Following the success of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 events, the fourth symposium attaching to the Mumming Unconvention will be held on Friday 5th December 2014 at the Gloucester Folk Museum. The purpose of the event is to bring together practitioners and scholars engaged with this perennially fascinating and constantly evolving complex of performance traditions.

Montage of images from the 2013 Symposium
Last year's symposium. Click on the image for more pictures.

This year the call for papers remains a general one (see below) but we'd particularly like to hear about costumes, props, associated songs and dances, venues, performance locations, touring and audiences.

The symposium sets out to break down a 'two cultures' approach to mumming that has sometimes divided practices and theories, doing and documentation, archives and repertoires. Local historians, theatre historians, folklorists and anthropologists, mummers and performance theorists have all offered talks, papers, panels, workshops and perspectives on mumming.

First, we want to hear from practicing mummers, those who are out there performing in different parts of the UK and further afield. Whether you regard yourself as part of a tradition or revival, or as a creator of new performance that borrows from traditional forms, we are interested in hearing about what you do. We are interested in where exactly you came across what you do, where you do it, when you do it, why you do it, what people make of it, and how you go about it. We are interested in hearing about the commonalities and differences, the practices and personalities, the places and the people who engage with mumming. And we want to hear from the people who do it ... from the "horse's mouth".

Please don't feel we are only interested in formal academic papers. As long as we can have - or make a record of - your talk, the symposium team can pull the material together if we decide to publish afterwards. The important thing for us is having the opportunity to share our understanding and experience of mumming along with our performances.

Equally, if you are researching any of the following/related areas we would like to hear from you.

  • Connections between mumming and chap book texts
  • Connections between mumming and staged ('legitimate') theatre performance
  • The dissemination and migration of mumming
  • Associated performance forms and house visiting traditions
  • The ethnography of traditional performance
  • Traditional performance and the condition of 'amateur'
  • Mumming and performance mobility
  • Traditional performance, site and calendar specificity

We are looking for presentations, illustrations, or simply talks, of between 10 and 20 minutes.

See www.mummersunconvention.com for further details of the festival and previous Unconventions. Edited proceedings of the 2011 and 2012 events are available at www.folkplay.info - the Folk Play Research Home Page of the Traditional Drama Research Group. Click the link to Traditional Drama Conferences, and follow either 2011 or 2012 to access the proceedings, full sets of papers (© the authors and the Unconvention), biographical information etc. More information on the Folk Play generally is also available at www.mastermummers.org which carries photographs from the previous events.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Saturday 18th October 2014 with confirmation from the panel by the end of October 2014. Please contact p.harrop@chester.ac.uk.

Peter Harrop, University of Chester, on behalf of the 4th International Mumming Festival.