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Abundance Drama 5 (3m, 2f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

Bess Johnson and Macon Hill are mail-order brides who meet while waiting for their husbands to pick them up to start life in a small town in the Wyoming Territory in the 1860s. Bess is a romantic while Macon Hill is exuberant and determined about getting on with a life in the West, one that promises to be full of possibility. The husbands arrive. Bess, expecting Mike Flynn, gets his brother, Jack. Macon's husband is William Curtis, a widower with one eye and a scarred face. Life becomes very difficult for Bess and Jack, and Bess is constantly abused and totally unappreciated. They struggle—and fail—to make ends meet. On the other hand, Macon is hardly tolerant of William, although the couple is affluent. One Christmas Eve, in a rage, Jack burns down the cabin. Macon and William take the couple in and start living together for a longer time than expected. Bess and Macon, having forged a strong bond, decide that some day they will strike out on their own, though Macon is reluctant to actually do so. Some time later, while celebrating their mutual wedding anniversaries, Jack and Macon become lovers at the same time Bess is abducted by Indians! Macon, Jack and Will continue to live together over the years, believing that Bess has been killed. However, Bess returns, having escaped death by becoming assimilated into Indian life, and now seems incapable of resuming a normal life. During her absence, the fortunes of Macon and Will have greatly diminished. Bess agrees to tell the story of her abduction and escape for publication and the lecture circuit. With the help of a professor, she becomes the country's hottest sensation with this dramatic—and embellished—tale. Jack develops a new love for her, while Macon and Will separate and fail miserably at their new business pursuits. Many years later as Bess is getting ready to retire and Macon is ready to die, the women reconcile as they muse over how they have and have not "savored the boundlessness of it all."

"ABUNDANCE percolates with dark laughter…this is its author's most provocative play in years…Given Ms. Henley's ability to spin the tallest of tales, ABUNDANCE sometimes has the tone of a rambunctious tongue-in-cheek Twain story, with echoes of Thomas Berger's Little Big Man." —NY Times. "a real treat…" —The New Yorker. "Part of the pleasure of the play is seeing the women's differing destinies spelled out deftly, often comically. Henley's gift for the telling image and the absurd situation comes into play regularly." —Variety. "Henley has an unmistakable talent for making human desperation seem funny, complex and unpredictable." —Village Voice.   

Am I Blue Comedy/Satire 7 (3m, 4f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The story begins in a seedy New Orleans bar where John Polk Richards, a college freshman whose fraternity brothers have paid his way into a bordello as an eighteenth birthday present, is bolstering his courage with liquor. He is approached by Ashbe, a fey young creature who invites him to the littered apartment that she shares with her absent father. As high strung and flaky as John Polk is nervous and tentative, Ashbe initiates him into her secret fantasy life as she tries to bridge the loneliness that infuses them both. She strings Cheerios to make a necklace and then nibbles at them; puts blue food coloring in John Polk's rum and Coke; lets him hear the sea in her favorite conch shell; and finally, invites him to make love to her—an offer that he politely declines. Sometimes wildly funny, sometimes gently affecting, the play is a wonderfully resourceful study of two young people, both unsure and apprehensive, whose unexpected encounter becomes, for both of them, a valuable lesson in coping with life—now and in the future.

Presented by New York's Circle Repertory Company as part of a triple bill entitled CONFLUENCE. A highly original, offbeat comedy which ranges from hilarity to pathos as it details the chance meeting of a timid college freshman and the precocious teenager who lures him to her ramshackle apartment. "…joyously proves that her great Broadway hit CRIMES OF THE HEART was no happy flash in the pan. There is real gold in that there typewriter." —NY Post. "Along the way we sample Beth Henley's wondrous gift for creating sweet comedy out of Southern eccentricities as well as her ability to reveal the sad loneliness beneath the spunk." —NY Times. "…stamped with the trademark of this fine and vital writer." —Hollywood Reporter.  

Control Freaks Drama 4 (2m, 2f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

CONTROL FREAKS. Sister Willard (a troubled woman who struggles with three personalities: Sister, Spaghetti and Pinkie) returns from jury duty to discover her brother, Carl, has married Betty. Carl and Betty have big plans to open up Furniture World. All they need is Sister's signature on the papers, and the building will be theirs. Paul, the owner of the building, is invited over to sign the papers and have cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Sister decides to "set her cap" for Paul because she wants Carl to see that "she can get a man." Betty doesn't like this plan because she is secretly and very sexually involved with the seductive Paul. Murder, mayhem and memories unfold as these four desperate characters vie for ultimate control.

"Nothing in the previous work of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley quite prepares one for the stunning singularity and depth that permeates her latest work, CONTROL FREAKS." —LA Village Voice.

Crimes of the Heart Comedy/Satire; Drama 6 (2m, 4f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The scene is Hazlehurst, Mississippi, where the three Magrath sisters have gathered to await news of the family patriarch, their grandfather, who is living out his last hours in the local hospital. Lenny, the oldest sister, is unmarried at thirty and facing diminishing marital prospects; Meg, the middle sister, who quickly outgrew Hazlehurst, is back after a failed singing career on the West Coast; while Babe, the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her husband in the stomach. Their troubles, grave and yet, somehow, hilarious, are highlighted by their priggish cousin, Chick, and by the awkward young lawyer who tries to keep Babe out of jail while helpless not to fall in love with her. In the end the play is the story of how its young characters escape the past to seize the future—but the telling is so true and touching and consistently hilarious that it will linger in the mind long after the curtain has descended.

Winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. An astonishing first play, initially presented by the Actors Theatre of Louisville, then Off-Broadway, and then on Broadway, where it established the author as a major voice in our theatre. Warm-hearted, irreverent, zany and brilliantly imaginative, the play teems with humanity and humor as it examines the plight of three young Mississippi sisters betrayed by their passions. "While this play overflows with infectious high spirits, it is also, unmistakably, the tale of a very troubled family. Such is Miss Henley's prodigious talent that she can serve us pain as though it were a piece of cake." —NY Times. "It has heart, wit and a surprisingly zany passion that must carry all before it…it would certainly be a crime for anyone interested in the theatre not to see this play." —NY Post. "From time to time a play comes along that restores one's faith in our theatre…" —NY Magazine.  

Debutante Ball, The Comedy/Satire; Drama 7 (2m, 5f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

This stunning comic drama, set in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, begins the morning of Teddy Parker's debutante ball, that archetypal phenomenon in Southern culture known as a maiden's "coming out." Teddy's mother, the beautiful and formidable Jen Parker Turner, has willed this event into being. Ostracized from polite society ever since she was accused and—under much speculation and gossip—acquitted of the murder of her wealthy husband, Jen has been looking to Teddy's coming-out gala to revive her and her family's reputation. As the play unfolds, various secrets emerge: an unwanted pregnancy, an illicit romance, self-mutilation, mendacity and murder. Polite facades crumble and ugly truths twist and polka across the ballroom floor. This is a play about the price of secrets and the power that love and lovelessness hold over our lives.

"…THE DEBUTANTE BALL is the blackest of the Mississippi-born playwright's comedies and probably her best." —USA Today. "THE DEBUTANTE BALL…is also blessed with Henley's striking gifts for outrageous theatricality, off-the-wall dialogue and sharply observed character." —The Register. "What is special about [Henley] as a writer—the sudden bursts of simple emotion, the capturing of joy wrapped up in calamity and the comic obsessions with grotesquerie and bodily functions…is abundantly evident." —LA Herald Examiner.     

Impossible Marriage Comedy/Satire 7 (4m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The entire action of the play takes place in Kandall Kingsley's beautiful and mysterious garden. Kandall's youngest daughter, Pandora, is to be wed to Edvard Lunt, a worldly artist twice her age. Kandall does not think the match to be at all suitable. Flora, Pandora's older sister, who is expecting a child at any moment, plots to break off the marriage. Unexpectedly, Sidney Lunt, the groom's son, arrives with a note from his mother in which she vows to throw herself from an attic window if the marriage goes forward. Even Reverend Lawrence who has come to wed the couple has secret hopes and desperate desires. Throughout this wildly funny and moving play the characters struggle heroically with the impossibility of finding an allegiance between their civilized duties and primitive desires.

"Beth Henley is a virtuosic wordsmith." —NY Times. "A brisk and perky new comedy. What gives the play its savor and joy are, as usual, Henley's women—those ditsy females, unknown to natural law, who always seem to get their own way, disconcerting even when they don't know what their own way is." —NY Post. "A cocktail at once whimsical and poignant." —NY Daily News. "True to her intellectually quirky style, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Beth Henley has created a work that's as poetic and whimsical as it is dramatic and concrete…an intoxicating play that sends up love and marriage." —Time Out NY. "Henley's writing echoes her characters' eccentricities. It is filled with the odd, endearing turn of phrase and the unlikely plot twist that deliver laughs and sometimes even a rueful moment or two. A blissful visit with a delightfully balmy family." —Associated Press. 

L-Play Comedy/Satire 6 (3m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

L-PLAY is a fascinating study of style, character and rhythm. The play is written in twelve scenes. Each scene has a unique style and is a mini play in itself. The element that unites these pieces is that each scene title begins with the letter L. The scenes include: "Learner," a young student struggles to gain the affection of his beloved through poetry; "Lunatic," an isolated woman fights going mad, goes mad, and after circling the edge finds redemption; "Leaving," a piece performed in masks in which a granddaughter seeks to find the secrets of her dying grandmother's life; "Loser," a small-town guy tries to get his best friend to hit on his girlfriend to test her loyalty. The final piece, "Life," is primarily a dance where the primitive family of Ones encounters the Shoe who presents them with the terrible joy of life.

"…a curious, challenging, funny, and at times, mesmerizing evening of theatrical musings…refusing to conform to soothing, sentimental narratives. Ms. Henley's brand of Southern Gothic humor—dark as a box of bittersweet chocolates—is enticing and deliciously impolite…" —Daily Hampshire Gazette .    

Lucky Spot, The Comedy/Satire 7 (4m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The place is Pigeon, Louisiana, the time Christmas 1934—at the low point of the American Depression. Reed Hooker, a compulsive gambler, has won a rundown rural dance hall in a poker game, and hopes that it will make his fortune. Assisted by the faithful Turnip and an underaged waif named Cassidy (whom Reed also won at cards and whom he has made pregnant), Reed has christened the place "The Lucky Spot" and is preparing for the grand opening. Cassidy, hoping that Reed will divorce his present spouse and marry her, has secretly arranged for his estranged wife, Sue Jack, to have Christmas parole from the prison where she was committed for doing away with Reed's last ladylove. But as Sue Jack and Reed detest each other (or think that they do) her unexpected arrival starts the fur flying—particularly after the volatile Sue Jack, who is supposed to stay on the wagon, comes across both a loaded pistol and a jar of good southern moonshine. Complications multiply (except for the rather forlorn, weak-ankled Lacey), and the sinister Whitt Carmichael (to whom Reed owes money) turns up with a dispossess order. In the end The Lucky Spot proves not to be so lucky, but Reed and Sue Jack do discover that what they think is hate is really love—and the others, in one very funny way or another, also get their just desserts.

Filled with offbeat humor and touching insights, this warm-hearted play by one of our theatre's most celebrated writers follows the fortunes of a group of delightfully zany southern "misfits" as they struggle valiantly to make a go of a rural dance hall during the Depression. Successfully produced Off-Broadway by the renowned Manhattan Theatre Club. "…by far her best play since CRIMES OF THE HEART. It has the same offhanded energy, the same unwitting wit with which the characters confront their predicaments, the same pathos that gets drowned in humor rather than tears…" —NY Magazine. "…the playwright has melded eccentric characters, grotesquely farcical events and genuine compassion into touching comic theatre…" —NY Times. "Her newest and probably funniest play…" —NY Post.    

Miss Firecracker Contest, The Comedy/Satire 6 (2m, 4f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

The place is the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven, the time a few days before the Fourth of July. Carnelle Scott (known locally as "Miss Hot Tamale") is rehearsing furiously for the Miss Firecracker Contest—hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain, a former Miss Firecracker winner, (who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small children) complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain's eccentric brother, Delmount, (recently released from a mental institution) to sell the family homestead and decamp for New Orleans. But, aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye (who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount) and several other cheerfully nutty characters, Carnelle perseveres—leading to a denouement of unparalleled hilarity, compassion and moving lyricism as all concerned finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward what must surely be a better future.

A long-run Off-Broadway success, this explosively funny play again demonstrates the author's unique gift for finding rich lodes of humor—and simple wisdom—in the zany activities of small-town life. "…the evening's torrential downpour of humor—alternately Southern-Gothic absurdist, melancholy and broad—almost never subsides." —NY Times. "…there is a story, with suspense and conflict—but where it shines is in the imagination of the playwright, in the characters she has created, in the strangeness and depth of their emotions, in the lines written for them to speak, and in her own astonishing, humorous vision." —The New Yorker. "It's a comic volcano of a play, populated by offbeat, but vital, larger-than-life characters…" —The Hollywood Reporter. "These are obviously the kinds of roles actors can happily chomp on…" —Time Magazine. 

Motherhood Out Loud Comedy/Satire 4 (1m, 3f) View Details Compare
Short
Synopsis

When entrusting the subject of motherhood to such a dazzling collection of celebrated American writers, what results is a joyous, moving, hilarious, and altogether thrilling theatrical event. Utterly unpredictable, MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD shatters traditional notions about parenthood, unveils its inherent comedy and celebrates the deeply personal truths that span and unite generations.

MOTHERHOOD OUT LOUD reveals with illuminating insight the humour, raw emotions and rocky roads we experience in life.

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