Also called Mummers’, the Mumming play is a traditional drama in which a doctor brings to life a champion after dying in a fight. The cast comprises of St. George who is a Christian hero, Father Christmas, a doctor, a presenter, and a warrior. The doctor restores the dead warrior back to life (Rozik 25). There is also a man adorned in women attire and a villages’ fool in bells. As characterized in the current times, other additional characters are present whose role is to collect money from the audience. In America, the Mumming play is usually performed in the week prior to Christmas. These performances are entrenched in mummers’ ancient traditions. The archaic play originated from British culture. It may include dance and song (Rozik 25). Of all the customs in the history of the English calendar, the Mumming play is the most misunderstood and misrepresented folk play.
Research questions related to the topic:
- Are there original mummers in the society today?
- Which areas do they inhabit?
- What are some of the examples of Mumming plays?
- What similarities do mumming plays have?
- What are the precursors to such plays?
- What is the influence of the English tradition on Mumming plays?
- Are there other influences, which have affected these plays?
- What is the modern take of Mumming in the film industry?
Objective of research
This paper will address questions regarding the development and origin of English folk plays particularly the Mumming play. This paper will also explore the folk traditions of the rural people, their way of life and the deep bonding between members of this society. In addition, the dress code of this community and the significance of such attire are crucial issues (Rozik 28). There will be references made to changes in the tradition of the mummers over the last four decades and the effect of the mummer culture in arts and contemporary performance of plays (Rozik 28).
It will also discuss the nature of the theatre company and the universality of the Mumming play. Though originating from England, the Mumming play has different versions in different countries across the world (Wickham 146). There will be a discussion involving variations in character and texts too. The research will explain the history of theatre and the theatrical policy structures of the European and American Council (Wickham 146).
It is necessary to tackle and explore the major theme of murmur plays that is the resurrection of the hero and the traditional customs. Several plays incorporate the hero combat theme. The basic plot of such plays is simple because it involves the fighting of a champion in war resulting in the victory of the hero and the wounding of the foe. Other examples of hero combat plays are tackled (Rozik 24).
In recent years, most scholars assumed that the basis of murmur plays is on Christian rituals because of the presence of St. George. The perception has changed over the decades. It is currently unpopular due to the emergence of other principles. There are certain common enacted rituals in Mumming plays irrespective of the geographical differences. These rituals are still practiced by some rural communities. In addition, some modern plays have adopted traditional folk styles in theatrical productions. The adaptation may be in part or in total (Wickham 144).
Rock, Eli. The Roots of Theatre: Rethinking Ritual and Other Theories of Origin. Iowa City:
University of Iowa Press, 2002. Print
Wickham, Glynne W. G. The Medieval Theatre. Cambridge Cambridgeshire: Cambridge
University Press, 1987. Print.