb 2013

Estelle Parsons
Estelle Parsons

Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn, a new play starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, previously announced for a spring Broadway launch, will instead begin at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, this fall for what's billed as a pre-Broadway engagement.

Arena artistic director Molly Smith, who will direct The Velocity of Autumn, announced the company's 2013-14 season on Feb. 26. The 10-title lineup includes four world premieres, Kathleen Turner in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children (directed by Smith in spring 2014), the musical Smokey Joe's Café and more. This will be Arena's fourth season in the three-venue Mead Center for American Theater.

The Velocity of Autumn, booked for Sept. 6-Oct. 20 in the Kreeger Theater, is billed this way: "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 sweet, 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."

The 64th season's world premieres are Love in Afghanistan by American Voices New Play Institute Resident Playwright Charles Randolph-Wright; Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright's Camp David, directed by Smith as part of Arena Stage's American Presidents Project (this one's about President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn hosting Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in an attempt to create peace in the Middle East); MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Liz Lerman's theatrical dance piece Healing Wars featuring narrator Bill Pullman ("Independence Day," "1600 Penn"); and a presentation of Tectonic Theater Project's production of The Tallest Tree – A Portrait of Paul Robeson, written and performed by Daniel Beaty under the direction of Moises Kaufman.



The season also has a new Todd Kreidler adaptation of the classic American story Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, directed by Tony Award nominee Kenny Leon (Broadway's Stick Fly); Tappin' Thru Life featuring Tony Award nominee Maurice Hines (of Arena's popular Sophisticated Ladies) and directed by Jeff Calhoun; and two productions from the writer and director Randy Johnson — a previously announced return engagement of One Night with Janis Joplin and a new production of the musical revue Smokey Joe's Café.

For more information, visit arenastage.org.