Autumn Elegy

by  Charlene Redick

Full Length Play, Drama  /  2m, 2f

"A wistful, thought-provoking tale." - New Albany Tribune

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    2m, 2f
  • Duration


    105 Minutes
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult
    • Senior

Additional Info

An elderly married couple, Manny and Ceil, live a spartan existence in a cabin in the woods, even though they are financially well-off due to Manny’s New York stock market investments. For over a half-century, Ceil has taken care of Manny, indulging his quirks and turning the bucolic cabin into a refuge against the world’s often harsh realities. Now, Ceil is dying of cancer, and Manny cannot accept the inescapable reality of her illness: that she must leave him to go into a hospital. He is selfish and irascible, yes, but he deeply loves his wife and knows that, once she is gone, he himself will cease to exist. This lovely drama with two superb roles for elderly performers was the surprise hit of the 1989 Humana Festival at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.
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"A wistful, thought-provoking tale." - New Albany Tribune

"The Other Stage season ended with another powerhouse duet when Ruth Nelson and E.G. Marshall appeared in Autumn Elegy." - WTF's 50 Years: A Personal Recollection

"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." - The Oregonian

"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 Bladet

"[...] 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

"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." - Playbill

"Writing of uncommon tenderness and grace [...] Redick is a beautiful writer [...] content with very little dialogue [...] choosing instead silences. She dares sentiment. No one could fail to be moved." - Detroit Free Press

"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." - The New York Times

"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." - TIME

"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." - Dayton Daily News

"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

"One of the most affecting works in the History of the Humana Festival." - Louisville Courier

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

"A quiet play set in the backwoods of Anywhere, USA,  Autumn Elegy is an experience both unusual and worthwhile, deliberately slow but often rewarding, if you can give yourself over to it." - Bangor Daily News


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Senior Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Church / Religious Groups
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: Contemporary, Present Day, 1990s, 1980s
  • Duration: 105 Minutes
  • Setting: Somehow, the stage should be transformed into a pastoral setting, a meadow that waxes and wanes with the seasons.  There is a well with a bucket, a porch swing hanging from a tree, the suggestion of a garden, a hen house, and a wood shed. The house is a hovel. That is all we could call it. It is not charming nor quaint.
  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Chorus Size: N/A (Not a musical)


2m, 2f
MANSON LITCHFIELD (MANNY) - 76, big, virile, and somewhat stooped
CECELIA LITCHFIELD (CEIL) - 72, contains some mystery, beautiful
ANNE MARIE CARRIGAN - 26, a medical social worker, pretty and of good breeding
CLAUDE SEVIER - 60, a neighbor and friend of longstanding
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Cast Attributes

  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
  • Parts for Senior Actors



Charlene Redick

Charlene Redick

Autumn Elegy was presented in its first professional production at the Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. It was directed by Gloria Muzio. The play was developed at the First Annual Actors' and Playwrights' Festival (Ohio), George Street Playhouse (New Jersey), and the Dayton Playhouse (Ohio). Subsequent productions include the International City Theatre in Long Beach, California, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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