Friday, April 9, 2010

Assisting the Maids

Now that spring is here I find myself dining outdoors with friends quite often. Why, just the other day I found myself catching up with a friend while having brunch al fresco. I was telling him about my experience so far working on this French play called The Maids and he gave a little laugh. I asked "what’s so funny?" and he mentioned how Genet was an interesting playwright. Yes, as anyone who knows Genet’s works will attest to...but that got me thinking about how interesting this particular production actually is.

When you think of this classic French play written by Jean Genet, the team I'm working with is not the one that comes to mind. I think what makes this production of The Maids so different from some of the works we often see in the city is that it’s not about the people themselves, but rather about the characters and script. You have two actresses cast as sisters who look nothing alike, but you wouldn’t know that in rehearsals, an exquisite Madame who is in fact a man, and this drama is all coming together under the skilled direction of a woman with great comedic timing. This is a multicultural and female-dominated production, which is what makes it so exciting.

Now this is my first time working on a Curious Frog production, and the company’s mission of hiring people in roles that you wouldn’t normally hire them in is to be applauded. I myself am half Asian and you really have to go deep into the team’s bench to find someone who is a Caucasian male. Nothing against Caucasians or males, I myself am half and all male, but it’s interesting because we’re all minorities, and that’s not the relevant thing to the production. In rehearsals we’re constantly working on the minds of the characters and on the workings of the play. Yes, we’ve seen men in women's clothing and unfortunately time and again minorities as maids, but as French sister maids who dress up as their Madame in order to perform a ceremony in their attempt to overcome oppression? I think not! It adds more layers to these already interesting characters.

I will say as the assistant director of this production I’ve been put into the rare position of learning more about the female mind due to often being the lone male in the room. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for some interesting rehearsals. Just the other evening I listened in on a discussion about the milkman which turned into which hunky male celebrity he was in their minds. Even though the team is diverse culturally it seemed clear that all the ladies could agree on the hotness of George Clooney.

So that little laugh that my friend gave about the interesting-ness of the playwright is just a smidgen of how interesting seeing the show will be. This is a unique team putting together a production of a very interesting play from a very interesting playwright making the performances of The Maids not to be missed.

- Don Etheridge, Assistant Director

Curious Frog Theatre Company's production of "The Maids" opens April 24th and runs through May 8th in a loft in Chelsea, 7:30pm curtain Wed-Sun. to learn more about the production. Tickets sold through Brown Paper Tickets.

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