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Fancy Maids

HISTORICAL DRAMA

Fancy Maids
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After narrowly escaping the horrors of slavery, Idabelle arrives to the North only to discover the Fugitive Slave Act has made it impossible for her to find honest work. Left with no choice, she joins the women of Pinky’s Pleasure House, where she is confronted by a wealthy Southern-planter who finds the women-run business disturbing. After an intense altercation in the privacy of her room, Idabelle and the women are faced with a life-or-death dilemma that tests their morality and questions the value of revenge.
 
Fancy Maids explores a dark chapter in America's history with a new lens. Turning the focus away from a plantation narrative, the play explores the lasting effects of slavery.


SYNOPSIS


The play opens with Black women dancing freely and joyfully. However, the dance halts abruptly and melts into a slave auction for fancy maids. One of the women being sold is Idabelle. After being humiliated on the auction block, Idabelle runs away with encouragement from the other women.
 
Some time later, Idabelle arrives at Pinky’s Pleasure House, a brothel. The day is in full swing and clients are coming in and out of the house. Idabelle meets Louella, Tweet, and Queenie, escaped slaves that now work as prostitutes. Queenie entertains William, a regular client. He rushes to get dressed and leave, stating that his wealthy uncle will be visiting that night. 
 
With all the clients gone, the women begin to joke and chat amongst each other. The laughter is cut short when Pinky, the owner of the house, confronts them with drugs that she has found. Assuming that Queenie has broken the only house rule, Pinky tells Queenie to leave. After all of the women plead for mercy, Pinky warns that if she ever finds drugs in the house again, everyone will be thrown out regardless of who it belongs to. 
 
As the dust settles, Idabelle introduces herself to Pinky and describes her escape from Virginia. Pinky explains that the women who work in her house do so because no one is offering work to runaway slaves. While prostitution is not ideal, it allows them to save enough money to move further north and start a new life. 
 
Meanwhile in the kitchen, Tweet confesses that the drugs were hers and she had hoped that they would cause her to miscarry the child she is pregnant with. Tweet apologies for getting Queenie in trouble. The women rejoin Idabelle and Pinky in the parlour. They discuss the new law, the Fugitive Slave Act, that has been passed. With slave catchers taking runaways from the north, they all agree that they need to be more careful. Pinky leaves the other women to help Idabelle get ready for work. 
 
As Idabelle bathes and dresses for the night, she gets to know the other women. They each share their stories about how they escaped and the family they left behind. Idabelle asks about what it is like to work as a prostitute. While they warn that some of the men can be cruel, the women assure Idabelle that Pinky will not make any of them do anything they do not want to do. The women bond over some of their shared experiences and pain from slavery. 
 
Later that night, Queenie entertains William again. Without warning, William’s wealthy uncle, Richard, arrives at the brothel after following William there. Knowing of Richard’s wealth, Pinky wakes all the women to present themselves to Richard. A Virginian, Richard is very vocal about his belief in slavery and berates all the women with racial slurs. Terrified that Richard will invoke the Fugitive Slave Act, Pinky commands that everyone aim to satisfy Richard and send him out the door quickly. 
 
Richard selects Idabelle for the night, and the two are left alone in the parlour. In the midst of discussion and drinks, Richard strikes Idabelle in the face. He asserts that he can do whatever he pleases to a Black woman and it is his right as a white man. He throws her into the wall and begins to approach her maliciously. Meanwhile in the bedroom, Queenie and William hear Idabelle’s screams. Queenie tells William to ignore it, as it is a part of their daily life. William reassures Queenie that he wouldn’t do that to her because he cares. 
 
Later, Louella enters the parlour to find Idabelle disheveled. She tries to comfort Idabelle, who she assumed has been brutally raped. However, Idabelle reveals it is not her blood that stains her slip as she opens the wardrobe and Richard’s bloody body falls out. Idabelle says that Richard was going to rape her and in self-defense, she killed him. Louella is mortified, noting that a lynch mob will not care what Richard did—they would only care that he was killed by Idabelle, a Black Woman. William and Queenie enter to see Richard’s dead body. While William is in hysterics, Queenie knocks him out cold. 
 
When William comes to, he has been stripped to his undergarments and tied to a chair. To the discomfort of the other women, Queenie taunts William. She is elated that she can finally make a white man feel an ounce of the fear that Black women feel every day at the hands of their oppressors. She tries to encourage the others to take out their hatred on William, but they point out that Queenie sounds no better than racist Whites. Pinky arrives and reveals that she has hidden Richard’s body, but they need to decide what they will do with William. Queenie asserts that killing William is the only option. William tries to appeal to Queenie with their tender relationship. Queenie asks if it is love, but William fails to use the word. Hurt, Queenie stabs William. Queenie reminds the women of all the pain they have faced at the hands of white men: rape, violence, separation from children and loved ones, and cruelty. All of the women’s built-up rage, anger, and trauma boil to the surface as they and barbarically kill William together. 
 
Months later the women are still living together in the brothel, with a few changes. Tweet has had her baby and now there are more fineries in the house. Queenie reads an article in the paper that states that several affluent white men have gone missing from the town and a curfew has been enstated. They share a laugh over the article, as they are the reason the men have gone missing. Louella reveals that, after selling all the items of the men they have killed, she has enough to buy her daughter. Idabelle adds that with her share of the money, she is ready to move on and travel further north. Just as the women say their goodbyes, the police arrive at the house. 

QUOTE


Raw. Provocative. —The Ensemblist

WINNER – OUTSTANDING PLAY, 2019 RAVE THEATRE FESTIVAL


Characters:
Pinky -  Black, F, Over 40
Idabelle -  Black, F, Early 20s
Louella – Black, F, Early 20s
Queenie – Black, F, Early 20s
Tweet – Black, F, Fifteen
William – White, M, Early 20s
Richard – White, M, Over 40
Man – White, M, Over 40
Auctioneer – White, M, Over 40
 
Setting: Pennsylvania 1853

Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups begin at $90.00 performance for theaters under 150 seats, and rise depending on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote. 

Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote. 

An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

“A raw, provocative glance into the intersectional abuse and treatment dealt to black Americans, particularly women, in pre-abolition America. In the present day #MeToo landscape, ​Fancy Maids​ seeks to not only inform its audience of the obvious historical atrocities, but the parallels between slavery, prostitution, and a woman’s right to free bodily agency.” –The Ensemblist
 
“Infused with humor, warmth, and a sisterhood element…Hodge paints bold and compelling strokes and leans into not only each character’s appalling past, but future ambitions and aspirations.”–The Ensemblist

An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date, unless other arrangements have been made in advance with your Stage Rights Licensing Representative.

The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for FANCY MAIDS consists of: 17 Production Scripts / $200.00 (shipping included)

Production Scripts for Plays are professionally printed and bound with a full-color cover.

You will have the option to purchase additional Production Scripts at a discounted rate when you complete your Licensing Agreement.

Official Logo Pack Now Included! To help you promote your show, Stage Rights now includes a logo pack with your license. The logo pack includes high resolution versions (both color and black and white) of our show logo. The logo is the portion of the artwork with the title of the show. The surrounding artwork is also available for an additional fee.

Optional Materials:

Stage Manager’s Script – Printed on standard 8.5” x 11” 3-hole-punched paper, with the same page numbers and text as the Printed Production Scripts, but with more space on the page for notes and cues.