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Crimes of the Heart

Crimes of the Heart
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Staff Pick!
Author: Beth Henley
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 106
Pub. Date: 1982
ISBN-10: 0822202506
ISBN-13: 9780822202509
Cast Size: 4 female, 2 male

About the Play:

Winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

Crimes of the Heart has long been a favourite of acting teachers for female monologues, female/female scenes, and male/male scenes.

Crimes of the Heart is a full-length comedic drama by Beth Henley. Three eccentric, disaster-prone sisters come together after one shoots her husband. During the course of a week the sisters unearth grudges, criticize each other, reminisce about their family life, and attempt to understand their mother's suicide years earlier. Crimes of the Heart is a sharply funny play about the sometimes frayed edges of sisterly bonds.

Crimes of the Heart teems with humanity and humour as it examines the plight of three young sisters betrayed by their passions. The Magrath sisters have trouble with men. The scene is Hazlehurst, Mississippi, where the three sisters have gathered to await news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital. Lonely Lenny, the oldest sister, who stayed home to care for their grandfather in his later years, is unmarried at thirty and facing diminishing marital prospects; failed singer/actress Meg, the middle sister, who left home to pursue fame and fortune as a singer, is back after a failed career in Hollywood; while Babe, the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her abusive husband in the stomach. Alone, each woman might call it quits. Together, the Magrath sisters have to deal with Babe's crime as well as their personal and shared crimes of the heart. In the end Crimes of the Heart is the story of how its young characters escape the past to seize the future – but the telling is so true and touching and consistently hilarious that it will linger in the mind long after the curtain has descended.

Crimes of the Heart is an astonishing first play, initially presented in 1978 by the Actors Theatre of Louisville, then off-Broadway in 1979, and then on Broadway in 1981 where it established the author as a major voice in American theatre. Crimes of the Heart won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play. Beth Henley was nominated for a Tony Award for the play, and her adaptation for film was nominated for an Oscar as Best Adapted Screenplay. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in repertory, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 female, 2 male

What people say:

"While this play overflows with infectious high spirits, it is also, unmistakably, the tale of a very troubled family. Such is Miss Henley's prodigious talent that she can serve us pain as though it were a piece of cake." — New York Times

"It has heart, wit and a surprisingly zany passion that must carry all before it … it would certainly be a crime for anyone interested in the theatre not to see this play." — New York Post

"From time to time a play comes along that restores one's faith in our theatre…." — New York Magazine

About the Playwright:

Beth Henley is an award-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and professor best known for her play Crimes of the Heart (Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play). Her plays have been produced on Broadway and continue to be well-received and widely popular, both in professional and regional theatres throughout the United States as well as internationally and translated into twelve languages.

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