Beth Henley is a Distinguished Professor of Theatre Arts. She is a playwright, screenwriter and actress whose 1979 Crimes of the Heart won the Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle Award. She began writing plays as a B.F.A. student at Southern Methodist University. The success of Crimes of the Heart has been followed by a long and distinguished career that includes the screenplay for the 1986 film of the play which featured Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek, Tess Harper and Sam Shepard. Other notable achievements are The Miss Firecracker Contest (this play was also made into a film with a screenplay by Professor Henley), The Wake of Jamey Foster, The Debutante Ball, The Lucky Spot, and Abundance. Her most recent plays are Signature, Control Freaks, L-Play, and Impossible Marriage (with Holly Hunter in the lead). In addition to the screenplays of Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest, Professor Henley has written several television and movie screenplays, including "Survival Guides" with Budge Threlkeld for PBS, the films Nobody's Fool and True Stories (the last is collaboration with Steven Trobolowsky and David Byrne of the rock group, Talking Heads.
Southern Methodist University: B.F.A., Fine Arts 1974
Areas of Expertise (3)
Industry Expertise (3)
Career Achievement in Professional Theatre Award Winner (professional)
Awarded the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Career Achievement in Professional Theatre.
Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar Nomination (professional)
Nominated for an Oscar for "Best Adapted Screenplay" for the 1986 film for "Crimes of the Heart."
Pulitzer Prize for Drama (professional)
Awarded the "Pulitzer Prize for Drama" for the play "Crimes of the Heart."
Best American Play of 1981 (professional)
Awarded "Best American Play of 1981" from the New York Drama Critics' Circle for "Crimes of the Heart."
Tony Award Nomination (professional)
Nominated for a Tony Award for "Crimes of the Heart" screenplay.
- The Fellowship of Southern Writers
- The Dramatist Guild
- The Academy of Arts and Science.
Media Appearances (3)
Tennessee Williams Plays Coming to 59E59 Theaters Next Season
The New York Times online
59E59 Theaters announced its next season’s lineup, which includes six new short plays adapted from Tennessee Williams short stories. Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley, PEN/Laura Pels Award-winner Marcus Gardley, and other playwrights have signed on to adapt Williams’s works for productions starting in August.
Playwright Beth Henley To Speak At Hartford Stage
Hartford Courant online
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley and senior dramaturg Elizabeth Williamson will discuss Henley's play, "Abundance" immediately following the 8 p.m. performance on Friday, April 5.
A Conversation With Beth Henley
The Magazine of Loyola Marymount University online
Beth Henley is President’s Professor in Theatre Arts in the College of Communication and Fine Arts. Born in Jackson, Miss., she is a prolific writer of plays and screenplays for television and film.