The Maids & Deathwatch

ISBN: 080215056X
ISBN 13: 9780802150561
By: Jean Genet Bernard Frechtman Jean-Paul Sartre

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About this book

The two plays collected in this volume represent Genet’s first attempts to analyze the mores of a bourgeois society he had previously been content simply to vilify. In The Maids, two domestic workers, deeply resentful of their inferior social position, try to revenge themselves against society by destroying their employer. When their attempt to betray their mistress’s lover to the police fails and they are in danger of being found out, they dream of murdering Madame, little aware of the true power behind their darkest fantasy.In Deathwatch, two convicts try to impress a third, who is on the verge of achieving legendary status in criminal circles. But neither realizes the lengths to which they will go to gain respect or that, in the end, nothing they can do—including murder—will get them what they are searching for.

Reader's Thoughts


I did this play in HS and I was the understudy for all three roles as well as the stage manager. To this day I find many parts of it to understand but I love it for reasons of nostalgia and because the language is poetic and fresh, even now.


A classic - looking at it for Madshag over the weekend, so I revisited it this week. Once upon a time it was my most successful POD project ever.




*Disclaimer: I didn't read the edition I'm reviewing, I read The Maids in the Norton Anthology of Drama*I have a mixed reaction to The Maids. It's quite a good play for the type of play that it is, and I can appreciate its metatheatrical qualities and its ideological/philosophical concerns with issues of power, violence, eroticism, and control. But basically it's not the kind of play I particularly enjoy. So while I appreciate the play and Genet's work as important theatrical influences, I wouldn't say I genuinely enjoyed reading this play. Not even in the sense that many people seem to experience Genet's theatre, which seems to be with a kind of stunned awe. For me this play simply is. I understand it and can appreciate it, but I don't particularly enjoy it, I would probably never choose to teach it, and I would probably be fine if I never read it again or saw it performed.I did actually see a teleplay version of The Maids a while back, without really knowing much about Genet, his work, or the characteristics of his theatre. I don't remember caring much for the teleplay at the time either.


I don't know why I always subject myself to re-reading "Deathwatch" when I pull this collection off the shelf. It's just awful. It almost feels like a parody of Genet, although he wrote it himself. Meanwhile, "The Maids" is one of my favorite plays of the 20th century. A dizzying ritualization of oppression, Genet's second one-act manages to be both ornate and raw, comedic and cruel. Anyone who's played servant for any length of time will immediately get why the plan to off the mistress is sound, even before we've met her royal highness. Is there a higher accolade than genius? Apply it here.


I love Jean Genet. You have to completely immerse yourself into his world, to get what he's trying to say. So funny too.


A very interesting take on gender roles, and how people mirror each other, draw from each other, change on the energy of each other, and have no real one identity of their own. Great identity plays. Sartre's introduction is very insightful.

Mark Spano

The maids is a work of genius.


My deepest regret so far in life is that I haven't sat down in an audience to watch a Genet play. "The Maids" is such a classic work from the 50's (?). Also one can't avoid this book in an used bookstore. Every (decent) used bookstore has this title in their Drama section. Get it! Genet is one of the great voices in literature and everything else.


gender roles, gender roles!i have to admit that if i see one more production of The Maids with an all male cast i'm going to barf a bit in my mouth. That being said, i love reading genet more than seeing it produced - however, that is possibly due to seeing so-so versions of it onstage. i heard there's a new production in chicago...


I saw The Maids performed once by the Towson State theater department. I saw them perform an Ionescu play too. & maybe Neil Simon's (?) version of "Awakenings"? A pretty good selection of plays brought to us by Paul (?) Berman (sp?) of sd theater department. Strange to remember b/c I have so little respect for the university or, even more so, the neighborhood in the suburbs of Baltimore. The Maids is a powerful play about the covetousness & vicarious living of people forced into demeaned social positions. Genet is, of course, a 'master' at depicting such things.

RK Byers

The Maids was just more French class obsession but Deathwatch was CRAZY.




just finished "The Maids" because it was first, but I actually started reading this because of a combination of having just read the Patti Smith bio and "Deathwatch" being the name of a song I like a lot which I am assuming is referencing the second play in this edition. "The Maids" was my first dip into Genet and I'm digging it. update: I don't think Deathwatch the play was what Deathwatch the song was referencing. It also wasn't as good as The Maids. Still, interested to read some of Genet's novels.


The Maids is loosely based on the infamous Paoin sisters who brutally murdered their employer and her daughter, in France (1933), though the play is not the story of the Papin sisters as such. Genet's original intention was that the two maids and Madame, be performed by male actors.کلفت ها، چه در متن، و چه در روابط شخصیت ها، به یک نیایش آیینی در لباس نمایش می ماند. "سولانژ" و "کلر"، دو کلفت خانه، در نقش یکدیگر و در نقش خانم خانه، تمامی آرزوی "دیگری" بودن را، در احساس توامان عشق و نفرت نسبت به شرایطی که در آن زندگی می کنند، نمایش می دهند؛ شرایطی در فاصله ی میان آنچه هست، و آنچه آرزو می شود. گفتگوها به دقت "در انتظار گودو"، شکل دهنده ی یک نمایش بیهودگی (ابزورد)، در چهارچوبی رسم شده، انتخاب شده است. سولانژ و کلر در نهایت تلاش، این چارچوب را می شکافند، و چون از قاب بیرون می افتند، در می یابند که این نیز، بخشی از سهمی ست که بی حضور آنها تقسیم شده، و برایشان کنار گذاشته شده است! آنها پشت ماسک ها پنهان می شوند، به همان صلابتی که انسان پشت آرزوها مانده. اجرای شگرفی از این اثر توسط یک گروه تیاتر مشهور اسپانیایی را در یکی از جشن های هنر شیراز دیده ام و بازی سترگ دو بازیگر نقش های "سولانژ" و "کلر" را فراموش نکرده ام. هیجان زندگی در پس پشت ماسک های متفاوت توسط یک بازیگر، در نقش های دیگر، به مراسمی آیینی می ماند، در حضور دیگران! نمایشی از عشق و نفرت توامان کلفت ها نسبت به خانم خانه، در غیاب شوهرش که در زندان است... در مورد "تیاتر ابزورد" اینجا را بخوانید

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