Slaves to Image

The Maids was Jean Genet's first major text that did not have explicit homoerotic themes. Jean-Paul Sartre, however, claimed that Genet told him that the two maids should be played by men; Genet later denied he said this. The play's initial production met with mixed reviews. In 1965, the Living Theater, under the direction of Julian Beck, staged an unauthorized production with an all-male cast. Genet tried to close it down. In most subsequent and successful productions, though, men have performed the roles. So staged, the play becomes an enactment of simulacra dissolving into the very things they represent, even as the things they represent dissolve from reality altogether. Master and servant, image and beauty, truth and appearance

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