I just got done reading The Maids, and it didn’t make sense to me but I liked it anyway, so I read it again and a logic that should have hit me the first time began to fall out. The play is about the nature of status, I think. Maids = low status. Therefore the play is about low status people.
A couple of morals the play draws I disagree with. I don’t believe that low status always dreams of being high status. That’s what Claire and Solange dream of: being the next higher person in the hierarchy of status in which they perceive themselves to be. Only we improv’ers know that servants can be high status in the right context, and we know that some people enjoy and take comfort in their own low status.
In this play red, the color of criminals, equals high status. White, for purity, equals low status. Odd how low status sees itself alternately as noble in its earthliness and also as scum. According to Genet it can’t make up its mind.
It’s so obvious that this was written by a man. There’s a lot of pornography going on in it. We’re supposed to alternately enjoy and be grossed out by Solange whipping Claire. It’s somewhere between Marquis de Sade and Freddy Krueger.
If I were to write a play where the characters must be clearly and deeply exposed in a very short time, and if I knew French, I would write it in that language. The French are just nuts with their emotions, and in their writing characters lose their tempers and their cool about as often as they blink their eyes. This is a great convenience for a scriptwriter. Those who write about Americans and the English (Shepard, Pinter, Rabe) need to always be aware of that pained, ever-present wall of bullshit and solitude with which we surround ourselves on the street and in unfamiliar situations. If the French want to yell, they yell. If they want to cry, they cry. Very simple. At least that’s the way everybody writes it.