The Maids

I felt instantly at ease upon entering the Woolangabba Art Gallery for the closing night of The Maids, as part of The Anywhere Festival.

The instant rush of comfort stemmed from the sweet welcome, Stephen Nothling’s magical art, and the structural historical nuances of the building.

I had recollections of my elaborate catholic all girls’ boarding school as I walked up the stairs to the garret of the Woolangabba Art Gallery.

The character, Claire (Amy Hauser), of The Maids was walking, humming and ahhing while waiting for the audience to settle in.

On time, Solange (Re’anne Duffy) entered dressed as a maid and the corresponding scenes covered Claire as the Madam and Solange as the maid.

These scenes were alive, real and compelling and erupted to a crescendo, as the elaborate ‘red dress’ was unveiled.

The maids, Claire and Solange were on a path to destroy their ever-elegant Madame (played by Caitlin Hill) while destructing themselves.

Madame swaggered into the room, styled in a gorgeous sequined hounds tooth gown, and immediately sets forth her opinions, lack of empathy and hellish truth upon the fragile maids.

The Maids was directed and constructed to use every tiny bit of space of the upstairs of the Woolangabba Art Gallery with minimal props and appealing over the top creations of wardrobe by Harpi designs.

The actor’s portrayed their characters in realistic and captivating real time.

Spittle, tears, sweat and laughs were authentic and harrowing.

Genet’s The Maids is very much a parable for today with its brutal conflict played out between the haves and have-nots, and it challenges the audience to think about the possibility of change.

The Maids hits Brisbane in style

It is seventy years since Jean Genet’s The Maids was first performed at the Theatre de l’Althenee in Paris and it is now Brisbane’s turn to observe this modern classic.

Theatrical devotees are invited to attend the 2017 Anywhere Festival’s up close and personal version of Genet’s The Maids.

The Maids will be presented upstairs at the Woolloongabba Art Gallery from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th of May.

Anatoly Frusin, theatre and opera director and acting teacher at Southbank TAFE (where he is currently directing second year students in A Midsummer Night’s Dream), describes The Maids as a ritualistic and satirical examination of the power structures within society.

Frusin said, “It is wonderful to revisit this intense, confronting and passionate play again, I directed The Maids about 25 years ago in New Zealand, and felt the time was right to have another go with some of the incredible graduates from our Acting and Performance Program.”

“I was then introduced to a fabulous designer and recent graduate from the Fashion Program at TAFE and decided that the production must happen,” said Frusin.

The designer of the moment is Kristy Power of Harpi Designs, and her extravagant creations are crucial to the games of identity that lie at the heart of the play.

“Kristy’s amazing gowns are almost like characters themselves, and are integral to capturing the ritual masquerade of The Maids.

“Being in the non-traditional space upstairs at the Woolloongabba Art Gallery the audience will feel like they are both in the maids’ garret and at an intimate fashion show.

“Plus there is a cool bar downstairs!”

The rest of the creative team that is Mad Women on the Shore consists of Amy Hauser, Re’anne Duffy and Caitlin Hill.

The actors are several generations of graduates and Anatoly is very excited to be working with actors he has helped train and seen develop over the years.

Amy Hauser is an emerging Actor and Performance maker who has recently graduated from the Bachelor of Acting and Performance program at TAFE Brisbane.

She has a particular interest in creating, developing and performing works that are intelligent and are relevant to serious topics in today’s society.

Amy has done the majority of her creative work for stage theatre, some of her work includes, The Frogs (Xanthias), Mother Courage and her Children (Kattrin) and The Skriker (Josie).

She is currently involved in the ongoing performance art project House of Milkand has worked with multiple directors and mentors including Brian Lucas, Norman Price, Lisa O’Neill and Anatoly Frusin.

Re’anne Duffy graduated from Brisbane TAFE in 2014, she has worked with Metro Arts and was granted a two week Short Fuse residency where she created her solo piece Jar’d.

Since graduating, she has been involved in the 2high and FAST festivals.

In 2016, Reanne and Anatoly formed Mad Women on the Shore and debuted their first production One Women Wouzeck for the MELT Queer Artist Festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Caitlin Hill graduated from Brisbane TAFE, studying acting in 2014, she has played Justine in Sven Swenson’s Tiptoe, Willow in Girl cried Wolf’s The Wives of Wolfgang, Ensemble for Belloo Creative’s Hanako and Juliet for Share House Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet.

Caitlin created Boys Taste Better with Nutella with Peter Wood for Short & Sweet Theatre Festival, winning Best Script, Best Actress and Best Overall Production whick led to a development at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Genet’s The Maids is very much a parable for today with its brutal conflict played out between the haves and have-nots, and it challenges the audience to think about the possibility of change.

In this theatrical and dangerous game, will it be the Maids or their Mistress who comes out on top?

Death Shrouds - Latest Collection by Harpi
Death Shrouds – Latest Collection by Harpi. Photography by Nick Green and Bella Cullen