"The Velocity of Autumn" Q&A with Kristin L. Mack
Welcome to the second installment of our Q&A featuring the cast and crew of Redwood Curtain’s production of The Velocity of Autumn, written by Eric Coble. Today we’re featuring the show’s director, Kristin L. Mack.
Plays: February 26 – March 21
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm. Sunday matinee on March 15 at 2pm.
Alexandra, an 80-year-old artist, is in a showdown with her family over where she’ll spend her remaining years. She’s barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. Her estranged son Chris returns after 20 years, crawls through Alexandra’s second-floor window and becomes the family’s unlikely mediator. A wickedly funny and wonderfully touching discovery of the fragility and ferocity of life.
“Bracing, honest, and deliciously funny.” – NY Times
What other shows have you directed for Redwood Curtain?
The last show I directed here was last year’s season opener, Making God Laugh, which was another family dramedy. Interestingly, the very first show I directed here, For Better, was also by Eric Coble. The only two Eric Coble plays that have been here and I’ve directed both.
What are the differences between the two Coble plays?
For Better had a much larger cast. I believe it was six and it was more of a farce. The challenge in that show was that everybody was on cell phones all the time, and they were rarely in the same room. Because there were so many interlacing conversations, and the lines didn’t necessarily follow in the right order. We had to drill on that to get the timing right, including practicing each night before the show.
Eric Coble has such a gift for comedic writing. He has these hilariously bizarre phrases. One of the ones from For Better was, “You’re not the most ant free picnic, Francine.” That was great. In this one there’s a whole speech about gorgonzola cheese. He’s got these distinctive catch phrases that just stick with you. He also has very true to life dialogue.
What drew you to the show?
I’m on the script selection committee here and Peggy sent this one to me and she said something like “this is a comedy with guts” and I think that’s very accurate. There’s a certain comedic element to it, but there’s a lot of drama in it that’s very heartfelt. These characters are very relatable because who hasn’t had to deal in some way with an aging parent, grandparent or someone in their life. Or, they may have been there themselves. It’s a very human story. I’ve certainly seen things like that in my own experience. The show’s got a perfect blend of comedy, poignancy and drama.
Any particular challenges in doing this show that you’ve had to tackle.
Mixing the comedy and drama, and finding the right blend, is a challenge in a show like this. You don’t want to play it too over-the-top comedic, but you need the moments of lightheartedness so that people aren’t seriously depressed. From a directing perspective, the worry is when it’s a two person is they are both on stage the entire time. In some ways, certain challenges go away, no worries about quick costume changes, for example. The flip side of that is making sure it’s engaging and that the pace is where it needs to be because it is just the two of them. I’ve been very cognizant of that throughout the process.
What do you hope people take away from the show?
First and foremost, I hope they’re entertained. I want them to feel like they’ve shared in some kind of collective experience. The story is applicable to so many people. I’d like for people to feel like they’re not alone in having to deal with these kinds of things and that there can be some beauty while you’re dealing with these things.