The starting point for the form came from Genet’s text The Maids, whose multiple layers of roleplaying gave us an insight into how to go about putting such a complex topic and a variety of different voices on stage. Thinking of ‘employer,’ ‘domestic worker,’ ‘agent’ etc. as ‘roles’ which are fulfilled by individuals rather than inherent traits of those individuals is an important part of our critical approach to interview texts.
This coherence of this approach was reinforced by our reading into the Stanford Prison Experiment as a way of dealing with the question of abuse.
As always with our shows, objects and sound play an important role. In Not The Maids, these follow the pattern of juxtaposing high and low status, kitchen and kitsch. We are particularly inspired by Tadeusz Kantor’s work on bio-objects, and our approach to character begins from this angle.
Our approach has involved simultaneously writing, devising, experimenting and then going back to write again. We realised early on that simply illustrating the stories we heard in our interviews was a waste of theatrical space. We had to find ways of adding layers of meaning that were not simple repetitions of the interview content, but contained our own reception of the stories’ encoded meaning.
We turned to Brecht’s ideas around gestus for guidance, creating tableaux and situations exemplifying social power relationships. These began from our own experiences in research, such as employers providing drinks for us but not the domestic worker in interviews. This also forced us to confront our own roles as interpreters of information, and our privilege/responsibility in disseminating it.
We would like to thanks all our interviewees and their families, also to our collaborators, for the questions they have answered and the questions they have asked.