"Death in Autumn" is an original play by Erin Dahl and directed by Jason Williams, premiering at the Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre!
Autumn 2019, Edison, NJ. When the beloved matriarch of the Sheehan-Tramontano family dies, its estranged members with their drastically different religious perspectives and political leanings are forced to reunite and establish precisely what kind of send-off Grandma Betsy deserves. A dark comedy that is meant to represent the deep division that exists in our country today. Is America dying because we all suck? And can it be saved? Sometimes it takes death to make us realize what really matters.
A note from the playright:
I’m not a pessimist at all and am still totally hoping we all pull through, but the world seems f*cked right now. I thought it was bad at the beginning of the pandemic when I wrote this play, but somehow it has managed to spiral into an even greater unmitigated disaster. My hope is we can at least find something to laugh about as we reflect upon it, even though it isn’t funny itself.
“Death” in Autumn refers symbolically to the 2020 Presidential Election, where in a sense the death of the USA, or in the case of this play, Grandma Betsy, occurred. Not because of who did or didn’t win, but because it was clear at that point that the states of America were no longer united.
We are beyond the point where people just lack basic respect for each other. It trickles down into our everyday lives. Oftentimes it is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or simply just not agreeing with others’ viewpoints. If you don’t agree with me on a topic, you’re a horrific villain, and I CANNOT and WILL NOT exist alongside you. The characters in this play do not represent anyone in real life; they are imagined solely to represent this division.
Daily mass shootings, crippling inflation, high gas prices, lack of baby formula; it all hangs over our heads every day. Doesn’t society deserve better? Isn’t society essentially supposed to be like a big—and at times very dysfunctional—family? In the end, are we going to “pull through”?
I can’t help but think as all of this goes on….
What if we loved each other in the same unconditional way our grandmas loved us?
The woman who knew all our flaws yet was convinced we didn’t have any, who would tell us, “You deserve the very best,” and then clandestinely slip us a 20, smiling and wedging it in our hand when we refused.
The woman who sent us cards on every birthday and holiday, underlining phrases in the card she felt were pertinent, cards that only stopped when she did.
The woman who waited at the door and waved until we were out of sight every time we drove away.
Would that be enough to get us out of it? Is that kind of love enough?