After Orange Is the New Black’s third season premiere, Beth Fowler returns to the Cape Playhouse in Dennis June 16-27 for the first two-hander of her long career. The Velocity of Autumn follows a 79-year-old woman whose children insist she move into a nursing home, driving her to mix Molotov cocktails and barricade herself in her home, until her estranged son’s visit turns the tables.
OITNB A bit, a bit. [Laughs] I never actually examined that parallel before. Both situations are so un-Beth-like. They just are. One of the reasons that I left teaching and went into the theater was that the teachers were threatening to go on strike. And I said, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t leave the classroom and have children not going to school. I’ll go into theater, and when all the dust settles, I’ll go back.” I was always a scaredy cat.
When you read the script, what made you want to take it on? I closed my iPad and I burst into tears. I have never, ever responded to a play like that. And it’s written like real people would talk, so I could hear the voices in my head, the conversation.
It will remind everybody that there is a human being in there that’s still probably 35 years old under all of this, the same person they were when they were playing tennis and could hop in the car and go someplace exotic. This gal traveled the world by herself when she was single. She’s a professional artist, a parent, and now her children are treating her like an elderly person, but a little more than she cares to recognize. She’s becoming frail, but the more they treat her as a frail person, she feels, the more frail she becomes.
You and one other person onstage for 90 minutes. Does that make you nervous? I’m more than very used to having people stare at me, and I don’t think it makes any difference. I started my career in my grandmother’s living room. I had a big Irish family, and my uncle played piano; we’d all sing, and that was my first audience.