The Maids – 6

Oct 27th, 2015

  • Reviewing our mock collaborative project
  • Continuing historical and thematic research on the Maids

Key Facts about the playwright

” I like being an outcast. just as, with all due respect, Lucifer liked being cast out  by God”

– Jean Genet

  • He was abandoned by his biological motherCamille Gabrielle Genet, who was a prostitute.
  • Growing up in the Morvan region, he had been never welcomed by the local people. Jean Genet also isolated him from the community by speaking standard French in lieu of the dialect of the Moran region.
    • Since his childhood, he identified himself as an outsider. This ultimately led him to become a ‘champion of the socially alienated and a subverter of traditional morality.’
    • This may be the reason Genet started to pursue theatre of the Absurd – an avant-garde style of theatre that rejects the existing style of theatre in the 50s.
  • He was a recidivist and vagrant. – His life was a series of imprisonment and escaping. He started writing while he was incarcerated.
    • His first novel Our Lady of the Flowers was written while he was in prison.
  • Jean Cocteau and Jean Paul Satre, as vocal supporters as well as sponsors of Genet’s, assisted and had a significant influence on him.
  • His relationship with Pablo Picasso :

Unfortunately, the Nazi Occupied French Government began to force convicts without steady income and housing. Cocteau convinced Marc Barbezat, a Swiss publisher, to agree to many of Jean Genet’s future works in order to prove that Genet had future income. Cocteau’s friends also began to petition the Nazi-allied government for his release, which was secured in 1944. Jean-Paul Sartre and Pablo Picasso were also early and vocal supporters of the troubled writer. He was not to return to prison.

How his experience shaped the play?

Abandoned by his mother, Genet had identified himself as an outsider since his childhood. He subverted existing laws and morality and spent most of his life in prison. His encounter with Jean Cocteau, Jean Paul Satre and Pablo Picasso, who soon became vocal as well as financial supporters of Genet, enabled him to continue his writing work. His personal background ultimately led him to explore the work of theatre of the absurd in depth. The Maids was a product of his personal experience; it contained the elements of the theatre of the absurd and revealed the dark aspects of society of which the theatre in that period didm;t wanted to show. Moreover, his sexual identity is reflected in his body of work, for example, for the Maids, Genet believed that the female characters should be performed by male actors.

Why did he write the play? Who was it for?

Production History (click to see in details)

Significant productions in the Maids history
Significant productions in the Maids history



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