The Steamieby Tony Roper In words and pictures …
Glaswegian women wash laundry at one of the municipal wash-houses known as "steamies". Normally connected to public bath-houses, steamies were used by the city's residents who lived in one- or two-roomed tenement houses, which were often without the facilities or hot water for home laundering. Steamies continued to be a feature of Glasgow life until the 1960s, when the arrival of launderettes and electric washing machines caused them to be either modernised or phased out altogether.
Women doing their washing at the Whiteinch Wash-house in the 1950s. There were forty-three washing stalls at the steamie. Each contained a sink, where women could do their washing by hand using wash boards they brought with them from home. The photograph shows just how much steam was generated in the wash-houses, and explains the origins of the nickname "steamie". Some women used prams to carry their washing and there is one standing by the stall on the right.
Partick steamie opened in 1914, with fifty-six washing stalls. The wash-house operated as a traditional steamie until the 1960s. • The washing was done by hand and was extremely hard work, but many women enjoyed the occasion as it gave them a chance to see their friends and catch up with the local gossip. • The popularity of steamies declined as more people acquired washing machines in their homes and as launderettes opened across the city. Launderettes provided more efficient electric washing machines and driers that took much of the drudgery out of the weekly wash, but many women continued to hanker for the sociability of the old wash-houses. Since its demise, the Glasgow steamie has become the subject of numerous books and articles aimed at the nostalgia market, as well as a very successful stage play.
Women went to the steamie once a week. The week's dirty laundry was wrapped up in a sheet and carried in a basket, a tin bath or an old pram.
Tron Theatre • Formerly a church, the Tron Theatre in Glasgow's Trongate, began life as a club theatre in the early 1980s. Its first professional season was in 1983, when Fanya Williams was appointed artistic director and she began to present in-house productions. The Tron became an important part of the Scottish theatre community when Michael Boyd succeeded Williams as director in 1986. • Tony Roper's play 'The Steamie' was first performed there by Writer's & Actor's Workshop also in 1986.
Interview with Tony Roper http://www.stv.tv?bcpid=45957155001&bctid=37338050001 Tony Roper was born in the Anderson district of Glasgow in 1941. Along with Phil Differ he wrote and starred as Rikki Fulton in ‘Ricky and Me’, a play that portrayed the life of Scottish actor and comedian, Ricky Fulton. His last project was writing and directing ‘The Celts in Seville’ for Celtic FC, which was an enormous success at the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow. However, he is probably best known for his portrayal of Jamesie Cotter in Rab C Nesbitt. Recently he was made an honorary doctor of literature by The University of Abertay in Dundee.
‘The Steamie’by Tony Roper Sugar-coated, nostalgic, sentimental but entertaining
Tony Roper His first major starring role was in Scotch and Wry. He wrote the classic comedy-drama The Steamie in 1988. He achieved even greater fame in Naked Video and in the spin off series Rab C Nesbitt, in which he played Rab's partner-in-trouble, Jamesie Cotter. Tony also had a small part as the village postman in The Wicker Man. Roper has also written Paddies, a conceptual sequel to The Steamie set in Glasgow's "Paddies Market", and two novels based on Rikki Fulton's character Rev. I.M. Jolly. Jamesie Cotter Jamesie Cotter is Rab C Nesbitt's best friend. He spends his time with Rab getting drunk at the Two Ways pub after escaping a row with his evil wife Ella.
Social, Political, Religious Issues The Steamie Humour Nostalgia Issues of Gender History and Popular Tradition Back to Steamie Menu Click to jump to specific areas
Social, Political and Religious Issues In ‘The Steamie’ • Nationalism and Use of Scot’s Language • Poverty and the imbalance of wealth • Alcohol • Housing, new towns and Social Change Back to Steamie Menu
Social Issues Nationalism is not featured fully throughout the play, however there are some passing references to the ‘English’ and the British films by the characters during the play; “I cannae stand the wey they talk aw yon ya ya ya.” – Doreen Money is a theme throughout the play. The women bring up money frequently in their conversations during their time at the wash house, in reference to the American houses; “They cost a fortune” - Dolly Back to Steamie Menu
Alcohol is mentioned a lot throughout the play. Most of the time, the subject of alcohol is brought up by the only male character, Andy who, is drinking on the job, yet accuses the women of drinking; “Do you know where they’re getting’ the drink fae Mrs Culfeathers?” - Andy This is ironic as, throughout, men are described as being drunk all the time; not the women as we find out when Andy has too much to drink. “Ah’ve hid a wee drink…but that’s between you and me” – Andy “He’s lying up there drunk already, oot the game, sick o’er the carpet, pig” - Margrit “Aye, he likes a drink your Peter.” - Dolly Back to Steamie Menu
Imbalance of wealth- in the play there is a clear divide between the hardship of the working class and the wealth of society. This is shown mainly through Mrs Culfeathers’ situation as she is a very old woman who is not particularly very physically strong but she is having to do a lot of hard work for her and her husband: • “she said shed been here since wan o’clock. Imagine havin’ tae take in washin’ at her age. Y’ed think her family wid help her oot.” • This shows that Mrs Culfeathers was from the working class part of society and was having to work till a very old age just to be able to keep herself and her husband alive. Back to Steamie Menu
Political • Use of Scots language- in the play they use more Glaswegian dialect rather than just Scots. However this does not seem to create the feeling of nationalism. I also feel that the use of the Scots language creates a sense of closeness between the characters as they use slang words and they can also make the play more fun and enjoyable at times: • “eh does she have bowly legs?” • The use of the Scots language make this more humorous and unique. Back to Steamie Menu
Stereotyping- in the play most of the characters are stereotypes but possibly not Mrs Culfeathers. They are all working house wife's with ages ranging from being a teenager to late sixties. In the play there is a lot of talk about how much the woman have to do in the house, how much hard work it is and how much the men do not do to help. We hear a lot about this from Margrit’s monologue “Isn’t it wonerful to be a woman.” • “you get up at the crack of dawn….you don’t even get a cup of tea before you tidy up. Then you’ve got to go to work..” • This is a a typical middle aged woman’s day with a family. This shows how much work the women had to do and then they were in the Steamie doing the washing with no help. Back to Steamie Menu
The Steamie Humour Back to Steamie Menu
Humour • The dictionary definition for “Humour” is : the quality of being funny. 2 Also called : sense of humour. The ability to appreciate or express that which is humorous. • The Steamie as a whole is full of humour so it’s quite hard to find just snippets of it to give you examples Back to Steamie Menu
Different types of humour • One liners/punch lines • Long running jokes • Double acts • Visual comedy • Patter • Dramatic irony Back to Steamie Menu
One liners/punch lines • A punch line is a joke that gets straight to the point and has an immediate effect on the audience • E.g. When Magrit refers to her Husband : “…His breath’s like a burst lavy, ye could strip paint wi’ it” Magrit’s joke about her husband has an immediate effect on both the audience and on the actors. Back to Steamie Menu
Long running jokes • A long running joke is one that will be referred back to through out the play and continually be made funny, i.e. the women's husbands are made fun of through out the play, as from the slide before the men are usually referred to as being lazy and drunk this is highlighted through the only male appearance, “Andy” he is shown to be getting rapidly more drunk throughout the play as a result he is proving the women's theory, all men are the same! Back to Steamie Menu
Double acts • A double act is formed between two characters to perform the same joke, Magrit and Doreen are great examples of teaming up throughout the play, • Together when they are on there own on stage there is the conversation about film and the actors. • The best example though is of Doreen and Magrit on the “Phone” when they fool Dolly into thinking there is an actual conversation on the phone going Magrit “Bring, Bring, bring, bring, she’s no in Dolly.” … Doreen (to magrit) “Ah cannae keep this up.” Back to Steamie Menu
Visual comedy Examples of visual humour in The Steamie are; • At the very start when the audience can clearly see a big sign indicating that no dirty overalls are to be put in the washing, then they clearly see Dolly putting her husbands overalls in the tub. • Dolly hiding under the sheet while she tries to wash herself while Andy gets into trouble by Magrit - “…insinuating that my friend Dolly’s washin’ is so dirty it’s movin’?” Back to Steamie Menu
Patter • Patter is much like gossip-which is shown between the women on stage. An example of this is when they gossip about “Maureen McCandlish” This is someone whose family they do not approve of- Dolly- “They’re aw mingin. The Sanitary’s never away fae them.”… Magrit “..I mean nane o’ us have goat much money, but there’s nae excuse for thon. Ye can aye afford a bar o’ soap can’t ye?” They also disaproove of her because they suspected her of “ hawkin’ herself”. Back to Steamie Menu
Dramatic irony • This plays a huge part in The steamie, this is where the audience know something that the characters do not, an example of this is how much Doreen goes on about “Drumchapel”-Doreen imagines this to be the start of a wonderful life for her and her husband, but in fact the audience know that Drumchapel did not become that great place she imagined it would be. • Doreen “Ah’ll get it eventually Magrit, ah’ve put ma name doon fur a hoose in Drumchapel” Back to Steamie Menu
Why is humour used • Mostly the women use humour to make good of a bad situation, in reality they have nothing to be happy about, there husbands are drunk already, they have a never ending amount of work to do and they’ve got kids to look after. • Humour is used to lighten the atmosphere and make the women realise that not all things end up bad- because hey they’ve always got their “pals”! Back to Steamie Menu
History and Popular Tradition Back to Steamie Menu
Popular Tradition • In the Steamie they have many ways to show Popular Tradition. e.g. • Songs • Hogmanay • Meeting together/ Gossiping Back to Steamie Menu
The steamie shows these women enjoying themselves wile at the Steamie. Although in reality it would probably not have been like this, and many would have dreaded going. Gathering together/ Gossip Back to Steamie Menu
Hogmanay • The play is set on Hogmanay which immediately brings to mind familiar associations to a Scottish audience. • They associate Hogmanay as a time that is spent with family and this is often mentioned in the text to Mrs Culfeathers who is not with her family and has been working long hours. Back to Steamie Menu
Hogmanay • They also show Popular Tradition through the women all buying drink for when they go home. • Andy “I mean this is no fur the management’s ears…….Ah’ve hid a wee drink….” Back to Steamie Menu
Hogmanay • You gradually begin to see that all the women have been giving Andy a drink just like Dolly, Margrit and Doreen. So this shows it was a popular tradition. • The audience would be able to relate to this comfort of Hogmanay. Back to Steamie Menu
It shows popular tradition and history through Margrit’s song “Isn’t it wonderful to be a woman”. It shows the role of women at this time and how they had to deal with work and family life, all without the help of their husbands. Songs Back to Steamie Menu
Songs • Dolly’s song “pals” also has this effect of popular tradition of women in there friends about there troubles. • Which many audience members can relate too. • Sung by Dolly-“when you’ve got pals You can aye have a terr If you want tae come and see me Take a dauner Doon the steamie” Back to Steamie Menu
History of the Steamie • The steamie was set on December 31st which is a good time to set it because many people will have memories of celebrating at this time and can relate to this factor. Back to Steamie Menu
There are many Gender issues in the steamie which has a lot to do with this period of time and how women were expected to do a lot of work. History of the Steamie Back to Steamie Menu
History of the Steamie • It also shows in retrospect about Drumchapel, where Doreen wants to live one day. • This place was considered to be a lovely place to live before it was built. Although we know now that it did not end up a nice place. Back to Steamie Menu
The history of the steamies themselves are important to the play. As there are none left and they have been replaced with laundrettes and washing machines. History of the Steamie Back to Steamie Menu
The Steamie Nostalgia Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Set in Hogmanay, is a sentimental association for every Scot. • The play is nostalgic because “Steamies” no longer exist. • The play is a comedy which relies upon popular tradition. • The “hard times” creates nostalgia and shows a view of people who stuck together. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Mrs Culfeathers- “Of course we had real summers then…” • She is looking back on her previous early years where it was lovely, and didn’t have to slog at the steamie everyday. • Dolly- “Zat a bubble cut?” • Shows old fashion hairstyles in those days. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Doreen- “d’ye want a hauf?”…Andy “But seein’ its Hogmanay… I’ll no insult ye…. But jist a wee wan mind.” • This shows the celebrate Hogmanay a very popular tradition in Scotland. • Dolly- “Get ma curlers in.” • Shows old ways to style hair because not many people use those now. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Magrit- “Ah liked the quickstep and the Foxtrot.” • Shows old fashion traditional dances. • Magrit- “Naw he’s staunin here wi’a box brownie.” • Shows names of the old technology i.e. cameras. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Magrit- “Staunin at Parkhead shoutin’ aboot King Billy wi’ the rest o’ the ijiots.” • This refers to popular tradition of football. • Doreen- “She charges one and six a washin’” • The old money in those times, covering the issue of money. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Doreen- “The weeks before four Fortnights the same.” • Traditional days off, public holidays. • Doreen- “They’re closin’ aw the steamies daen, they say launderettes are gonnae take over.” • This is nostalgic because “Steamies” are no longer with us and back then it was a place for meeting friends and having a gossip. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Mrs Culfeathers- “….And the whole of Glesca Green was like a sea of colour…” • Shows nostalgia- the old Glasgow. The Steamie’s still there no but no-one goes to the Green anymore, because there will be smaller steamies now. • Mrs Culfeathers- “There was never any loneliness in that place, naebody seemed tae be lonely.” • Shows old fond memories, rose tinted memories. Back to Steamie Menu
Nostalgia • Tony Roper shows a warm affectionate tribute to the community spirit of old Glasgow. • He relies heavily on the dialogue of the action and timing which made it a success. • But has the community spirit died out with the decline of these meeting places? Back to Steamie Menu