- Paul: The Last Epistle
- John the Baptist: Flower Child
- Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?
- The Salvation of Sunshine Billy
- The Blood of the Lamb
- Mississippi Jewel
by Krystal Jenkins (SHS)
John Maxwell, son of Hoover and Mignonne Maxwell, was born on July 12,1944, in Pickins, Mississippi. At the age of sixteen, Maxwell’s father died of cancer, but John’s mother is still living in Jackson, Mississippi. As a high school student, John was a good student. He attended Holmes Agricultural High School; and after graduating, he attended Ole Miss and got his BA and MA.
As a student, John Maxwell was an avid reader. Since reading was such a huge part of his life, writing soon became part of it as well. Writing was and still is a huge part of John’s life. John states, “Once I got over my low sense of accomplishment as a writer, I just took off and did it. I mean it’s very exciting to create people and stories and make them come alive before an audience.” John not only has a passion for writing but also performing. He performs such self- written monologues as Paul: The Last Epistle and John The Baptist: Flower Child.
Faulkner, Thornton Wilder, and Joe Orton are Maxwell’s favorite authors, but it is no doubt Faulkner influenced him the most. One of Maxwell’s most famous one-man plays, performed in twelve different countries, is “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?” Deciding to write about Faulkner was not a huge problem for Maxwell. He states, “With Faulkner, I was obsessed with the man. And when I read the letters that were published by Random House, I knew I wanted to write a one-man show based on his life.” It took Maxwell about five years to research and one year to write this play.
As a writer, John Maxwell has received a Tennessee Williams scholarship to study play writing at The Sewanee Writers Conference in Sewanee, Tennessee. In 1992, he received the Susan B. Herron Playwriting Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission. His play, The Salvation of Sunshine Billy, was produced at the University of Virginia and received the W. Alton Jones Foundation Grant for new American plays.
As Artistic Director at New Stage Theatre in Jackson, Maxwell’s play Buck-Nekkid, which took him five years to write has been performed in many different areas. ” “The play, has a deep religious theme….I got the idea for Buck-Nekkid from the characters themselves. I know that sounds strange, but I found the voices and they dictated the plot.”, explains Maxwell. As of now, Maxwell has just finished writing Flower Child about John The Baptist, and he is about to go back to work on a full-length passion play based on the book of John. He currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife Sandy and son, Townes.
When asked what advice Maxwell has for students today, he says ” Read, read, read and get a well rounded education. You are only as interesting as the things you soak up and keep in a lifetime. Keep those five senses wide open…notice things and always stop to smell the roses.”
- 1944- June 12: John Maxwell was born in Jackson, Mississippi
- 1981- John Maxwell began touring “OH, MR. FAULKNER, DO YOU WRITE?”
- 1989- THE SALVATION OF SUNSHINE BILLY was produced at the University of Virginia
- 1992- John Maxwell received the Susan B. Herron Playwriting Fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission
A Review of The Last Epistle and “Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?“
by Krystal Jenkins (SHS)
A few years ago it was a definite treat for me to be able to see John Maxwell perform THE LAST EPISTLE in a local church. I was very impressed and moved by his acting ability and his wonderful writing ability. His monologue gave wonderful detail to Paul’s life and his journey. I hope to someday be able to see Mr. Maxwell perform again. It is truly a treat.
After seeing John’s play, “OH, MR. FAULKNER DO YOU WRITE?” I was yet again astounded by John’s wonderful writing and acting abilities. I really felt he brought Faulkner to life and portrayed Faulkner the way he really was. I felt that Mr. Maxwell enjoyed what he was doing and, and he brought his character back to life.
by Krystal Jenkins (SHS)
Could you please give me some biographical information on yourself, such as place of birth, date of birth, parents’ names, high school, etc.
I was born in Jackson, MS, July 12, 1944. I was raised about two miles outside of Pickins, MS “right past the Resume Speed sign.” My mother and father are Mignonne and Hoover Maxwell. My father died of cancer when I was sixteen. My mother is retired and living in Jackson. I went to high school at Holmes Agricultural High School and got my BA and MA at Old Miss.
What kind of work do you write?
I write monologues, one-person plays, one-acts and full length plays. A lot of what I do deals with religion. The two monologues are on Paul (THE LAST EPISTLE) and John The Baptist (FLOWER CHILD). The play BUCK-NEKKID has a deep religious theme. The one-man play is on the life of William Faulkner. I also wrote a Drama-Comedy based on the one hundred year celebration of MUW (Miss. University for Women).
Who is your favorite author?
Faulkner, Thornton Wilder, and Joe Orton.
What author do you think influenced you the most?
Why did you decide to write about what you did?
With Faulkner, I was obsessed with the man. And when I read the letters that were published by Random House, I knew I wanted to write a one-man show based on his life. I really feel a call from God with the religious material. The older I get, I begin asking questions like “How has my life benefited this community I live in?”. I discovered drama in the church, and it is one of the most exciting theatre experiences if my life.
When did you become interested in writing? Was there something particular that got you interested in writing?
I think the thing that got me most interested in writing is after having read a lot, I wanted to DO IT! I wanted to write. Once I got over my low sense of accomplishment as a writer, I just took off and did it. Now I’m literally addicted to it. I mean it’s very exciting to create people and stories and make them come alive before an audience.
What kind of student were you in high school?
I was a pretty good student in high school (B average) and a lousy college student. My graduate grades were A’s and B’s (I had to grow up a little).
How long did it take you to write your plays? Where did you get the idea from?
It took me about a year to write “OH, MR. FAULKNER, DO YOU WRITE?”. It took about 5 years to research it. It took about 5 years to write BUCK-NEKKID. The monologues cam much quicker though I spent a ton of time researching the Apostle Paul…I got the idea for BUCK-NEKKID from the characters themselves. I know that sounds strange, but I found the voices and they dictated the plot.
Are you working on anything new at this time?
Yes! I just finished FLOWER CHILD (John The Baptist), and I’m about to go back to work on a full length passion play based on the book if John.
Have you received any awards for your writing or anything?
That is pretty well covered in the bio I sent you.
Do you have any advice for students today?
Read, read, read and get a well rounded education. You are only as interesting as the things you soak up and keep in a lifetime. Keep those five senses wide open…notice things and always stop to smell the roses.