JZ Holden’s play tells tale of Jewish nightclub owner during WWII

War’s Psychological Landscape




The JDT Lab at Guild Hall is a place for new plays to be showcased, free to the public, and often featuring out-of-towners. But on Sunday, October 20, JDT Lab in the John Drew Theater, presents a first full-length play, “Kingdom of the Spirits,” by one of our own, JZ Holden.

She has written for the Southampton and East Hampton Press, Dan’s Papers, Hamptons.com, and Hamptons Magazine, and was the editor of The Montauk Pioneer. She created the first green magazine of the Hamptons, Ecothink. But she also ventured into the world of fiction with her novel “Illusion of Memory,” which was published in 2013, and a short story, “Summer Love,” which was part of the Long Island Noir collection.

Holden previously showcased a one-act, “Last Chance” at the Writer’s Lab at Guild Hall 15 years ago, but this is her first go at a full-length play, intriguingly based on her own background.

Set in Berlin, “Kingdom of the Spirits” tells the tale of a Jewish nightclub owner in the midst of Hitler’s rise to power, who is warned by her lover, who is now a powerful Nazi general, that she must leave Berlin. No longer able to protect her, he has conceived of a way for her to escape, but she only agrees to it if he promises to protect her family.

“The political climate of war and its psychological landscape is the place where ‘Kingdom of the Spirits’ takes place, misinformation is rife, collaboration and collusion are temptations too difficult to dismiss, and death is one poor decision away” reads the description on the www.guildhall.org website. It “is a story about the price we pay for forbidden love, betrayal, political complicity, and ultimately, survival.”

“I had a great aunt whose life was saved by a Nazi general,” Holden told The Independent. “She owned a nightclub in Berlin during the Weimar and into the Nazi era. This play is very loosely based on her. And when I say loosely, I mean it,” she said.

“I know the real names of her lovers and read books about them as part of my research,” Holden continued, “but know nothing about what really happened. So, I made it up.”

Holden lives on Shelter Island and is married to the cartoonist, writer, and Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winner Jules Feiffer, who was recently honored at Guild Hall with a reading of his play “A Bad Friend” to celebrate his 90th birthday.

“Kingdom of the Spirits” can be seen on Sunday, October 20, at 7 PM. Tickets are free, but reservations are strongly suggested. Visit Guild Hall’s website, or call the box office at 631-324-4050.

bridget@indyeastend.com