The Ways we look at Mumming
This paper will consider the 'traditional' questions asked of mumming and consider how contemporary ethnographic methods and interpretations might stand in relation to those questions.
- What antecedents may lie with localised variants of house visiting and performative calendar customs?
- What is the relationship between the texts of mummers' plays and texts contained in popular chapbooks from the late 18th century?
- What is the relationship between mummers' plays and the 'pantomimes' created by John Rich and others in the early part of the 18th century as well as other popular theatre forms such as commedia dell' arte?
- Is it possible to trace a multiple historical dissemination of mumming both around Britain and following migrations and trade routes to Newfoundland, the Caribbean and further afield?
- What is unique about mumming as a performance form and to what extent might it serve as exemplar of located performance?
- Why does mumming continue to function as a popular meaning making activity?
- Finally - since the three Mumming Unconventions have sought to bring together mummers and scholars of mumming to share their insights into this enduring performance form - what new understandings might we be generating?
About the author
Peter Harrop is Professor in Drama at the University of Chester and currently Pro-Vice Chancellor. He gained his degrees in Drama, Education and Folklore at the University of Leeds (Ph.D. 1980) and previously taught theatre arts at the University of Addis Ababa (1980-1985) and Bretton Hall (1985-1996). He has published in Lore and Language; Folk Life: A Journal of Ethnological Studies; Studies in Theatre and Performance; Performance Research; Popular Entertainment Studies and Contemporary Theatre Review.