‘The Maids’ takes a chilling look at servitude
Nov. 15, 2010
It’s a tale of love, hate and murder, ripped straight from the headlines of 1933
France. That year, sisters Christine and Lea Papin murdered their employer and
her daughter in one of the country’s most gruesome killings.
In 1947, French dramatist Jean Genet wrote “The Maids,” based on the case. Next
week, the Theatre Arts Department will present Genet’s absurdist play in Price
Theater’s black box.
Director Kim Barber Knoll, Chair of the department, said the show is very intense.
“Genet uses ritual, fantasy and psychological manipulation to illustrate the maids’
misery and loss of self in a class-ridden French society,” she said. “It’s disturbing
and chilling how desolate these two women are, and what they do to try to keep
going. Genet had a very difficult life and a very personal point of view about
living a life of servitude. It’s a powerful piece.”
The three-woman cast includes Laura Hennesy as Claire, Jenny Crawford as Solange
and Anna Carroll Sims as Madame.
Solange is the older sister, and Jenny says she has a complicated relationship
with her sibling.
“She is very blunt, to the point and domineering, but she is that way because
she is trying to nurture her sister,” she said. “But there is a strong love/hate
thing going on, too.”
In fact, the tricky balance between love and hate is a theme throughout the play.
“My character Claire is Madame’s favorite, so that stirs up a lot between the
sisters,” Laura said. “But all they have is each other, and they feel trapped because
there is nothing else they can do. There are all different kinds of levels between
each of the characters, and in themselves.
It’s also been fun working this intensely on a character.”
Anna Carroll portrays Madame, who isn’t that much older than her maids.
“She’s only in her late 20s, but she has trouble finding the balance between reality
and what is in her head,” she said. “The challenge in a character like this is
to discover a part of yourself in the character. It’s interesting, but in this
case, it’s also a little scary.”
Knoll cautions that the play contains mature subject matter and themes.
“It’s more disturbing than shocking,” she said. “This is probably one of the most
difficult plays we’ve done since ‘No Exit.’ ”All the characters are very good at
manipulating each other, and there are so many levels to this kind of work for
“The Maids” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17-20 and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 20
& 21. Seating is limited. Call the box office at (706) 880-8080 or e-mail
to reserve tickets. The box office is open from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays. Knoll
asks that those who have reserved tickets and are unable to come to call and release
their tickets so those seats may be open for others.