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The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays Paperback – February 16, 1994
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About the Author
Sarte won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1964.
Top Customer Reviews
"The Maids" has three characters: The older sister, Solange, who hates Madame and isn't afraid to show it, even though she's often maternal to her younger sister, Claire. Claire defends Madame at times and shows a creative streak. Madame is ditzy, sometimes generous - especially to Claire, and overly romantic toward her husband (or is it her lover?) who has been accused of various crimes by an unknown agent (it's the maids, of course).
If you don't know the set-up, the opening fantasy between "the maids" would be over the top and lead you to worry that you are in for a night of miserable theater. But once you figure out that they are play-acting and practicing the murder of their Madame, it all becomes much more interesting. Genet wanted the three characters to be played by men, which would explode the themes of falseness and theatricality. Like so much Genet, it starts out jokey, turns absurd, and ends tragically. I think that Solange's closing monologue is strangely moving as she moves between playing herself, her younger sister, and Madame. And the ending is shocking and sad, but I'm not sure that Genet is as interesting to read as he is to see or to discuss.
The 'Maids' is a play in one act with three charactors. Within this act Genet captures the role-playing of the classes of society rather brilliantly. He does not capitalize on the brutality of the actual case of murder (it is based on an actual murder) but looks instead at the motivations for doing it. There is a film adaptation of the story called 'Murderous Maids' which is pretty good but focuses mainly on the act of murder - and throws in a lesbian twist.
If you can't find a performance, you may still be able to see "The Maids" performed as it has been available on VHS and DVD. The American Film Theatre presented the play in movie theatres back in the 70's. Not as a loose film adaptation of the play, but retaining the play's script by filming it. Solange and Claire were played by Glenda Jackson and Susannah York. I saw it but it was so long ago all I remember was its power.
Who, when honest, likes their job and the inevitable kowtowing to the boss? B.F. Skinner in "Science and Human Behavior" wrote: "Payment of wages is an obvious advance over slavery, but the use of a standard wage as something which may be discontinued unless the employee works in a given manner is not too great an advance."
Solange and Claire at least understand the tensions in boss-employee relationships. Each realizes how easy it is to lose oneself in a role. Have we, in adjusting to meet our boss's expectations, internalized too well what it is to be the boss?
But the extent to which our need to work shapes who we are isn't something we are usually conscious of. Perhaps it would be too painful. The desire to be like the boss, the resentment of the boss, the confusion due to our jobs about who we really are: this and more is explored by Genet thru Solange and Claire. Brilliant insights, brilliant language. Our unnoticed thoughts made explicit in ceremony by these maids: we fail to see ourselves performing at all. Not like you? Read or watch again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm using it for theater class, mostly for a monologue search, and it has a short enough monologue that i can easily memorize itPublished 23 months ago by Vergil