Director Kathryn Hamilton and Sister Sylvester company members have partnered with domestic household workers in New York City to devise a response to Jean Genet’s notorious 1947 one-act The Maids. Using Genet’s central device of maids role-playing as their employer to expose the subtle (and not-so-subtle) humiliations involved in domestic labor and the experience of immigrants, the performance invites contemporary domestics to use the theatrical space to stage experiences from their own lives. What emerges is a portrait of two separate New York Cities: a city that serves and a city that is served. One is for the increasingly affluent English speakers who can afford domestic workers, while the other—separated by language—is that of precarious laborers, often illegal immigrants, who serve them. In the waste and excess of this rich people’s playground, who cleans up the mess?
Navigating the intersecting fault lines of labor, language and power, the show presents stories and experiences culled from the experiences of our collaborators in the their time as domestic workers, which are used to give depth and perspective to Genet’s celebration of ritual transgression through a “maids’ rebellion.” The show is performed in the native languages of the performers: English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Text by: Jean Genet & Devised by Company
Directed by: Kathryn Hamilton
Dramaturgy by: Jeremy M. Barker
Lighting Design by: Bruce Steinberg
Sculptural Objects by: Juan Betancurth
PREMIERE AT ABRONS ART CENTER, NOVEMBER 2014
Company: Laudicea Calixto, Sofia Ortega Cordoba, Terence Mintern, Rita Oliveira, Isabel Sanchez
Scenic Design by: Damon Pelletier
Video Design by: Brian Oh
Stage Manager: Emily Wright
Assistant Stage Manager: Giovanna Almeid
Assistant Lighting Design by: Anthony Tornambene
Master Electrician: Eileen Goddard
Additional translations by Maria Cuater
AT THE DOROTHY STRELSIN THEATER, APRIL 2016
Work-in-Progress Produced by the Working Theater
Company: Giovanna Almeida, Laudiceia Calixto, Kathryn Hamilton, Rebeca Medina, Rita Oliveira
Surtitles and Translation by: Vanessa Bretas and Stephen S. Chaco
Director Kathryn Hamilton uses [the play] as a springboard into the most unstylish thing imaginable: the real world. The refreshing result (half-documentary, half-Genet) is chaotic, but it's also productive and genuinely subversive…
More Press to Come.
The Abrons production was funded in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.