This map was generated from the Historical Database of Folk Play Scripts (Millington, 1994-2006).
This line is one of simplest formulaic lines in English folk plays, in which one character asks another character to enter. Given its generic nature, one could reasonably expect it to crop up spontaneously in any play. It is therefore noteworthy that it is localised in the English south Midlands, where it is mostly associated with the Cotswold Group of plays.
It superficially seems to be an abbreviated version of another introductory formula, 'Step/Enter/Walk/Come in [someone] and clear the way', but there are some significant differences. Firstly, it is not part of a rhyming couplet. It may occur abruptly at the end of a verse speech, or it may appear on its own. Secondly, this formula mostly uses the verb 'walk in' with 'come in' next most frequent. This contrasts with the 'clear the way' formula which overwhelmingly uses 'step in' and 'enter in'.
Like 'clear the way', this formula may be used to call in many different characters, although in this case, there none is especially prominent. King/Saint George, Jack Finny/Vinny, and Beelzebub are the most common, each being called in in about a quarter of the mapped plays.
The formula is mostly used once or twice in any given play, but if we re-size the dots to reflect the number of times it is used, we see a number of locations where is used three or more times. In most of these cases, the formula is spoken by the same character - typically the play's introducer, Father Christmas or Molly. This contrasts with multiple use of the 'clear the way' formula, where characters use it to introduce each other in a chain. These differing approaches are akin to the calling on songs of linked sword dances, and are termed Hereinrufungskämme (calling-on stems) and Hereinrufungsketten (calling-on chains) respectively by German sword dance scholars (Tom Pettitt, 1988, p.53).
Historical Database of Folk Play Scripts
Internet URL: http://www.folkplay.info/Texts.htm, 1999-2006, accessed 27th Jun.2009
Ritual and Vaudeville: The Dramaturgy of the English Folk Plays
Traditional Drama Studies,
1998, Vol.2, pp.45-68