playing ‘the maids’

Playing the Maids

playing ‘the maids’ is a dynamic meta-theatrical montage of newly devised spoken text (primarily English with some Mandarin and Korean), psychophysical scores, choreography and live sound composition realized by an international ensemble of seven artists from four small countries working with Kaite O’Reilly (playwright/dramaturg) and Phillip Zarrilli (director). Sound artist (Mick O’Shea) and cellist (Adrian Curtain) respond to and interact with five female performers throughout the performance: a Chinese ‘madame’ (Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo) and two sets of ‘sister-maids’ (one Irish: Bernadette Cronin/Regina Crowley; one Korean: Jeungsook Yoo/Sunhee Kim).

This new multi-disciplinary performance is created between languages, cultures, and art forms to address issues of power/oppression embedded in complex human relationships—social and familial. Initially inspired by Genet’s  The Maids (1947) and its three figures–madame and her two sister-maids–our production is not a performance of Genet’s play. We have re-imagined and re-made the source as a multi-disciplinary response to the hierarchy and dynamics of power and ‘servitude’ from the unique social, cultural, aesthetic and artistic perspectives of the creative team.

Performance History

Granary Theatre, Cork Midsummer Festival (2014)
Tour of Wales, February to April 2015, funded by the Arts Council of Wales


playing ‘the maids’ programme

Contributors & Collaborators

Bernadette Cronin (Performance)
Regina Crowley (Performance)
Mick O’Shea (Sound Art)
Phillip Zarrilli (Llanarth Group, Director)
Katie O Reilly (Llanarth Group, Playwright/Dramaturg)
Jeungsook Yoo (Theatre P’yut, Performer)
Sunhee Kim (Theatre P’yut, Performer)
Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo (Performer)
Adrian Curtin (Cellist)


an intercultural ‘collaboration…[of] rare complexity, beauty and conviction’…’an aesthetic feast from the belly’…’stunning’ performances’ 

—Denis Lennon, The Public Review, February 2015

…wonderfully self aware…fearless…experimentation with style and form… 

—Chelsey Gillard, Arts Scene in Wales, March 2015

 …a dazzling intercultural collaboration…[the] cast…imbue the performance space with a concentrated energy that is utterly riveting…

—Phil Morris, Wales Arts Review, April 2015

Lennon, Denis. “Review of Playing ‘The Maids.’” The Reviews Hub, Feb. 2015,
Smith, Othniel. “Review of Playing ‘The Maids.’” British Theatre Guide, Feb. 2015,
Wentworth, Tom. “Review of Playing ‘The Maids.’” Exeunt Magazine, Feb. 2015,