Randolph College’s winter theatre production will feature a dramatic tale of two deranged maids and their diabolical plans to murder their mistress.
The Maids, by Jean Genet, opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 11, in the Lab Theatre of the Harold G. Leggett Building at Randolph College. Directing the play for his senior project is Pyin “Peter” Bala ’16, a theatre major who has assisted with several other Randolph productions like Mother Courage in 2014 and Twelfth Night in 2015.
The Maids is loosely based on a true story about two sisters, known in the play as Solange and Claire, who served as housemaids for their wealthy employer, referred to as Madame, in 1933 France. When left alone, the sisters become caught up in role-playing fantasies that involve murdering Madame. One day, their illusions get out of hand, and their plans to murder Madame come to fruition.
Bala has been working on the Randolph production since fall 2015. He researched Genet and the history of the play, wrote an essay, and made a presentation for his class. He even went to New York City to see a presentation about how The Maids can be performed in modern context. However, Bala’s favorite, though also most challenging part about preparing the production, was analyzing the script.
“It’s fun to break down the different sections of the play and find the hidden meanings in the dialogue,” he said. “It’s a small production with only three characters, but you have to understand the hidden meanings behind each and every line they say. The script was written in French, but the way it was translated is very artistic and poetic.”
In addition to its complex script, Bala was also intrigued by the dark social issues The Maids brings to light.
“The two biological sisters are in love, and they love each other with hate,” Bala said. “In this play, there are elements from each different era since the 1930s to make it look like this could happen any time. All these dark things people do—murder, rape, revenge, incest, homosexuality—are still going on, so I want to show that it could happen in the present, future, or past.”
While growing up in Burma (now Myanmar), Bala wrote his own scripts and performed them with friends at an acting center owned by the American embassy. A WolfBane Productions performance of Bare at Randolph initially inspired Bala to take acting and production courses and to pursue a career in theatre.
Now directing his first show, Bala continues to be inspired by Randolph’s theatre department.
“It’s a small community, and everyone helps each other to put these plays together,” he said. “It’s amazing how individuals can collaborate to put this much effort into this big show.”
Cast members performing in the winter theatre production of The Maids include Marianne Virnelson ’17 (as Solange), Olivia Wray ’16 (as Claire), and Lucy Kindstrand ’17 (as Madame). The production crew includes Daisy Howard ’17 (costume design), John Ruml ’17 (lighting design), and Jacob Warner ’18 (stage manager).
Besides the opening night on Feb. 11, shows are scheduled Feb. 12, 13, and 14. Tickets are now on sale at www.randolphcollege.edu/tickets
Due to language, violence, and sexual situations, viewer discretion is advised.