Crimes of the Heart

Crimes of the Heart This drama in three acts won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in Set in a small Mississippi town the play examines the lives of three quirky sisters who have gathered back home During the course of

  • Title: Crimes of the Heart
  • Author: Beth Henley
  • ISBN: 9780822202509
  • Page: 479
  • Format: Paperback
  • This drama in three acts won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1981 Set in a small Mississippi town, the play examines the lives of three quirky sisters who have gathered back home During the course of the week the sisters unearth grudges, criticize each other, reminisce about their family life, and attempt to understand their mother s suicide years earlier.

    One thought on “Crimes of the Heart”

    1. In 1980 Beth Henley won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for her Crimes of the Heart, a three act character study about three sisters in small town Mississippi. Combined with Marsha Norman's Pulitzer for 'night, mother, Henley helped to usher in a new era for southern women's play writing. A compelling play with five distinct characters, Crimes of the Heart is memorable drama. Lenora "Lenny" McGrath is thirty and unmarried and living in her grandparents' Hazelhurst, Mississippi home. Brought up by h [...]

    2. Crimes of the Heart, the 1981 Pulitzer prize winning play from Beth Henley was also nominated for the 1982 Tony Award for a Broadway musical. A later film adaptation featured Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek. At one level this seems like a family version of Sartre’s No Exit, as each character seemed to have created her own hell that was made worse by complex interactions with the others. A better study, though, shows the strong, resilient endurance by the sisters and their ability [...]

    3. So schticky, I love it. Characters sticking heads in ovens because of a bad day, a woman shooting her husband because she didn't like his looks, an inexperienced lawyer claiming to be qualified to take the murder case because of a personal vendetta, characters laughing uncontrollably when they hear horrible news--it's as if this whole play was devised on the spot by a group of actors, and Beth Henley just wrote it all down. LENNY. Get out of here--CHICK. Don't you tell me to get out! What makes [...]

    4. Loved this play. That I played Lenny in our community theatre production of the show didn't hurt my love of it. ;-) It really is a heartwarming story of three sisters each dealing with their own personal demons and issues brought on by how they were treated when they were growing up. Although it appears to be stereotypically southern in humor and behavior, there is a depth,honesty and truth that underlies the relationships portrayed in this story/play

    5. What a great way to spend my morning! I saw a scene from this play performed recently and just had to read the play. Hilarious, heart-wrenching, and more hilarious. I'd love to see the whole play performed.

    6. I've always enjoyed this play, although it's difficult to perform with both humor and genuine emotion. Of course, we ruined it when we performed it in high school - but I still enjoyed the reading. (For the record, I played Meg.)

    7. Crimes of the Heart is a truly tender read about three sisters. Meg, Babe, and Lenny are brought back together when a real life crime drama hits a little too close to home.Meg the wild child of the sisters returns home after living "the dream" in California. She fled the small town of Hazlehurst, Mississippi in order to become a hit singer. The truth is she has long given up her career as a singer and has just finished an extended stay at the mental hospital.Lenny the responsible sister has been [...]

    8. I liked this one. Funny and depressing, all while being wrapped in love, no matter how distorted it gets. The three sisters are great, all different and distinct with great stories. There's a lot of hurt in this play, a lot of unforgiven pain that comes out at the drop of the hat. It was fun reading this and imagining how it would play out on stage, it has great potential to be an amazing show.It's funny (I cracked up at the Pecan scene) and there's a great levity to the more depressing moments. [...]

    9. Though I've known about this play since it came out in the early eighties, it wasn't until I was approached to direct it that I actually read it. What a gem! Henley definitely deserves her place in the canon of Southern playwrights. The play is starting to show signs of age, but the characters are timeless and extremely compelling. The women are clearly the stars of the show, but it never feels like a "chick flick" (for lack of a better phrase). Likewise, though it's very Southern, it transcends [...]

    10. my issue with this story (that apparently freaking won a Pulitzer) as that it seems to me that so many novels written in the 20th century by american female writters have such a similar style to them. The writting, the characters, the character development, the plots, the "vibe" in general, its all some what like valley of the dolls. Not too much diversity or orginality I think

    11. I enjoyed the dialect and the banter in this play, and who says all plays need a clear resolution? Apparently, there is a film version that I now might have to see.

    12. I read this for my Theatre class. I believe the theme of Crimes of the Heart is how families interact with each other and that no matter how irritating your family may be, they are still your family. With the central idea being family, Henley’s play looks into the relationships between the sisters by comparing and contrasting their lives. Today’s culture still views family life as an important role in society. This is especially true when you live in a small town and everyone knows everythin [...]

    13. On the one hand: damn, this is a fantastically written play. It's what my lighting mentor J dislikes most in plays: emotion-driven plot about women. A++. It does interesting stuff with class and gender - the two men who come onsstage are not the most important men in the plot, really: the director of the GEDS production described those more important men as 'forces of nature' offstage that the female protags have to deal with.However. However.One of those 'forces of nature' is a fifteen year old [...]

    14. To be fair to Crimes of the Heart, I’m not a fan of dysfunctional family dramas. While I occasionally like them, I mostly find them an overused and overtired ‘genre’ and think American theatre would be stronger if they steered clear of them for at least a decade. Find a new way to be creative, playwrights. And if you must rely on a dysfunctional family, use the dysfunction as a starting point rather than the primary plot. That’s what I thought Crimes of the Heart was going to do.The play [...]

    15. I read this play, originally, in my junior year of high school for a scene study class I was taking with Cheryl-Ann Rossi. I remember, initially, being shocked by all the "seemingly" innocent characters being so sexual, butw it seems normal. Age, I suppose, I was a late bloomer. Anyway, I still love the characters and it reminded me on this later read of Chekhov's THREE SISTERS. I also was surprised that the ending didn't work as well for me as it did in 1995I didn't care as much for Babe this t [...]

    16. As part of my research for finding monologues to perform in acting class this semester, Crimes of the Heart was one of the few where a monologue is spoken by a young female character (such a shame).While it was an enjoyable read, I found the language spoken by the characters a little difficult to get used to. I couldn't quite put my finger but the way the sisters interacted with each other, and Babe's personality, didn't quite mesh well for me in most scenes. Though I enjoyed how each sister was [...]

    17. Wonderfully intricate character/relationship writing between three very different sisters from the South who come together when catastrophe strikes the family. Very accessible and humorous despite the heaviness the trials/issues they are beset with, and full of extremely genuine-feeling familial love. That last scene/image is one I'll probably always remember. You wouldn't think something as simple as surprising your sister with a birthday cake would have the kind of breathless, suspenseful stak [...]

    18. I finished this play in a matter of one day. It is perhaps one of the best plays I've ever read, and that is an understatement. I could relate to it family-wise because I have 3 sisters and of course we've fought many times before and never often see each other nowadays because one sister is in med school and another in dental But enough about me.I was enticed from beginning to end. I was even reading it in the middle of class and got in trouble for it, but I kept reading anyway. The second act [...]

    19. This was kind of disappointing. Crimes of the Heart is a pretty widely known play, so I was expecting more from it. But ultimately, very little happens. We don't see how a single things that's mentioned in the play ends up. So it makes me wonder why I read the whole thing or sat through a whole performance. It's not like there's some big lesson about life or mankind at the end of it. It's not like the characters are incredibly crafted like in a Tennesse William's plot-less play. No, this was jus [...]

    20. I saw the movie (EXTREMELY true to the play) in the theatre twice--once in a theatre only a couple hours' drive from the town where it was set, and again in California. There were lots of laughs both times, but rarely at the same lines, which to my young self was very enlightening. This play is hilarious and so Southern. Someone below described it as "schlocky," I believe, but bless his heart, because this writing is true in a way that southern gothic so often is. We ALL know a Chick around here [...]

    21. Really interesting play. It was enjoyable to read. The unique roles and relationships within would make this a great challenge for any performer. The bond of the three sisters is the core of this comedy/drama, but it works well as an ensemble piece as well. The men in the story expose another side of these sisters and provide a nice depth and change of pace to keep things interesting. In some ways the end leaves you hanging, but it seems to me that the purpose of this tale is to explore the char [...]

    22. Beth Henley's play seems unsure whether it wishes to be a heart warming drama or a caricature filled comedy, and in this confusion the point of the play seemed to fall through the cracks. In the process of telling the story of the reunion of three sisters in a small town in Mississippi, Crimes of the Heart sometimes shines with vivid and empathetic characterization, but too often cannot break away from cliched 'types'. The exposition was often messy, and the ending emotionally unsatisfying excep [...]

    23. I saw this play at McArthur theatre in Princeton, NJ. I have to say they did a phenomenal job performing. I understand it was extremely difficult to play such crazy characters, but I think they pulled it off very well. However, as far as the play itself goes, I think it was a little too Chekhovian. I heard that the author herself had somewhat of an obsession with Chekhov, I think it influenced her quite a lot. Maybe I am reading too much in to it, but having just seen the "Three Sisters" recentl [...]

    24. For me, this play didn't follow through the way I would have liked it to. There were a lot of phone calls, which - in my opinion - should be used sparingly in plays. I liked the characters a lot, especially Babe, and while I enjoyed her subplot the most, I was a little distracted by what else was going on - especially Meg's plot - which were petty compared to what Babe was dealing with.Overall, though, this is a good example of feminist theatre, passing the Bechdel test with flying colors and hi [...]

    25. The idiosyncratic characters, and the use of absurdism to address mental illness and tragedy, almost make up for the creaky structure. The default to clumsy expository speeches and devices however stop the forward action too often and the deus ex machina that resolves the story's central tension is disappointing. I like the characters and the themes are interesting but Henley seems unsure of a larger point and therefore falls victim to superficial plot mechanics, where she could have created mor [...]

    26. This play is a beautiful exploration of family dynamics. Well written story with a great American gothic feel. Very interesting characters I love stories like this, that make you really experience each character's emotions and struggles. There are so many memorable moments that made me laugh yet also feel the immense sadness each character carries with them. This plot is just strange enough to be completely believable :)

    27. The quirkiest of characters. Three southern sisters brought together after the youngest shoots her husband. Crazy, crazy stuff going on - multiple affairs and bad judgment, aging grandparents, a mom whose hung herself in the basement, tarnished reputations, pecans, chocolates and birthday cake. I'm not exaggerating when I say I'm not sure there's any meaning to this play other than the power of sisters and laughter, often inappropriate and in the midst of tragedy.

    28. Wow, this was a lot better than I thought it would be. I had picked this out randomly at a shop in New York city, not hoping for the best. I had no idea what to expect. But it was actually worth the read!I'm a bit of a theater geek, so I really got into the characters. Not to give any spoilers, but it had some twists in the book that I didn't expect, and I was even a bit scared at one point!I am hoping that somewhere in the future I will be able to act in this show!

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