About the Mummers' Play Index
'All over Britain, mostly but not always at Christmas time, it was once customary for groups of men to get together to perform their version of a mumming play. They would perform this play over and over again around their neighbourhood for as long as the season lasted and the play would ostensibly be the same each year.' From 'Room, Room, Ladies and Gentlemen: an introduction to the English mummers' play' by Eddie Cass and Steve Roud (London: EFDSS, 2002)
VWML holds within its collections getting on for 2000 full texts, fragments of texts and references to performances of mummers from all around the world. The vast majority are British, but there are some from places such as Newfoundland, Jamaica and Kentucky. Mummers' plays are generally named after the place in which they are performed, although some printed texts have more specific titles denoting a type of play, e.g. 'Peace Egg' or 'St. George' plays. The major collectors to look out for are R.J.E. Tiddy, Alex Helm and James Madison Carpenter.
During the second half of the twentieth century, mummers' plays evolved within changed social contexts. Some were newly composed, others re-written to take on more contemporary characters or references to new localities, while some have remained unchanged. Others have become extinct. Whichever the case, if a play exists in any form within VWML then it will be in its Mummers' Play Index.
To search for a play reference, simply key a term into a named field or search all fields at once. You may want to call up all references to a specific village or county, or a particular source, such as the American collector James Madison Carpenter. Or, to narrow things down, you might search on multiple fields. For example, if I want to know where Carpenter collected in the county of Lincolnshire only, simply key in Lincolnshire in the County field and Carpenter in the Source field. You will get twenty-seven records as a result. You can then follow up the references with VWML (access details are here).
As with all the other indexes hosted by this website, the Mummers' Play Index is evolving and will be extended over time.
If you find any errors, omissions, or wish to comment on the content of the index, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.