mumming play

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mumming play,

form of drama developed in England in the early 17th cent., based on the legend of St. George and the dragon. The central theme of the play is the death and resurrection of the hero. The mumming play possibly evolved from some primitive folk celebration. However, it is most closely associated with the medieval sword dance, which symbolized the reawakening of the earth from the death of winter. During the Christmas season a few English villages still present the mumming play.


See A. Brody, English Mummers and Their Plays (1971).

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Act out your own mummers' play and create a ghost story as you follow the Christmas trail around Harvard House.
Pace Egg Mummers helped youngsters of Bradley Junior School put on a special production of a traditional mummers' play, much to the delight of pupils and staff.
The Warwickshire historian, Mary Dormer Harris, collected the Stoneleigh mummers' play as late as 1925 from an elderly gent who had performed in it many years earlier.
But Dromgoole, perhaps assuming that his audience knows little or nothing of the previous stow, felt that beginning in medias res might be confusing, though the textual openings were both retained, each following the respective mummers' play that preceded it.
Greene states that "records for the [Antrobus] (or any other) type of mummers' play before 1800 are extremely scanty; during the nineteenth century, they multiply a hundredfold.
With Michael Boyle's help, Glassie wrote out the traditional mummers' play and the local school performed it.
The Monkseaton Morrismen and Folk Dance Club wowed the crowds outside the Ship Inn and Black Horse pubs in Monkseaton, with traditional sword dances and mummers' play.
But it got worse when they put on a traditional Mummers' play on Boxing Day, dressed as women.
The origins of the event probably go back to medieval England, where troupes of costumed performers roamed from house to house presenting the mummers' play, a folk drama, at Christmas time.
Now mumming, with its dressing-up and associated antics, was certainly there, but most, I think, would now agree with Ronald Hutton when he writes of the mummers' play that 'no trace of it has yet been discovered before 1738' (1) It is surprising that such a view could be proposed today by otherwise very well-informed writers.
Watching it, you identify with the medieval serf having to stand through a mummers' play or a benefactor like Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream who, longing to whip Hippolyta away, has an extraordinary programme of 'revels' to endure.
A traditional ceilidh includes all sorts of musical entertainment and there will be tunes, a Mummers' play and perhaps even some traditional pub carols.