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After Mrs Rochester Director Wins Top Award

After Mrs Rochester Director Wins Top Award

Polly Teale has won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Director for Shared Experience's acclaimed production of After Mrs Rochester, which has a season at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2004.

It comes to the Festival straight from a highly successful West End season.

Lexus Theatre After Mrs Rochester depicts the life of Jean Rhys, whose inspired prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, gave Mrs Rochester, the madwoman in the attic, her own remarkable story. Jean Rhys own life was no less extraordinary and provided the inspirational subject for Polly Teale's compelling play. Jean Rhys life is explored through her life, her work, her relationships and her obsession with Charlotte Bronte's Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre, a novel which Polly Teale adapted and directed for Shared Experience in 1997.

Diana Quick and Madeleine Potter created the double role of Jean Rhys. Diana Quick as the older, alcoholic writer about to pen her masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea, and Madeleine Potter as Ella, the young Jean who grew up in Dominica in the West Indies before being sent to school in England at the age of 16. Following a series of demi-monde jobs, Rhys settled in Paris and with the encouragement of Ford Maddox Ford, who also suggested she change her name to Jean, she began to write. She published several novels and short stories between 1927 and 1939, during which time she returned to England and then disappeared from public view until Wide Sargasso Sea was published in 1966.

Polly Teale is the joint Artistic Director of Shared Experience. Her work for the company includes her own adaptation of Jane Eyre, War and Peace and The Mill on the Floss (co-directed with Nancy Meckler), A Doll's House, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Clearing by Helen Edmundson and Fay Weldon's adaptation of Madame Bovary Breakfast with Emma.

It has just been confirmed that Bafta and Emmy nominee Diana Quick will play the lead role in After Mrs Rochester at the 2004 Festival.

London-born Quick has appeared in over 40 films and television series, appearing alongside such greats as John Gielgud, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Olivier, James Stewart, Oliver Reed, Joan Collins, Robert Mitchum and Christopher Walken.

She has starred in many popular television series, including Minder and Inspector Morse. But it was her role as Julia in Brideshead Revisited which earned her international fame and Bafta and Emmy nominations in 1982.

More recently Quick starred in the popular 2000 comedy film Saving Grace. She plays Madame Bianchi in a film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera due for release in 2004.

After Mrs Rochester plays at the New Zealand International Arts Festival from 17-21 March 2004 at the Opera House in Wellington.


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