Bad Bored Women of the Rooms


by Sabrina Mahfouz

A lyrical adventure through the centuries of women who have spent a lot of time stuck in a room and who have not necessarily been very ‘good’. From Nesmut, raider of Ancient Egyptian tombs to Madame Ching, the most famous pirate of all time, here are historical and contemporary stories of women who have been ‘bad’, bored and often trapped in a room. Fused with fictional or real-life tales from the performers themselves, this is not only a narration of doing epic, noble or naughty things, but that extraordinary thing of getting through the days as best we can, in a room.

This is a play about women you have probably never heard of before, doing extraordinary, criminal things and it’s about you – what have you been doing in your room all this time?

A play for those who aren’t sure they even like plays, not quite sure about acting either! But who are 100% sure they love storytelling, especially if those stories are theirs and those less told.

Age: 18+

Cast size: Any. The story is all about criminal and mischievous women throughout history but this doesn’t mean that it is female only – quite the opposite. How often are there plays dominated by male voices that have to be performed by girls and women because there haven’t been parts written for them? Men and boys might learn as a result of this process by stepping aside, sharing space and celebrating female narratives.

Warnings: Swearing and reference to alcohol

Can’t decide? Read an extract here…

About the playwright

Sabrina’s most recent project was her cross-genre show A History of Water in the Middle East at the Royal Court Theatre, which she wrote and performed. She is one of the inaugural writers in residence at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for 2019-20, and is working on theatre and TV projects with the Jermyn Street Theatre, Little Dot Studios and FX. She had three new anthologies published in October 2019 – Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making It Happen (Westbourne Press), which was shortlisted for the 2020 People’s Book Prize; Poems for a Green and Blue Planet (Hachette Children’s) and Sabrina Mahfouz, Plays: 1 (Methuen Bloomsbury).

Her theatre work includes Chef, a play about an inmate of a woman’s prison who is also a haute cuisine chef, which won a Fringe First Award; Dry Ice, her first play based on her time working in strip clubs, directed by David Schwimmer and for which she was nominated as Best Solo Performer in The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence; Clean, a play about three women who work in the criminal underworld, which won a Herald Angel Award and transferred to Off-Broadway in 2015; and With a Little Bit of Luck, a gig theatre piece for Paines Plough with a live UK Garage score, which has been performed across the UK, including at the National Theatre and the Roundhouse, and was adapted for BBC 1Xtra radio, where it won the 2019 BBC Music & Radio Award for Best Drama.

Sabrina is the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write (Saqi Books), a Guardian Book of the Year, and is an essay contributor to the multi-award-winning The Good Immigrant (Unbound), exploring her mixed heritage through the lens of British fashion. She won the 2018 King’s Arts & Culture Alumni Award for inspiring change in the creative industries.