Art And Culture

‘Papin Sisters’ at IAF

‘Papin Sisters’ at IAF‘Papin Sisters’ at IAF

A grisly murder committed 83 years ago by two sisters in Le Mans, France, inspired theater director Maryam Malmir in her new play named after the infamous killers.

Malmir’s latest show titled ‘Papin Sisters’ is on stage at Entezami Hall of the Iranian Artists’ Forum since June 30, and will run through July 20, Mehr News reported.

The 45-minute play is an adaptation of ‘The Maids’ by French novelist, poet and essayist Jean Genet (1910-1986) based on a true story, who also wrote other plays like ‘The Balcony’, ‘The Blacks’ and ‘The Screens.’

Malmir, 29, first came upon The Maids in 2007, when she was under the tutelage of the late film and theater director Hamid Samandarian (1931-2012). “We tried different etudes from the play, which were approved by Samandarian. Then I staged my own adaptation at the Festival of Tehran Theater three years ago.”

However, compared to the original version, the current play has undergone more extensive research and analyses, she said.

Malmir goes back to 1933, when Christine and Lea Papin worked as live-in maids, until one evening in a fit of rage the two sisters kill their employer’s wife Madame Lancelin and her daughter.

“I went through courtroom files on the two sisters. They were described as extremely quiet and retiring young women who kept to themselves. But Madame Lancelin’s treatment of the girls was not quite kindly.”

The story goes that one day when Lea, the younger sister, plugs an iron to do some ironing a short circuit cuts power supply to the house. When Lancelin flies into a rage, Christine grabs a pewter jug and hits her mistress over the head with it.

Geneviève, coming to the aid of her mother, has a tussle with Christine. Lea, hearing the commotion joins the struggle. After they kill the mother and daughter, the Papin sisters clean up the mess and get ready to sleep.

“Such fits of anger are not rare in modern societies,” Malmir says. “There are people around us who appear calm and casual, but commit murder if triggered by something apparently so trivial to us. Their act stems from some inner complex or a feeling of humiliation.”

“The set is minimalistic: four ladders in different sizes, a long table and a swing. The play gives no hint of any specific time or location.”

Sanaz Roshani, Mona Sohrab Haqiqat and Roxana Qari are the cast. The set and costumes are designed by Elham Khezripour and makeup is by Negin Basiri.