Monday, January 16, 2012

Dark and Bloody Ground

Beth Henley is of course best known for Crimes of the Heart, though I'd love to hear about her work with David Byrne on the True Stories film. Henley's recent plays (including the new The Jacksonian) draw on her childhood and a violent family history. (NYT)
For her part Ms. Henley is grateful to her advocates (“Glenne should get a medal,” she said) and seems relieved at last to be getting a premiere production at a major resident theater in her adopted hometown. (She’s had three previous premieres at 99-seat theaters here.) She also seems visibly wary. The trouble she had with her last play, “Family Week,” may offer a clue as to why. The show’s 2010 production at MCC Theater in New York, overseen by film director Jonathan Demme, got terrible reviews, but that’s not what bothered Ms. Henley most about the experience. “That play is very, very difficult for me to bear,” she confessed. Partly inspired by the unsolved 1996 murder of her nephew, “Family Week” only served to churn up her own unresolved grief. Watching the play “really made me loopy,” she said. “It’s like, you exorcise your demons when you’re writing, but when the actors are good, your demons are reflected back to you in a sometimes crucifying way.”

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