Playwright Beth Henley will be the guest of honor Tuesday when the movie of her award-winning play, “Crimes of the Heart,” is shown at the Plaza Classic Film Festival.
After the success of the 1978 play, Henley went on to write the Oscar-nominated script for the movie version, which hit the screen in 1986.
She grew up with three sisters, a fact that probably led her to write about family love and support, she told an interviewer. Henley’s work also focuses on how social values not only define but also confine women.
Before the showing of the movie at the Plaza Film Festival, Henley will be interviewed by longtime friend, playwright and El Paso resident Camilla Carr, co-founder with Kathryn Smith-McGlynn of El Paso’s Frontera Repertory Theatre Company.
Carr’s play, “All About Bette: An Interlude with Bette Davis,” is playing off Broadway with Morgana Shaw as Davis. She also wrote “Tom Lea: Grace Note in a Hard World,” a one-act play based on the life of El Paso artist Tom Lea.
Carr remembers the first time she met Henley, at Theatre 3 in Dallas.
“She was doing a play there, and was a student at Southern Methodist University,” Carr said. “When she graduated in 1974, she moved to Los Angeles, where I moved a couple of years later. We’ve visited each other several times through the years.”
Carr said that when her son was about to take a course in playwriting at Oxford, he asked Henley how to start. “Beth told him, ‘Take two people and get them into an argument.’”
“Life is messy,” Carr said, “and plays are about people making messes trying to get what they want.”
According to Carr, Henley’s mother was her inspiration. “The family lived in Jackson, Mississippi, where her mother was an actress. “Throughout her childhood, Beth was around great writers, great plays – Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen. It was there she heard the voices and language that inspired her love of writing,” Carr said.
“She developed her own voice, an original voice, as she wrote about the South. She was the first woman in 28 years to win the Pulitzer, which opened the doors to the playwriting world for all women. Her importance can’t be overestimated.”
Carr looks forward to talking with Beth about writing – “something we’ve never done,” she laughed. “We’ve talked about everything else. Remarkably, my husband and her significant other have known each as long as the two of us have. It’s like two brothers marrying two sisters.”
As Carr sees it, “Artists aren’t comfortable staying in their own little world. They want to see and know other worlds, and take them into their interior solar systems.”
‘Crimes of the Heart’
Tuesday, Aug. 12
6 p.m. Free discussion led by Jack Fields,
Camino Real Dome Bar
7 p.m. Screening of ‘Crimes of the Heart,’
discussion with writer
Beth Henley and
Camilla Carr, $8