Auditions: Beth Henley’s “Crimes of the Heart”

THE MMAS BLACK BOX THEATRE IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE AUDITIONS FOR BETH HENLEY’S, CRIMES OF THE HEART
Directed by Dori Bryan-Ployer

AUDITION DATES:
PRELIMINARY AUDITIONS: Monday, June 17th 7:00pm-10:00pm
CALLBACK AUDITIONS: Tuesday, June 18th, 7:00pm-10:00pm

AUDITION LOCATION:
377 North Main Street, Mansfield MA 02048

AUDITION CONTENT:
Please prepare a 1-minute monologue from a contemporary play. Consider the characters in Crimes of the Heart when selecting a piece. Comedic-dramatic, Southern accent etc. In addition, be prepared to read from the script.
When you call to reserve your appointment a PDF copy of the script will be sent to you.

AUDITION CONTACT:
To schedule an audition time, please email stage manager Sharon Silberman at spoohs@aol.com. When you email, please include your resume and headshot. Actors interested in auditioning but unable to make the preliminary or callback audition, please advise Sharon and an alternative time will be arranged.

PRODUCTION DATES:
Friday 9/6-Sunday 9/22, 2019, Thursday-Sunday (First Thursday performance will be on 9/12)
Thursday, Friday, Saturday evening performances at 8:00 pm.
Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.

TECH WEEK
Saturday, August 31-Thursday, Sept. 5

ABOUT THE PLAY
The three MaGrath sisters are back together in their hometown of Hazelhurst, Mississippi for the first time in a decade. Lenny, the eldest, never left Hazelhurst — she is the caretaker of the sisters’ cantankerous Old Granddaddy. Meg, the middle sister, left home to pursue stardom as a singer in Los Angeles, but has, so far, only found happiness at the bottom of a bottle. And Babe, the youngest, has just been arrested for the murder of her abusive husband, Zackery Bottrelle. Under the scorching heat of the Mississippi sun, past resentments bubble to the surface and each sister must come to terms with the consequences of her own “crimes of the heart.” Crimes of the Heart is a character study of three sisters, each attempting to discover her own identity. They collectively deal with family problems and individual challenges. The bizarre yet believable characters in Henley’s Southern gothic comedy struggle to deal with despair, loneliness, and failure.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS
Babe
Babe is the youngest MaGrath sister. At the start of the play, she has shot her husband, Zackery, a powerful and wealthy lawyer. At first, the only explanation she gives for the act is the defiant statement: “I didn’t like his looks! I just didn’t like his stinking looks!” Eventually, she reveals that the shooting was the result of her anger at Zackery’s cruel treatment both of her and of Willie Jay, a fifteen-year-old African American boy with whom Babe had been carrying on an affair. Babe makes two attempts to kill herself late in the play.  After being rescued by Meg, Babe appears enlightened and at peace with her mother’s suicide. Babe says she understands why their mother hanged the family cat along with herself; not because she hated it but because she loved it and “was afraid of dying all alone.” 

Chick Boyle
The sisters’ first cousin, who is twenty-nine years old. She is a very demanding relative, extremely concerned about the community’s opinion of her. When news is published of Babe’s shooting of Zackery, Chick’s primary concern is how she’s “gonna continue holding my head up high in this community.” Chick is critical of all aspects of the MaGrath’s family and is always bringing up past tragedies such as the mother’s suicide. Chick is especially hard on Meg, whom she finds undisciplined and calls a “low-class tramp,” and on Babe, who “doesn’t understand how serious the situation is” after shooting Zackery. Chick seems to feel closest to Lenny and is genuinely surprised to be ushered out of the house for her comments about Lenny’s sisters.

Barnette Lloyd
Barnette is Babe’s lawyer. An ambitious, talented attorney, Barnette views Babe’s case as a chance to exact his personal revenge on Zackery. “The major thing he did,” Barnette says, “was to ruin my father’s life.” Barnette also seems to have a strong attraction to Babe, whom he remembers distinctly from a chance meeting at a Christmas bazaar. Barnette is prevented from taking on Zackery in open court by the desire to protect Babe’s affair with Willie Jay from public exposure. He is willing to make this sacrifice for Babe, and the play ends with some hope that his efforts will be rewarded.

Lenny MaGrath 
Lenny, at the age of thirty, is the oldest MaGrath sister. Her sisters have forgotten her birthday, only compounding her sense of rejection. Lenny is frustrated after years of carrying heavy burdens of responsibility; most recently, she has been caring for Old Granddaddy, sleeping on a cot in the kitchen to be near him. Lenny loves her sisters but is also jealous of them, especially Meg, whom she feels received preferential treatment during their upbringing. Meg has also been surrounded by men all her life, while Lenny has feared rejection from the opposite sex and become withdrawn as a result. She fears continuing the one romantic relationship, with a Charlie Hill from Memphis, which has gone well for her in recent years. While almost continuously pushed beyond the point of frustration, Lenny nevertheless has a close bond of loyalty with her sisters. Chick is constantly criticizing the family (culminating in her calling Meg a “low-class tramp”); when Lenny is finally pushed to the point that she turns on her cousin, chasing her out of the house with a broom, this is an important turning point in the play. It demonstrates the ultimate strength of family bonds and their social value in Henley’s play. 

Meg MaGrath
Meg is the middle sister at twenty-seven years of age. As an eleven-year-old child, Meg discovered the body of their mother (and that of the family cat) following her suicide. This traumatic experience provoked Meg to test her strength by confronting morbidity wherever she could find it, including poring over medical photographs of disease-ridden victims and staring at March of Dimes posters of crippled children. At the beginning of the play Meg returns to Mississippi from Los Angeles, where her singing career has stalled and where, she later tells Doc, she had a nervous breakdown and ended up in the psychiatric ward of the county hospital.The other MaGrath sisters share a perception that Meg has always received preferential treatment in life. When Lenny ponders “why should Old Grandmama let her sew twelve golden jingle bells on her petticoats and us only three?” this is not a minor issue for her and Babe. The two sisters feel on some level that this special treatment has led Meg to act irresponsibly as when she abandoned Doc, for whatever reason, after he was severely injured in the hurricane. Lenny is angry with Meg for lying to Old Granddaddy in the hospital about her career, but Meg states “I just wasn’t going to sit there and look at him all miserable and sick and sad!” Both Babe and Lenny are concerned when Meg disappears with Doc her first night back in Mississippi. Both sisters, however especially Lenny are also protective of Meg, especially from the attacks of their cousin Chick.

Doc Porter 
Doc is Meg’s old boyfriend. He is still known affectionately as “Doc” although his plans for a medical career stalled and eventually died after he was severely injured in Hurricane Camille – his love for Meg (and her promise to marry him) prompted him to stay behind with her while the rest of the town evacuated the storm’s path. Many people now have the perception (as Meg and Lenny discuss) that Meg “baited Doc into staying there with her.” Doc, who now has his own wife and children, nevertheless remains close to the MaGrath family. Although Meg abandoned him when she left for California, Doc remains fond of her, and Meg is extremely happy to have his friendship upon her return from California.