The First Mrs Rochester is a witty and sometimes gritty depiction of the author Jean Rhys, and the inspiration for her acclaimed novel, The Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys was thought to be dead until she was discovered by an actress hoping to revive her career. When Selma Vaz Dias found Rhys in her home in Beckenham, South London, she found the author down on her luck, yet still to write her masterpiece. It is an unlikely meeting of two witty and determined older women, both of whom share the anxiety of cultural displacement.
The First Mrs Rochester evinces the wit, ambivalence, and depth of character of Jean Rhys. We are all foreigners.
Willy Holtzman is an American playwright and screenwriter, often focusing on theatrical representations of actual historical events. Holtzman has received two Pulitzer Prize nominations, a Humanitas Prize, a Writers Guild Award, a Peabody Award, as well as an HBO Award at the National Playwrights Conference.
Willy Holtzman‘s plays include The Morini Strad (City Theatre, ATCA Steinberg Best New American Play Award nominee, had its New York debut at Primary Stages in March 2012); Something You Did (Primary Stages, People’s Light & Theatre, Theatre J, commissioned by Baltimore Center Stage); Sabina (Primary Stages, New Jewish Theatre, Gradiva Award Nominee); Hearts (People’s Light & Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Asolo Theatre, New Jewish Theatre of St. Louis, received the Barrymore Award, the inaugural Arthur Miller Award and was anthologized in Smith and Kraus Best New Plays); Bovver Boys (Primary Stages, Cleveland Play House, Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Curtain Theatre); The Closer (GeVa Theatre – Davie Award, the Working Theatre); Inside Out (commissioned and produced by Theatre for a New Audience, Portland Stage Company, Nebraska Repertory Theatre); The Last Temptation of Joe Hill (Working Theatre); Blanco (Goodspeed Opera House Norma Terris Theatre); White Trash (West Bank Cabaret); San Antonio Sunset (published in Best Short Plays and produced in New York, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, Mumbai). Voices in Conflict (created with Wilton, Conn., high school students, was presented at the Public Theatre, the Vineyard Theatre and the Culture Project). Holtzman wrote and executive produced the independent film Edge of America (2004 Sundance Film Festival Opening Night selection, Tribeca Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival – Best Picture) for which he received the Peabody Award, the Humanitas Prize and the Writers Guild Award. Blood Brothers(HBO, Cine Golden Eagle); and A Body to Die For (Emmy nomination). Holtzman received the HBO Award at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. He has taught writing to at-risk teens at Bronx Regional High School in South Bronx, and was the Lila Wallace Resident Playwright at Juilliard. He has worked with young writers through the 52d Street Project in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen and on the Navajo reservation. He serves on the board of New Dramatists (where as a member he received the Calloway Award) and Harlem Stage Company.