Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Die Zofen

by Jean Genet

Genet’s The Maids was inspired by a murder case that at the time caused a major stir in France: in 1933, the Papin sisters killed their employer and her daughter.

Claire and Solange love and hate their mistress, and her mistress loves and humiliates them. They behave towards her with false submission, false tenderness. When they are alone, they pretend that one of them is Madame and thus entitled to humiliate the other. When Madame returns, they reassume their role of maids. In her turn, Madame is mercilessly kind. She smothers them with gifts. Icily, she playacts love. Madame is society’s idea of goodness yet is a fake version of the notion of fine society. All three express themselves with artificial, pompous turns of phrase to vent their yearning for beauty. Genet uses a language that celebrates the pretend glamour of a language for outcasts. In anonymous letters, the sisters denounce Madame’s lover as a criminal. When they learn that he was released for lack of evidence and their intrigue has been discovered, they unsuccessfully try to poison Madame. Baffled, one then tries to poison the other, and when that fails as well, one sister commits suicide. Madame and her maids are the erotically cathected power relationship inherent in all private and social interactions within our culture.

Premiere on 4 june 2008, Premiere in Berlin on octobre 19th, 2008
Co-production with Wiener Festwochen and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin


With: Caroline Peters (Claire), Sophie Rois (Solange) and Edith Clever (Gnädige Frau)

Director: Luc Bondy
Art Direction: Geoffrey Layton
Stage Designer: Bert Neumann
Costumes: Tabea Braun
Dramaturgy: Dieter Sturm
Light Design: Dominique Bruguière