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Outhouse Theatre, Sunday 9 May 2010

In association with the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.



USA, 1975. English. 100 min.

Dir. Christopher Miles. Script: Robert Enders, from the play by Jean GenetCast: Glenda Jackson and Susannah York



As we know, cinema has had a very productive relationship with its older sibling the theatre and gay cinema is no exception.  For this collaboration between the newly launched Dublin LGBT film club (the Film Qlub), and the well established Gay Theatre Festival, we have chosen to focus on Jean Genet. He is best know as a playwright, for uncompromising and technically ambitious plays, which have become part of the classic repertoire.

Genet’s play The Maids was based on real events, which also inspired a number of films of exceptional quality, such as La Ceremonie and Sister my Sister. For our double-bill, we will be recovering a lesser known version, a film which is decidedly theatrical, and very proud of that fact.

The 1975 The Maids is the result of a remarkable collaboration between the director (Christopher Miles), and the lead actors (Glenda Kackson and Susannah York), who had also headed the cast in a successful early run of the play in the US.

Throughout filming, the actors and the director decided together how to shot the scenes most effectively. This unusual working method, born of a mutual respect between the dramatic and the cinematic, resulted in a technically hybrid performance-film, and a fascinating and powerful movie.

This film version of Genet’s The Maids is also interesting because it evidences the lesbian undercurrent in the play, making the most of the eroticised power-games which are central to the story. Although there is comedy in The Maids, in the form of  “high camp” shenanigans, this is in fact a very dark film. Like the original play, it is concerned with the psychological warfare between the upper class, and those who make their lifestyle possible.

Seeing that we are in the middle of a global economic crisis, The Maids is a fresh reminder of the fact that workers’ resentment is bound to reach critical mass, after which it must either explode…or implode.

Film Qlub

© Dublin Film Qlub 2010 

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