CHARLOTTE'S LETTERS

2020 Rising Artists Award / 1st Place Henley Rose Award / NEWvember Festival Dublin / O'Neill Semifinalist / Irish Rep's New Works Series / Top 25 Plays, Pandora's Box and other honors

(Full length) A fresh take on the Brontës, intertwining Charlotte Brontë's two years as a unpublished young woman at a Belgian school--where she became close to her married tutor/employer,...
2020 Rising Artists Award / 1st Place Henley Rose Award / NEWvember Festival Dublin / O'Neill Semifinalist / Irish Rep's New Works Series / Top 25 Plays, Pandora's Box and other honors

(Full length) A fresh take on the Brontës, intertwining Charlotte Brontë's two years as a unpublished young woman at a Belgian school--where she became close to her married tutor/employer, Monsieur Heger--with biographer Mrs. Gaskell's struggle to salvage Charlotte's posthumous reputation and feminist novels. When an alarming letter arrives from Charlotte's school in Brussels, Mrs. Gaskell is forced to investigate just how much of Charlotte's novels--including the bestselling but scandalous JANE EYRE--was taken from her own life. A play about love, friendship, and the making of art and identity.
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CHARLOTTE'S LETTERS

Recommended by

  • Chelsea Frandsen:
    26 Feb. 2021
    OH MY WOW!!!!(insert heart eyes here). Charlotte Bronte and her time in Belgium has always fascinated me, as well as Elizabeth Gaskell's fabulous biography of same. Jennifer O'Grady has crafted a beautiful love letter(no pun intended) to these two great women--one a writer, the other her biographer--and asks a question we should all be asking: is the "bald truth" always a good thing? I fell fast and hard for Heger just as Charlotte did and my heart broke for both of them. Stunning, meaty roles for women make this play an absolute winner!
  • Jacquelyn Floyd-Priskorn:
    26 Feb. 2021
    I, like many others, have a great love for the novel JANE EYRE. This play feels almost like a prequel. It shows us a love that is earned between Charlotte and Heger. And because it is earned it is that much more painful to watch it be torn away. I didn't expect to cry reading this, but here I am telling my own tears to "go away." But it seems this is a story that truly deserves them.
    Just lovely.
  • Claudia Haas:
    30 Jan. 2020
    A gorgeous layered play about love, duty, and memory. I was hooked from the lyrical opening through the end. What does a biographer owe her subject? Absolute truth (warts & all) or a truth ensconced in the mores of the times? I loved the mixture of “duties” required by Charlotte to family, work, and her calling combined with Gaskell’s duty as biographer and protector-of-reputation. There is irony that while Gaskell cleansed Chatlotte’s reputation, she also preserved it. O’Grady seamlessly puts together a story of complicated women navigating a time that was not kind to them.

Character Information

  • Charlotte Brontë
    Mid-20s.,
    British.
  • Monsieur Heger
    Early 30s.,
    Belgian.
    Professor of literature.
  • Mrs. Gaskell
    46,
    British.
    A novelist.
  • Meta Gaskell (pronounced MEE-ta)
    19,
    British.
    Mrs. Gaskell's daughter.
  • Emily Brontë
    Early-mid 20s.,
    British.
    Charlotte's sister
  • Madame Heger
    Late 30s,
    Belgian.
    School directress and Heger's wife.
  • Woman
    Late teens/early 20s
    Plays Belgian Maid, Servant, Pupil's Voice, Louise.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Attic Salt Theatre Company (Asheville, NC)
    ,
    2020
  • Reading
    ,
    Yellow Rose Productions (Knoxville, TN)
    ,
    2018
  • Reading
    ,
    AboutFace Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)
    ,
    2017
  • Reading
    ,
    Irish Repertory Theatre, New Works Series (New York, NY)
    ,
    2016

Awards

Finalist
,
Lance Hewett Reading Series
,
Isle of Shoals Productions Inc.
,
2020
Winner
,
Rising Artists Playwriting Award
,
Attic Salt Theater Company
,
2020
Selection
,
World Premiere Club
,
Applause Theater & Cinema Books
,
2020
Top 25 Plays, Pandora's Box New Works Festival
,
2019
Winner
,
(1st Place), Henley Rose Playwrights Award for Women
,
Yellow Rose Productions
,
2018
Second Rounder
,
Austin Film Festival Playwriting Award
,
2018
Finalist
,
Talk Back Theatre
,
2018
Selection
,
Writer2Writer Program
,
Associated Writing Programs (AWP)
,
2018
Winner
,
NEWvember New Plays Festival Dublin
,
2017
Selection
,
New Works Series
,
Irish Repertory Theatre
,
2016