Paul Schelsinger / The Collegian
Kia Vassiliades plays Solange and Rishma Meister plays Claire in “The Maids” during a rehearsal on Thursday. The production by director Ruth Griffin opens Oct. 31.
Fresno State’s newest theater play will debut on Halloween for what director Ruth Griffin calls a “gripping” production of symbolist poet Jean Genet’s “The Maids.”
The play is a highly melodramatic and stylized piece, Griffin said.
“If I can think of one word, it would be of a dream,” Griffin said. “I think of it as a poetic space and even though in the interaction there is a lot of cruelty, I want it to be beautiful. It’s housed in beauty.”
Griffin compared the maids’ personalities to an umbrella stand waiting to be filled by rain-soaked umbrellas.
“They’re empty until Madame fills them from the outside world and she gives them a life,” Griffin said.
Samantha Hyde, a senior acting major plays Madame. Hyde said Madame is an extremely complex character.
“She’s multifaceted and you can never really figure out who she is and you only get the image of her through the maids,” Hyde said.
Hyde said that audiences will dislike Madame at first, but will later understand the vulnerability behind her “brave face.”
Hyde said the elegant, lavish attire the cast gets to wear is an exciting factor alone.
“It’s a teal, emerald, Indian silk dress that goes off the shoulders,” Hyde said. “I have peep-toed heels. If anyone is going to see this show, one reason why is because the costumes are drop-dead gorgeous.”
Kia Vassiliades, a senior acting major, plays one of the maids, Solange.
“Solange is actually such a good, caring, loving person at heart, but she’s been stuck in this world of being beaten down and constantly having to protect the ones she loves, and it’s turned her into this kind of violent, angry person,” Vassiliades said.
Vassiliades says her favorite aspect of the play is “the fact that we do get to switch between doing some absurdist style, some surrealist, some melodrama, and then realism” and “it’s very dark, it’s very twisted, it’s really a wild ride— almost a mystery.”
“The Maids,” based on the famous case of the 1933 Papain sisters’ murders, contains some violence, but that is not its sole purpose.
“With Jean Genet the playwright, in all of his plays, they’re plays about reflection and so mirrors are very important,” Griffin said. “The self is somehow unstable. The self is one image and then another image.”
“The Maids” premieres Oct. 31st at 8 p.m. and will run through Nov. 8 at the Woods Theatre on campus.