The Chambermaids

Written by:

Kathleen McCreery

Cast Size:
35

Roles For:

  • Indigenous Peoples: 1
  • Men: 14
  • People with Disabilities: 1
  • Women: 23

Genre:

Drama
Musical/Opera

Themes:

Immigration
Racism
Women
Women's Rights

Length:

120 min.

Year Written:

1987

Synopsis:

The true story of a group of Grosvenor House Hotel chambermaids in London, England, who, in 1979, took on Trust House Forte when their shop steward was unfairly suspended, and they were sacked and evicted. Divided by race, language, religion and culture, the maids found common cause in struggling for their rights as workers, as women, as immigrants and as trade unionists. Songs, humor, strong female characters, and an original stylized story-telling technique provide real challenges to students and community theatre groups as well as professional performers.

‘The Chambermaids’ has had 5 full productions: Newcastle Polytechnic (now the University of Northumbria) 2nd year Drama students, NE (UK) tour; Poodle and Swordfish Community Theatre Company, Chat’s Palace, London, UK; Malmesbury School, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, UK; Newcastle College Performing Arts students, UK; and University of Sunderland Drama students, UK.

Characters:

Ellen Docherty – 20s. Chambermaid at the Imperial Hotel, trade union shop steward, from Jarrow, in the NE.

Maureen Donnelly – Chambermaid, 20s, Ellen’s friend, from Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Miss Townsend – Head housekeeper, Imperial Hotel, 40s.

Mr. Hedington – Hotel Manager, early 30s.

Grace Williams – Chambermaid, late 30s, married, six children. Grace’s husband is from Barbados.

Emilia Montiel – Chambermaid, 40s, from the Basque region in Spain.

Anna Maria Villagra – Chambermaid, 50s, from southern Spain.

Clara dos Santos – Chambermaid, 20s, from the Algarve in Portugal.

Heather Graham – Chambermaid, 20s. White West Indian, partially sighted.

Brigitta Hartman – Chambermaid, 20s, German. Treasurer of the Strike Committee.

John MacCaig – Trade union official, late 30s.

Luigi Feghali – Waiter, 20s, Italian.

Luisa Dominga – Chambermaid, 20, Bolivian.

Miss Mills – Assistant housekeeper, late 20s.

Luisa’s mother and father and extras for flashbacks in Bolivia.

Christine –MacCaig’s secretary.

Miss Curlew – Hedington’s secretary.

Sally – Linenkeeper.

Bernie – Security man.

Alf – Security man.

Sir Albert Angeli – Chairman of Freedom International, one of the world’s largest hotel and catering chains. 50s-60s. Italian born.

Roy Plomley – host of long running BBC radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’. 40s-60s.

Commissionaire – Doorman at Imperial Hotel.

Dermot Kavanagh – Building worker, 40s, Irish. Trade union activist.

Hotel guest – middle aged woman.

Cabbie – Cockney, male.

Heckler on picket line – older woman.

Revolutionary newspaper reporter

Hotel guests trying to get cabs (2)

Head Housekeeper, Metropole Hotel – Could also be recorded/on mike.

Jean – Women’s Centre worker.

Police officer

Tracy – Right to work marcher, Ellen’s friend, 20s.

First Produced:

Newcastle Polytechnic Drama Students, 1987.

Resources:

The play can be retrieved by emailing the playwright at kath@kathmc.com or from ‘Workers’ Playtime, Vol. One, Seven Scripts from Seven Struggles’, ed. by Doug Nicholls, Workable Books, 2017.