"The Velocity of Autumn" Q&A with Bonnie Mesinger
Welcome to the first installment of our Q&A featuring the cast and crew of Redwood Curtain’s production of The Velocity of Autumn, written by Eric Coble and directed by Kristin L. Mack. Today we’re featuring Bonnie Messenger who plays Alexandra.
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
When were you last on the Redwood Curtain stage?
It was?Enchanted April. When I retired?from teaching at Humboldt, I started to do plays. I never had time for that when I was working, so I’ve done quite a few. I played Mrs. Graves in that show. I loved that because my husband’s name was Graves and I never took his name, so I finally got to be a Mrs. Graves somewhere.
Tell us about your character in?The Velocity of Autumn.
Alexandra?is 80?years old. She’s an artist, always interested in art. She’d been a sort of gad about the world, being on her own, single and loved doing things on her own. Then she met her husband, a teacher. They married, bought a house in Brooklyn. She had three children and she loves her children, but they were confining for her. She has this interior life that’s expressed through her painting, which her family life didn’t allow her to engage in. When the children were grown, that was great for her. Chris, the younger one, who Gary [Bowman] plays, is very much like her. He’s kind of off-the wall, doesn’t think in straight lines. He also gets dissatisfied and restless, not having been home in 20 years. Now, Alexandra?is physically decaying. The absolutely horrible thing for her is that she’s losing her memory. She doesn’t know where she is sometimes. Her memory is her soul, and she’s very freighted about losing that.
What attracted you to the show?
I just felt that after?last year, when I bowed out of two things because I felt not capable, that I should put myself to the test. I’ve never been on stage for an hour and half. It’s a real challenge. I’m not 80, but I am 70 and I know that I’m not as quick and that my memory isn’t what it was. But I’m not scared.
My friends are this age. I teach a senior aerobics class where they are 80 and 85, and I’m the youngster at 70. The kind of challenges Alexandra?is facing are ones we all face. I am afraid of getting old and dying and losing my physical capacities.
I’ve almost always said yes to things that have a personal connection to me. When I was in college I played Laura in?The Glass?Menagerie?and I was shy, retiring, little girl. My speech teacher, said “you will be in my play.” In the first play I did at Redwood Curtain,?Three Viewings, there were three of us and were in a funeral home and talking about the people connected to us. My character talked about her husband, and my husband had just died about six months before. I felt like there was that connection.
What do you hope audiences take away at the end of the performance?
That’s going to be up to each person. I think if it’s an older person, they can look at this and say “it’s not so bad, she’s doing it.” In the greek theater, theater was supposed to be a purgation of emotion to make you feel better at the end. There’s some laugher. There’s some scary stuff in terms of how the characters feel. Most of all, there’s a great love between the boy and his mother and I hope the audience feels that. I hope they get a full palette?of emotional experiences.