Article type: News
Tempus are gradually reprinting, with some changes, the county folklore series first published by Batsford in the 1970s. Changes include photographs instead of the rather charming, if sometimes unhelpful, drawings by Gay John Galsworthy. Whilst there is no extended section on plays, there are several references to mumming plays in Cornwall.
If you were not able to attend the exhibition at Gravelines, France, earlier this year (see Traditional Drama Forum, No.10), I can thoroughly recommend the catalogue which is extensively illustrated in colour and sepia. Harlequins, Wild Men, woodwoses, Fools, and Hobby Horses abound among the many paintings and prints which are illustrated in this catalogue which is a wonderful evocation of the European carnival through the centuries.
This is in series with the Folklore of Cornwall but is a totally new book and not a reprint of the original Batsford volume, presumably because Kathleen Briggs is no longer alive to bring out a revision of her text. Chapter 8, 'Making Music. Song Dance & Mumming' has the text of the Sherborne play and several photographs of actors performing mumming plays. It is however, a pity that we still have to read that 'Play, in fact, is a rather grandiose term for what is really a folk fertility ritual with pagan roots.'
Shropshire was missed out from the Batsford folklore series, it is, therefore a delight to see this new book by Roy Palmer. There is a chapter on Dance and Drama which explores some of the plays which could be seen in the county in the past and performed on a stage made up of farm wagons drawn up in front of a pub. The actors were local men and boys. The list includes such plays as Prince Mucidorus, St.George and the Fiery Dragon, Valentine and Orson. The chapter contains the full text of the mumming play from Newport collected by Charlotte Burne. Unfortunately, Palmer states that there is no surviving text for the other plays he records but he does suggest the idea of a reconstitution for an al frescoperformance. One which I would love to see. Can I put a plea in for the St George play?
Rozik's principal aim in this book is to rebut the arguments of various scholars who have suggested a ritual origin for western theatre; 'The thesis of this book is that theatre could not have originated in ritual.' [p.27]. It is immensely erudite yet easy to read. It has a chapter on mumming plays where Rozik focuses on the arguments of E.K.Chambers, the Cambridge Anthropologists and E.T.Kirby to argue that the ritual origin of mumming plays is unlikely and that these plays were not progenitors of theatre as we know it.
An updated version of a piece first published as 'The Early English Mummers' Play: A Contextual Reconstruction', Pre-Publications of the English Department of Odense University 31 (1984). Later versions were presented as papers at the Medieval English Theatre Meeting, 1996 and the Traditional Drama Research Group Conference, 1998.
This is a paper exploring the use of images of Fools in their various activities as illustrated in Books of Hours, missals, bibles and psalters. Well illustrated throughout the text.
A re-written text of a paper first given at the Traditional Drama Research Group's conference in October, 1983