by Jean Genet directed by Katie Bales
In the 1930s, two maids - Christine and Lea Papin - murdered their employers
by tearing out their eyes and then mutilating the corpses and bathing
one another in the blood. This horrific scene and these images must have
intrigued Jean Genet because, in the 1940s, he wrote The Maids.
Genet colored the bizarre psychology of women who may be capable of murder
with the improvisation of a child's game of dress-up and make-believe,
and shrouded it all in the veil of ritual and ceremony. What we are left
with is not only a chilling tale but a compelling journey through the
moments that lead to destruction.
The Shotgun Players invite you to experience this captivating drama and
lose yourself for a while. Where desperate obsession and relentless subjugation
infuse a fantasy with sensuality, and truth mingles with invention, you
have The Maids.
I am amazed at how often I am asked why I would even consider casting
women in The Maids. I have yet to find anything in the text that
really supports the common belief that Genet preferred men in the roles.
In fact, when I ask people why they believe it should be cast this way,
they cite Jean-Paul Sartre's Saint Genet instead of any of Genet's
own writings. I am concerned for people who simply take Sartre's word
as truth. Read his book, decide for yourself, and remember that it was
Sartre who seemed to worship Genet, not the other way around. Actually,
there is no definitive proof that Genet did intend his characters in The
Maids to be played by men. According to biographer Edmund White, Genet
actually preferred Jacques Derrida's study of him to Sartre's. In Derrida's
interview with Genet in the 1970s, in the wake of a number of all-male
produictions, Genet claimed never to have even suggested such casting!
What is important to me is that the play is relevant and accessible. I
find the truth of these characters captivating, disturbing, intriguing.
In a world where every day we hear of unimaginable acts and wonder how
someone could do that or what could have been going through their minds,
Genet offers us this peek inside. I want to bring the audience into Claire
and Solange's world, to believe in them and care about what happens to
them. That, to me, is the stuff of interesting theatre.
Papa as Claire
Eaton Fairfield as Solange
Beth Donohue as Madame
Andrea Bechert, production
Alex Lopez, lighting and sound technician
Richard Reinholdt, publicity
Benjamin Lovejoy, graphic design
Patrick Dooley, artistic director
Opened: Saturday, August 17, 1996
Performed: Thursday & Friday & Saturday at 8:00 pm
Performed At: La
Val's Subterranean Theatre, 1834 Euclid Avenue, Berkeley
Closed: September 14, 1996
Patrick went to Virginia for the summer to direct some Shakespeare play
and left the reins (reigns?) of the Shotgun Players in the hands of
these five women. When he got back (two days to opening) they had created
this beautiful and delicate yet alarmingly vicious play, and sandblasted
steam-cleaned the bathrooms. This play also ushered in the era of Ben
Lovejoy of lovejoy(creative) (yes, the name is real): a skate punk turned
hotrod graphictician who decided he would rather thrash out designs
on a computer screen and leave the world's parking lots alone.
Dennis Harvey for
the SF Bay Guardian
for The East Bay Express