MSU students to perform award-winning play by state native

Contact: Heath Fisackerly

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The theatrical program of Mississippi State’s communication department announces its first production of the spring semester.

“Crimes of the Heart,” the 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Jackson native Beth Henley, will be staged Feb. 15-17 by students in Theatre MSU. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on the university’s McComas Hall main stage.

Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the door.

In addition to a Pulitzer, “Crimes” was nominated that year for a Tony Award as best play. A film version starring Diane Keaton later was nominated for an Oscar as best adapted screenplay.

Set in Hazlehurst, the semiautobiographical tragicomedy follows three Magrath sisters as they gather in the mid-20th century to deal with relationship issues. One sister never had a man she’s loved, another just left the one she had—and the third just shot one.

In his New York Times review, critic Frank Rich said that, “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,” he added.

Now a longtime California resident, Henley was reared in Mississippi’s capital city and graduated from Murrah High School. She then enrolled at Southern Methodist University, from which she received a 1974 fine arts degree and wrote her first play, a one-act work titled “Am I Blue.”

Her 1984 play, “The Miss Firecracker Contest,” was made into a 1989 film starring Holly Hunter. Other biographical details are at

For more about the communication department and its theatrical program, visit

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