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Autumn Elegy

For over 50 years, Ceil and Manny have lived in rural isolation. Retreating from a world destroyed by the Crash of '29, they built a home and evolved between them elegant rituals centered on work, shared possessions and individual involvement. But Ceil is dying. She faces incapacity and must seek the help of strangers or surrender dignity and independence to the husband who would become her caretaker. At what point can a relationship no longer change? With lyrical emotional ferocity, Autumn Elegy explores the outer boundaries of human intimacy and leave-taking.

Praise for Autumn Elegy

"The Other Stage season ended with another powerhouse duet when Ruth Nelson and E.G. Marshall appeared in Autumn Elegy. A legend of American stage and screen, Marshall played a 76-year-old man who faced the prospect of life without his beloved wife. Playing against the dignified image that so many associated with him, Marshall was remarkable, expressing a range of emotions and allowing us to glimpse his vulnerability." WTF's 50 Years: A Personal Recollection by Ralph Hamman - September 08, 2004

Who needs to do it right, when you do it well?  In Autumn Elegy, her quietly tender drama of love and old age, Charlene Redick makes the rules of good playwrighting seem utterly irrelevant.  Like the potter tired of the same old symmetrical curves, Redick has given Autumn Elegy a perversely idiosyncratic shape. The heartbreak in Autumn Elegy is quiet, and in an odd way comforting. Laswell slumps weeping and March softly folds him in her arms. It engulfs the theater: a feeling sad and despairing and whole and cleansing and warm.  Theatre doesn't do that very often, and when it does, it's as real and revitalizing as an embrace.  - Bob Hick The Oregonian, March 1992.

"Sensommer (Autumn Elegy)" at Det Danske Teater is a difficult text and the idling may keep many away, but ultimately they will cheat themselves."  Ekstra Baldet, Copenhagen, Denmark September 24, 1991

"…A writer of great depth of feeling and clarity of expression.  She is a theatrical poet of the intimate act." Michael Montel, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University May 29, 1990

"At what point can a relationship no longer change? With lyrical emotional ferocity, "Autumn Elegy" explores the outer boundaries of human intimacy and leave-taking." Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival, Playbill notes - 1989.

"Writing of uncommon tenderness and grace. ….the sky above. Redick is a beautiful writer…content with very little dialogue…choosing instead silences.  She dares sentiment.  No one could fail to be moved." Lawrence Devine, Theater critic. The Detroit Free Press April 9, 1989

E.G. Marshall in Charlene Redick's Autumn Elegy Ruth Nelsonl in Charlene Redick's Autumn Elegy Ruth Nelsonl in Charlene Redick's Autumn Elegy


"Ms. Redick's ''Autumn Elegy'' is a quiet, understated play about an elderly, reclusive country couple facing the imminent death of the wife. Filled with pauses, ''Autumn Elegy'' has moments of poignancy." - Mel Gussow, Special to The New York Times, April 5, 1989

"The other play of promise  . . . Charlene Redick's slight but touching "Autumn Elegy" depicts a man long withdrawn from the world and his protective wife, now fatally ill."  William A. Henry III, TIME April 9, 1989  

"Writing of disarming purity and chasteness. The staying power of simplicity...went straight to the heart. The ring of truth, the straightforwardness of life and death.  Requires confidence in the audience's patience.   A play full of potential and a production that found a great deal of it. " Terry Morris The Dayton Daily News July 25, l987

"A Class Act.  There are no sufficient words to describe the final bittersweet moments of this drama about a married couple who face the end of their life together.  The playwright's patience and diligence paid off handsomely, the audience wept openly and applauded warmly" Saint Petersburg Times April, 1989

"One of the most affecting works in the History of the Humana Festival." William Mootz theatre critic, Louisville Courier April, 1989

Feminist Theater – Paloma Pedrero and Charlene Redick
Paloma Pedrero and Charlene Redick both seek to move beyond the expectations and limitations that stifle both male and female.  Though these themes cut across gender boundaries, they are presented from the female perspective of their creators, one that offers a counterpoint to the male which has dominated both theater and life in the Western world - Patricia Welch - A Degree Paper presented to the Committee on Graduate Programs - Reed College - In partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

"Ms. Redick writes to reveal and heal." Jon Jory, Artistic Director, Actors Theater of Louisville/Humana Festival of New American Plays April, 1989


By Joe Adcock P-I Theater Critic
WEDNESDAY, April 5, 1989 

Ever since the Depression, Manson and Cecelia Litchfield, the protagonists of "Autumn Elegy," have lived in a primitive backwoods cabin. For 50 years they have subsisted. They live without plumbing, but with $104,000.32 in savings, hundreds of shares of blue-chip stocks and a stamp collection worth $500,000. Cecelia has cancer. A neighbor comes by for a game of chess with Manson. A social worker comes by to take Cecelia to a hospital. Manson is petulant and stricken. Redick's tone is elegiac indeed. The dialogue incorporates wisps of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Percy Shelley. The autumnal look of the stage, with heaps of fallen leaves, is a warning. A conventional happy ending would be, like leaves jumping back onto branches, most unnatural. But "Autumn Elegy" is full of affectionate, wistful charm. Gwyllum Evans as Manson and Carmen Mathews as Cecelia are expressive in roles that require the eloquence of the unsaid.

Other Plays by Charlene Redick

Providence Convent – Amelia, the daughter of a lay theologian, is placed in a convent in New Orleans upon her mother's death, and there confronts her faith, the role of women and the constraints put upon us in life as she comes of age under the guardianship of her strict governess, Sister Genevieve.

"Providence Convent", a warmly attractive work . . . struck the audience with almost physical force.  One's usual passivity simply was not allowed. Perfect." Allen Swafford Theatre Critic - Montgomery Advertiser/Journal 1992

Holding Back the Night – College Students Respond to the Coming Anarchy – students in a college writing class speak out about the life they live, the world they are inheriting and the fears they face upon graduation.  


A Sonnet for Sarajevo - Three pen pals from the Sarajevo Olympics—an American girl, a Bosnian girl and a Serbian boy—enter puberty and adolescence and maintain their friendship through letters over the years until they face heartbreak as Yugoslavia falls.

Moving North – Across the Mason/Dixon line—a playwright and a director meet through letters over the work they are doing on her play.  Their relationship develops over their love of theatre and New York City, but is complicated by their northern and southern takes on the world and the drama instigated in large part by their alter egos.

Lamentations of a Texas Wanton – Informed by telephone that her daughter has attempted and survived suicide (She has run her car into an interstate abutment outside of the college town of Austin, Texas.), Clarice One literally flies from Knoxville to Austin--reviewing her own life while aloft—in a desperate effort to hold on to her child until she can gain the strength to bring herself back to life and its responsibilities. "This story almost flies off the page."  Brad Vice—a fellow student in Fiction Workshop at the University of Tennessee's writing program.


The Confinement –As a mother of two small children, Lola faces an unplanned pregnancy--thinking that the complications of her pregnancy and her life will defeat her.  Through the nine months of gestation, the unborn son begs her to sweep him from her womb rather than allow him to be born into a world that is so hostile to children.  The father/husband, Mike, pounds the cage Lola has made from an old elevator in their home, and screams at her to allow his son to be born.  By giving the fetus a voice, Ms. Redick illuminates the politics of reproduction and the ethics of parenthood in a way no one has ever done before.

Assault and Assuagement – A young man kidnaps a young woman for the purpose of rape and sexual captivity.  She talks him out of it and reaches out beyond his degenerate assault to touch and claim the tortured person that he is.

Marriage Erotica – A husband traces the scars of his wife's mastectomy while giving her all the reasons they should continue living and making love.

The Pilgrimage – Two college bound young people—he off to the University of Alabama and she off to Yale--decide to travel to Monroeville, Alabama two weeks before they leave for college to seek advice and inspiration from Harper Lee, the illustrious author of To Kill a Mockingbird.