John Caldwell Maxwell is best known for his one-man play Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write? Born to Mignonne Caldwell Maxwell and Hoover Maxwell on 12 July 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi, Maxwell spent his early years in Pickens. He attended the University of Mississippi, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1966 and a master’s degree two years later.
In his twenties Maxwell began reading works by William Faulkner and became interested the Mississippi author. Maxwell then conducted extensive research on Faulkner’s professional and personal life, and the result was Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write?, which features some of Faulkner’s own words and made its debut at Jackson’s New Stage Theatre in 1981. Maxwell has subsequently presented his play to audiences at colleges, universities, arts organizations, and theaters in the United States as well as around the world.
Other works by Maxwell include a 1989 religious play, The Salvation of Sunshine Billy. First produced at the Heritage Repertory Theatre of the University of Virginia, the play was restructured as Buck-Nekkid and has been produced in Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, and Fort Worth. Known widely as a Christian actor, Maxwell is dedicated to revitalizing interest in the Bible through drama. In 2002 he founded a nonprofit theatrical organization, the Fish Tale Group. With three original monologues profiling John the Baptist, Paul, and Peter, Maxwell has also written and produced several short mock documentary videos depicting modern-day versions of well-known Bible stories.
Maxwell has been a principal player in many productions of Jackson’s New Stage Theatre, where he spent six years as artistic director. He is a member of both Actor’s Equity and the Screen Actors Guild and has appeared on television programs including Northern Exposure, Medicine Ball, Issaquena, The Rising Place, and Infidelity. Maxwell lives in Jackson and pursues acting through his Fish Tale Group Theater and some one-person performances as Biblical characters. A filmed performance of Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do You Write? was released in 2006.
- Mississippi Writers Page website, www.olemiss.edu/mwp
- John C. Maxwell, interview by Marilyn H. Smith (28 September 2004)