Gloucester International Mummers Festival 2013 - John Widdowson & Paul Smith

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Master Home >> Gloucester Mummers' Festival Symposium 2013 >> John Widdowson & Paul Smith

Traditional Drama in Newfoundland: Text, Context, and Performance


The traditional custom of Christmas mumming has survived in Newfoundland for longer than in most parts of the English-speaking world. While the house visiting traditions at the Christmas season have been the subject of substantial research, the much rarer custom of the mummers' performance of traditional plays has been surprisingly neglected. This paper introduces a major study which aims to identify, transcribe, annotate, and make available the unique texts and performances of mummers' plays recorded in the province between 1964 and 1969, and deposited in the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive. The tape recordings include full, partial, and fragmentary texts, together with details of context, costume, performance, and the role of these plays within the community.

About the authors

Professor Widdowson was former founder/director of the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition at the University of Sheffield, and Co-director, Institute for Folklore Studies in Britain and Canada. He was Editor of Lore and Language from 1964-1999. He is the founder/director, Centre for English Traditional Heritage and editor of the e-journal Tradition Today. Notably, he was a contributor to H. Halpert and G. M. Story, 'Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland', University of Toronto Press, 1969.

Paul Smith is Professor of Folklore at Memorial University in Newfoundland. He instigated the Traditional Drama Conferences series at the University of Sheffield in 1978 and co-edited Traditional Drama Studies (1985-1996). His most recent works in this area are with Eddie Cass, 'The Peace Egg Chapbook in Lancashire' (in press), and with Michael J. Preston, 'Sir Walter Scott and the Sword Dance From Papa Stour in Shetland, Including a Facsimile of James Scott's 1829 Manuscript, "The Sword Dance: A Danish or Norwegian Ballet, &c, As Performed in the Island of Papa Stour, Zetland"' (forthcoming).

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