Crimes of the Heart at Heritage High

Greg Newman, who leads the Heritage High School Drama Department, announces the dates for their first ever "Black Box Theater" production.

"Crimes of the Heart" is a play by Beth Henley that earned her a Pulitzer Prize. It lead to the movie production in 1986 starring Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton, and Jessica Lange. The story chronicles the challenges of the McGrath sisters on a "real bad day," that sees the arrest of Babe, the youngest sister, for shooting her husband. Set in the Southern town of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, the sisters struggle with legacy of their mother who committed suicide. As the characters fight demons of the past, they get caught in trivial and not so trivial dramas of the moment in poetically human way.


Black Box Theater refers to a type of space that can be configured in any seating pattern from traditional to completely in the round. Seating tends not to exceed 120, though this production of Crimes of the Heart will seat 80, and creates a setting where the audience is practically on the stage itself.

crimes of the heart
Newman goes on to say about Black Box Theater and this particular production...

This not only creates an intimate connection between actor and audience, it challenges the actor to work in a less technical, emotionally truer way. There is no place to hide or "fake it." And to craft a character in this way is closer to to the approach an actor must employ in film or television. It also tends to require a more flawless creation of a role that can bear close scrutiny. This is exhilarating, but extremely challenging.

For the reasons listed above, black box is almost always done in college, almost never on the high school level. It is the kind of theatre you see produced off-Broadway in New York. What we are doing makes our program cutting edge in the acting training we provide.

Heritage High School students and audiences can now uniquely experience what happens almost nowhere else at this level. I am so proud of my actors and actresses.

We have been slightly risky using "color-blind" casting in a southern play that skirts some racial issues, but the quality of the acting you see should justify any qualms.

Special thanks to Taylor's Appliance in Riverside who lent us a refrigerator free of charge, and my great students who worked so hard to make this play a reality.




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