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BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre Company

Addresses the Universal Importance of Family in our Lives

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre Company

Torrance Theatre Company's PLAY-AT-HOME series continues with Eric Coble's THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN, directed by Rachel Baumsten, streamed on November 1st at 6 pm, and then an encore presentation for 24 hours on-demand on Sunday, November 8th. The two-person play is a wickedly funny and wonderfully touching discovery of the fragility and ferocity of life, focusing on Alexandra (Karen Gebhard), a 79-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where she will spend her "autumn" years.

In Alexandra's corner are her wit, her volcanic passion, and the fact that she has barricaded herself in her brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. But her children have their own secret weapon in her estranged son, Chris (Matt Garber), who returns after many years and crawls through Alexandra's second-floor window, sent by his two siblings (who call him continuously for updates) to become the family's unlikely mediator for a non-violent resolution to their differing opinions.

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre CompanyGebhard and Garber sink their teeth and souls into these two roles, with each giving a thoroughly convincing portrayal of how their past family history, as well as their personality similarities, may just be the glue that can hold the entire family together. Their roles as parent and child often switch back-and-forth as tempers flare and reason escapes out the same window through which Chris launched himself to get back in his mother's life, overshadowed by the all-important tree that grows in front of the family's brownstone which may soon go up in flames.

The timely nature of the play, given how many seniors are now dealing with living alone in isolation which can lead to loneliness and depression to the point of feeling hopeless, THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN adds in a much-needed dose of how important it is to stay in touch and support our elderly family members who are struggling during our current on-going pandemic.

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre Company"I felt that this is something that so many can relate to," says Gia Jordahl, producing artistic director for the company, "with regards to aging parents, and how best to care for, and protect them in their remaining years. It's something that no one wants to think about, not the child dealing with their aging parent, and especially not the parent who is forced into this role reversal. But THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN gently and thoughtfully helps us face the realities of aging, the power of reconciliation, and the importance of being connected to one another."

Thanks to the brilliance of Eric Coble's dialogue, the skill of the actors, and insightful direction of Rachel Baumsten, the emotional impact faced by this mother and son, both with several loose ends dangling throughout their lives, packs a punch that will hit the heartstrings to anyone facing the prospect of having to decide what the best way is to give out your golden years, or what action to take if your personal desires don't match up with the rest of your family.

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre CompanyEspecially relevant to what is going on right now, when Chris asks Alexandra why she is willing to set the entire building on fire rather than live somewhere else for the rest of her life, the former painter admits that six months ago she noticed her ability to grip small things, such as a paintbrush, was failing. "All I can hold onto and use is this Zippo lighter left here by your father."

Sharing that now all she can do is watch the news on TV, and feeling "the world is ending and I am not living in my own country anymore," I found it especially heartwarming that her son Chris chooses that moment to remind her how much she loves the Arts, especially opera and visiting museums. Their chat about memories of visiting the Guggenheim together in the past turns out to be the key that opens the door to their family's future outside of Alexandra's home fortress. And right now, surely the Arts, even virtually or of a temporary nature, can play an important role in keeping our sanity alive during such trying times.

As memories are shared, the screen below the boxes in which the actors appear reflect the places and emotions experienced by Alexandra and Chris, thanks to Sophi Boylan and Rachel Baumsten's graphic design and Gia Jordahl's sound design, which added in a more full sense of physical reality as well as increasing the emotional pull of memories, often more happy than sad, from days gone by in all our lives.

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre Company

Company members and directors all volunteer their time and talent to bring the plays to life online, so audience members can enjoy from the comfort, and safety of their own homes. I encourage you to watch THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN with your family members during the 24 hours it streams on-demand on Sunday, November 8th, and hope the experience starts your own happy stroll together down memory lane.

Tickets for all PLAY-AT-HOME productions are $20, available for purchase online at Each patron will receive a private link allowing them access to the play. If you have questions, please call (424) 243-6882, and stay informed by visiting

BWW Feature: THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN at Torrance Theatre CompanyUpcoming plays in the series include:

Annapurna by Sharr White on Sunday, November 15th at 6pm

Beyond Glory by Stephen Lang from book by Larry Smith on Sunday, December 6th at 6pm

Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry on Sunday, December 13th at 6pm

A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play adapted for the stage by Joe Landry, Music by Kevin Connors on Sunday, December 20th at 6pm

The Torrance Theatre Company is a program of the Cultural Services Division of the Torrance Community Services Department. www.TorranceCA.Gov. Sponsored in part by Friends of Torrance Theatre Company.

Photos courtesy of Torrance Theatre Company

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From This Author Shari Barrett