Hong Kong has nearly 350,000 foreign domestic workers. On Sundays you can see them in public squares and parks; a street view unique to this city. These ‘maids’ flew from their homes to work in another home. Each week they work for six days performing household chores, taking care of children and the elderly. For one day a week, they are guitarists, photographers, rugby players… themselves.
‘Maid’, ‘Helper’, ‘Foreign Domestic Worker’… Apart from these names, how much do we really understand ‘them’?
- Hong Kong Theatre Libre Best Scenography (Nominated)
- Hong Kong Theatre Libre Best Director (Ivor Houlker, Michelle Li) (Nominated)
- Hong Kong Theatre Libre Best Script (Nominated)
- IATC (HK) Critics Awards Best Show (Nominated)
- In English and Cantonese, surtitled in both languages.
- Free Seating, no refunds after confirmation.
- The show lasts for around 90 minutes, please stay for our post-show talk.
- Latecomers will not be admitted.
- All rights reserved by Rooftop Productions Ltd.
- Friday, 11 August 2017 20:00
- Saturday, 12 August 2017 20:00
- Sunday, 13 August 2017 20:00
Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre Cultural Activities Hall
3/F, Ngau Chi Wan Municipal Services Building, 11 Clear Water Bay Road, Kowloon
The research of the creative team and the directors is presented successfully on stage, letting the audience hear the actors sharing their real-life stories, Tagalog, and their research materials, well-presented by the actors. Not The Maids has opened up an arts space which is not easily handled by traditional theatre.
The creative team want the audience to ask themselves whether we have unintentionally exploited people around us; their approach is very smart. What touched me most was the personal stories between the performers and their own helpers at home. They used their own stories to explore the question, giving power to the reflection.
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.
“You really become that person, you put on the uniform and you act the part.” - Guard Interview, Stanford Prison Experiment
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.