One mistress. Two maids. One murder

In Zimbabwe vast numbers of the population work as domestic servants. Not all of them are happy.

The relationship between mistress and servant is unequal, unstable and frequently volatile. Mistress is both mother and tyrant; Servant both sycophant and traitor. In this contract of inequality where do the boundaries lie and how can they be preserved? How long can the lies go on?

In May 2014 The British Council, with Giles Ramsay and Developing Artists, are to stage Jean Genet’s

The Maids. This shocking parable of power, corruption and murder will be presented at The Harare

International Festival of the Arts with two local male actors playing the Maids and international

Zimbabwean actress Chipo Chung playing Madame.

Jean Genet’s The Maids caused a scandal when it opened in Paris in 1947 for its stark portrayal of

seething working class discontent. This dark and brooding play depicts two sisters, servants in an upper class Parisian home, who nightly engage in a secret ceremony of revenge while their mistress is away. The story follows the sisters as they weave through past and present, fiction and fantasy, truth and lies, and finally, detection and escape. For Solange and Claire, the ritual becomes reality as they face the ultimate challenge of despair, jealousy, hatred, and sisterly love.

The Maids is the story of two outcasts struggling to overcome their servile, sub-human identity in a world that refuses to acknowledge them otherwise. Ramsay will direct the production working with local actors and artists at a grass roots level to create a genuinely collaborative production combining Western and Zimbabwean theatre skills.

Manuel Bagorro, the Director of The Harare International Festival of the Arts, said:“It is vital at this time that Zimbabwe retains creative connection with the rest of the world. The work of Developing Artists is essential in maintaining this connection. The challenge of staging The Maids is one that has really gripped people’s imagination”.

Post published in: Arts

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