The Maids

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ISBN 9780571251148 Format Paperback
9780571251148
Paperback
Published 16/04/2009 Length 44 pages
44

About Book

The Maids (Les Bonnes, here translated by Bernard Frechtman) is Jean Genet's most oft-revived work for the stage. First performed in Paris in 1947, its action was inspired by a real-life scandal, the murder by two maids, sisters Christine and Léa Papin, of their mistress and her daughter. Genet's maids - Solange and Claire - occupy themselves, whenever their Madame is out of doors, by acting out ritualised fantasies of revenging their downtrodden status. But when the game goes beyond their control the maids are compelled to try to make their fantasy a reality.

'The most extraordinary example of the whirligigs of being and appearance, of the imaginary and the real, is to be found in [Genet's] The Maids. It is the element of fake, of sham, of artificiality, that attracts Genet in the theatre.' Jean-Paul Sartre

The Maids (Les Bonnes, here translated by Bernard Frechtman) is Jean Genet's most oft-revived work for the stage. First performed in Paris in 1947, its action was inspired by a real-life scandal, the murder by two maids, sisters Christine and Léa Papin, of their mistress and her daughter. Genet's maids - Solange and Claire - occupy themselves, whenever their Madame is out of doors, by acting out ritualised fantasies of revenging their downtrodden status. But when the game goes beyond their control the maids are compelled to try to make their fantasy a reality.'The most extraordinary example of the whirligigs of being and appearance, of the imaginary and the real, is to be found in [Genet's] The Maids. It is the element of fake, of sham, of artificiality, that attracts Genet in the theatre.' Jean-Paul Sartre
  • About Jean Genet

    Jean Genet was born in Paris in 1910. An illegitimate child who never knew his parents, he was abandoned to the Public Assistance Authorities. He was ten when he was sent to a reformatory for stealing; thereafter he spent time in the prisons of nearly every country he visited in thirty years of prowling through the European underworld. With ten convictions for theft in France to his credit he was, the eleventh time, condemned to life imprisonment. Eventually he was granted a pardon by President Auriol as a result of appeals from France's leading artists and writers led by Jean Cocteau.$$$His first novel, Our Lady of the Flowers, was written while he was in prison, followed by Miracle of the Rose, the autobiographical The Thief's Journal, Querelle of Brest and Funeral Rites. He wrote six plays: The Balcony, The Blacks, The Screens, The Maids, Deathwatch and Splendid's (the manuscript of which was rediscovered only in 1993). Jean Genet died in 1986.

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  • Translated By: Andrew Upton

    Andrew Upton is Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, where his first play, Hanging Man, was staged in 2002, followed by Riflemind in 2007. He has adapted a number of classics for the company, and in 2007 his version of Gorky's Philistines was seen at the National Theatre in London, followed by Bulgakov's The White Guard (2010) and Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (2011). He wrote the films Bangers (1999), which he also directed, and Gone (2006), and the libretto for Alan John's opera Through the Looking Glass (2008).

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