By: T Kinkley, Red & Black Campus Arts & Culture Writer
Crimes of the Heart is about the lives of sisters Lenny, Meg, and Babe MaGrath.(Photo Courtesy Regan Carlson)
JAN. 13 - From Nov. 17-19, the production of Crimes of The Heart written by playwright Beth Henley (which was published in 1978) was performed in Olin Theatre. Crimes of The Heart won a Pulitzer’s Prize in 1981 for the drama category and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.
The show is based on three sisters: Lenny, Meg, and Babe MaGrath. It follows each of their stories and how they come together as sisters again, though we do not get a lot of background about their past family issues. It also includes Doc Porter, a previous love interest of Meg, and Barnette Lloyd who is the child of a local townsperson and Babe’s lawyer, and Chick Boyle who is a cousin of the MaGrath sisters.
In the play, Babe has just attempted to kill her husband, Zachary. Not only are the other two sisters dealing with that, but they are also caring for their grandfather suffering multiple strokes. Meanwhile, Meg has just gotten back from California, where she was trying to become a famous singer, even going so far as to tell her grandfather in the hospital that she was going to be on TV. Lenny is struggling with her grandfather in the hospital and living at their grandparents’ house.
This background information is important due to the casting decisions and some of the rewrites. Canonically, this play takes place in the 1960s. Though it is still very much prevalent now, structural racism was incredibly more prominent during the time of the play’s setting. Due to this, director Carley Lyon decided to change some of the dialogue. The dialogue included a few comments about Babe’s infidelity that originally included a person of color who was also underage. Instead, Carley changed it to be about a queer relationship, thinking this would more appropriately depict an unfairly stigmatized relationship than outright racism through derogatory comments and an inappropriate age gap. While it is important to note the background of the story, our current times have taken more efforts to rightfully denounce racist microaggressions, side comments and predatory relationships, Therefore, Carley reasoned it was better to cut out the lines with racist undertones and swap out the underage comments for comments about the character being a female, as this was better suited for the audience and would prevent the perpetuation of racist narratives in yet another piece of media. Other than that, there were only some minor additional cuts to the script made for a time limit, as well as for a more concise story.
Overall, positive reviews were heard around the school. Many people spoke about it to their friends. The set was on stage as well as seating. There were around one hundred seats, and every night at least half were filled. On the Red & Black News Hour on WNJR, Brenden Guesman who hosts the hour had said other professors had said they really enjoyed it and gave praise to the cast. Brendan, on the radio show, said “I went on that Thursday night, and I can say it was a phenomenal play.”
“I went on that Thursday night, and I can say it was a phenomenal play.” - Guesman