Scenic Design Process
The scenic design process of The Maids began with a thorough reading of Genet's text and director Vanessa Stalling's idea that religion and ritual should be emphasized through the design elements. The Maids deals with many socioeconomic issues, but the most prevalent of which deals with the rigidity of social class systems. The two maids turn to a game of pretend in which one is Madame and the other remains a maid. This practice becomes a ritualistic coping method, which then becomes a murderous plot that will result inevitably in ritual sacrifice. Through this sacrifice the maids hope to achieve their freedom from the "dirty," "disgusting," "shit" life that is the life of a servant. The scenic floor-plan created emphasizes the ideas of ritual and sacrifice, and is modeled after the symbols found of the Cathedrals of Europe (specifically France, where the play occurs). There are three doors far upstage posing the only entrances and exits to the space, laid out at the base of the cross. There are then three main "alters" in which the rituals and sacrifices are enacted: the wardrobe which inspires the costumed pretend of the ritual, the dressing table which symbolizes the vanity and prestige a maid can never have, and Madame's bed, where the final act of sacrifice will take place to set the maids free. Another idea that helped to inspire the scenic design was that of Metatheatre; the idea that the audience is constantly aware they are watching theatre, and that the performance is heightened. This is reflected in the final scenic design through the adjusted seating plan of the audience. For this production, the space was transformed into a stadium seating setup, rather than the usual proscenium setup that has been previously utilized, and intended for the space. The final touch to create the uncomfortable world of the Metatheatrical was to drape curtains directly behind the last row of audience, and entirely around the space, leaving the only visible entrances and exits as the three doors within the world of the play, at the furthest upstage point. This creates a feeling of claustrophobia that mirrors the feelings the maids share, that they are trapped within this world the play has created and that there is no escape except through the ritual which is performed.