Traditional Drama 1978, Sheffield, 21 October 1978

Folk Play Home - Conferences Introduction - Author Index
Contents: 1978 - Apr.1979 - Oct.1979 - 1980 - 1981 - 1982 - 1983 - 1984 - 1985 - 1994 - 1998 - 2002 - 2011 - 2012

All the papers were cyclostyled and issued to the delegates. [Ron Shuttleworth Collection holds.]
All the abstracts were published in Lore & Language, Jan. 1979, Vol.2 No.10, pp.69-72.

  • Introduction to Conference

  • The Chapbook and the Pace Egg Play in Rochdale
    P.Stevenson & G.Buckley

    Abstract: This study describes the Pace Egg tradition in a Lancashire industrial town where chapbooks and other printed texts have been used by almost every known Pace Egg team from the turn of the century to the present day.

    Discussion is made of the way in which the tradition has altered over the years, and the part that the printed texts have played in this change.

    Examination is made of two distinct traditions. Firstly, Pace Egg plays as performed in the streets by children in Rochdale from early in this century up to the Second World War. This includes an examination of the Edwards and Bryning chapbook, and of the fact that very few references to the plays occur before 1900.

    Secondly, the Pace Egg plays as organised by schools and other institutions up to the present day are described. This section is mainly concerned with the Balderstone School Play and the Priestnall and Mitchell text.

    An analysis of the differences between these two distinct types of tradition shows that it is the institutionalisation of the latter which is the distinguishing factor, and not the use of printed texts.

    Ultimately, however, despite the fact that there are two types of play and two different printed texts, all of them are of equal importance to the study of traditional drama.


    P.Stevenson & G.Buckley (1985) The Chapbook and the Pace Egg Play in Rochdale
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1985, Vol.1, pp.5-20]

  • Excellent Examples: The Influence of Exemplar Texts on Traditional Drama Scholarship
    G.Smith [now Boyes]

    Abstract: A survey of the ninety year history of scholarship in the field of traditional drama reveals that a handful of abnormal texts has had a disproportionate influence on researchers' interpretations of the form and function of traditional plays. This paper attempts to reassess the place of these exemplar plays in traditional drama as a whole, and suggests an alternative view of plays, treating each as being of equal importance.


    Georgina Boyes (1985) Excellent Examples: The Influence of Exemplar Texts on Traditional Drama Scholarship
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1985, Vol.1, pp.21-30]

  • A Diachronic Approach to Folk Drama Performance

    Abstract: It is intended to stress the necessity of a performance orientation in understanding extant traditions of folk drama while offering a critique of the 'new folkleristics' exclusivity of perspective. If we accept the need for better documentation of traditions as 'total behavioural events' then a working methodology needs to be constructed. A discussion is made of one such methodology developed from my own initial fieldwork in three centres; Antrobus, Bampton and Ripon, which relates contemporary form and function in terms of the dramatic event while stressing the need for a diachronic perspective.

    [Published as:

    Peter Harrop (1985) An Approach to the Performance of English Folk Drama
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1985, Vol.1, pp.31-42]

  • The Problems of Analysing Folk Play Cast Lists Using Numerical Methods

    Abstract: This study is not a mathematical discussion of numerical analysis, rather it highlights the problems that arise in preparing cast list data for analysis.

    Apart from the need to exclude incomplete cast lists, and the difficulties of dealing with hybrid characters, the main problems arise from variations in the naming of characters in sources, since the variant names for each character have to be unified to permit analysis. These variations mainly result from informants and/or collectors using names in the line tags and commentary which do not tally with names given in the dialogue. If the character is not named in the dialogue, the amount of variation is even greater.

    Several techniques and aids are described which help to resolve these problems, using examples and statistical data drawn from Nottinghamshire plays.

    [Published (with abridged examples):

    P.T.Millington (1988) The Problems of Analysing Folk Play Cast Lists Using Numerical Methods
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1988, Vol.2, pp.30-44]

  • The Problems of Analysis of Traditional Drama Texts: A Taxonomic Approach

    Abstract: One of the major problems of the analysis of traditional plays texts is in finding a method of quantifying the similarity of any pair of texts. This paper sets out one possible approach to this problem, using cluster analysis techniques and illustrates the method adopted, by producing a taxonomic classification of sixteen T'Owd Tup play texts. The resulting discussion critically examines the application of this method of analysis in terms of testing hypotheses regarding the nature of relationships amongst the texts. The particular examples utilised concern the spatio/temporal distribution of traditional plays.


    P.S.Smith (1985) The Problems of Analysis of Traditional Drama Texts: A Taxonomic Approach
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1985, Vol.1, pp.43-65]

  • Research or Just Collecting

    Abstract: Brand published his Observations on Popular Antiquities in 1777, the Folklore Society was founded a hundred years ago, but there has been little organised study of traditional customs. A contrast needs to be made between the collection of customs (mere accululation), and research the attempt to analyse and draw conclusions.

    A suggested outline of standards for research is given which sets out the basic requirements for recording field materials in terms of the informant and the custom itself. The problem is to try to establish what constitutes a full recording of the nature of the custom, rather than what one personally finds interesting. The record should be as full as possible at an early stage, because later it may be impossible, for various reasons, to obtain further information.

    The Geographical Index of Traditional Customs is discussed. The Index was begun in 1956 with the object of defining the geographical distributions of customs and attempting to demonstrate their relationship to each other and to other features of traditional drama.


    E.C.Cawte (1996) Research, Or Just Collecting?
    Traditional Drama Studies, 1996, Vol.4, pp.59-75]

© Copyright 2004, TDRG. Contact:, Last updated on 18/11/2009