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‘Crimes of the Heart’ film comes to MSA stage

Mississippi native John Maxwell, an award-winning playwright and touring actor, will direct an upcoming play at the Mississippi School of the Arts that once made this part of the country famous.

On Oct. 6-8 in the Enochs Black Box, MSA theater students will perform Beth Henley’s acclaimed “Crimes of the Heart” under Maxwell’s direction.

“Crimes of the Heart” is a play set in Hazlehurst in the mid-20th century. It won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for drama and was nominated for the Tony Award for best play. A movie based on the production — with Henley as screenwriter — was released in 1986 and starred Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek.

Maxwell is best known for “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?”, his one man show based on the life of William Faulkner. The screen version of the Faulkner show won Maxwell the best actor award at the 2006 Atlanta Film Festival.

“I’ve been in contact with John for two years now,” said Suzanne Hirsch, executive director at MSA. “We’ve been wanting to have him come direct a play here, I think people are going to enjoy it.”

Maxwell agreed to work with students for three weeks every day leading up to the premier.

“I love directing these kids. It’s a wonderful experience for me, they are so talented,” Maxwell said. “I just got finished directing a play at New Stage Theatre in Jackson with adults and professionals from New York. That was fun, but this is just as much fun. The energy and talent these kids bring to the table is special.”

Hirsch is looking forward to seeing this production.

“This is a fun show,” she said. “It’s definitely got the comedy and drama of southern living.”

Tickets are $10 for general admission seating. Hirsch recommends ordering tickets in advance to ensure seats.

Tickets are available online at msabrookhaven.org.

The play begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 6-7 with a Sunday matinee Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.

“I’m excited or our students to get an opportunity to work with a Mississippi artist, on a Mississippi play,” said Hirsch. “They will get a different perspective working outside of their own discipline.”