Go Back   EarthSong Forums > Enchantment > Folklore and Fairytales

Folklore and Fairytales Every country has specific tales that have acted like a backbone to its people for centuries-Folklore is the fertile soil of morals, heroism and fantasy. Come share stories and magical tales, from wherever you hail...

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-22-12   #1
ffetcher
 
ffetcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: South Coast UK
Posts: 2,788

Reputation: 265
Default Folk and Mummers' Plays

Since I spent the solstice night performing a mummers' play, and as the 'doctor' I had the most time to interact with the audience, I figured I'd write up a little of what I answered in case it's of interest to ESFers.

If anyone's interested in particular occurrences, the main clearnig hose for this stuff is at:

http://www.folkplay.info/

But in short, what is a mummers' play? Well, if you look at the link, you'll see that there are a number of distinct types, but the one most people associate with the term is the style we did last night. Father Christmas announces the event and calls in the hero, usually King George but locally often John. The hero challenges all-comers to a fight, for reasons that are usually completely unclear. He kills at least one enemy, who normally turns out to be Father Christmas's son, and is cured by the doctor. The Johnny Jack, or some other character, comes in with a collecting box. The group finish with a carol which usually lasts until the assembled audience have all been cajoled into donating. (In a quirk of UK law, one can only claim to be collecting for charity if in possession of a licence, whereas it's okay to claim the money is for the performers and then give it to charity anyway).

I'm doing five different scripts this year, in - actually I've lost count - performances, but the solstice one (or the Friday or Saturday closest) is special, in that the group of us take a local play (East Boldre) back to the villages where it was recorded, ending up at a pub run by a lady who actually saw it performed in 1934. The play's done by other groups but hadn't been performed in the villages for many years, until two of us, in a pub at Broadstairs folk festival, decided that we'd form a group explicitly with the purpose of persuading the locals that forming their own group would be a good idea. Sadly, that hasn't happened, but we're a bit of a fixture in our own right. We get together at about five, have three run-throughs, and head off to the first pub at seven, do five performances and usually (hic) geth giffen a dwink at eash one.

So, I kept getting asked, with it being death and resurrection, and at the solstice, it's pagan? Errm, well, I admit that I have been known to say that if I think it will part the punter from more of their hard-earned cash, but sadly, nope. You can, of course, use it as a magical ritual, but...

It started out as semi-professional entertainment for the 'big houses'. The style I've described actually started out as a pastiche of the 'quack doctor' and the death and resurrection is really based on exaggerated claims for the doctor's potion. The hero-combat came a bit later, but it's a pretty obvious plot-device. When it started out there was no set time, quite possibly the lord of the manor's birthday or the church ale. But when it started being done by local groups, doing it in the run-up to Christmas meant extra cash in a period when most day-labourers were out of work. In 1909, one leader I've researched, who was an agricultural gang leader - not badly paid - made more in ten evenings running up to Christmas than his normal monthly wage in the summer.

Which brings me to how many combats there are. There were just five of us, presumably all the people East Boldre could muster back then, or the minimum so that the pot per person was maximised. The actual minimum is four if you double Father Christmas and Johnny Jack. The play I did last week had six, which is good insurance because you can drop down to five if someone is ill. Boxing day has eight - I was hoping to watch but they've had someone drop out so I'm frantically learning a different doctor's part. New Year's day has up to fourteen - no-one needs the money, so anyone who wants can take part for the fun of it. "Thy fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth sons, father, are dead..." (actually, they're all piled up on a large tarpaulin, which, given that it's a mixed cast, would probably be illegal in public in any other context).

We perform in tatter-coats: jackets covered in rags. What the idea behind that? Well, the old guys needed to make some kind of show, so they turned their work jackets inside out and sewed offcuts of ribbon and lace on. At Sidmouth, one year, we used shirts from the thrift shop and glued wallpaper strips to them. Very sweetly, as I was trying to get the right money for seven shirts, the assistant said that if I couldn't afford them she'd take whatever I had. Yes, I do look that disreputable.

And we black our faces. Not everyone does. The pillow-cases are washing as I speak. That must be an insult to our black brethren? Only, I think, if you work for CRE or sell Socialist Worker magazine. It's a disguise. It's actually not a very good one, but it's a convention that allows the richer members of a small community to give money to the poorer ones without embarrassing anyone. When I was approached by a (white) woman selling Socialist Worker who actualy did use the term 'black brethren' her (black) colleague came over and told her to wind her neck in, then asked where we were performing in an hours' time, at which point he and a large black contingent came to watch. When a BBC children's programme refused to show footage of a black-faced children's group, Naughty on the Today programme was seriously suckered by the chairman of the Sands-End community group. "It's demeaning" he said, and Naughty fell for it. "It's demeaning because it suggests that black people can't tell the difference between an old tradition and an insult. And it's also demeaning because it suggests that if we can't tell the difference, we need a white TV producer to sort it out for us.

blessings
ffetcher
__________________
mankind's greatest advances are launched on dreams
(dedication in Tess Gerritsen's "Gravity")
...the dreams that stuff is made of
(a tee-shirt for the top quark team at CERN: now the title of an anthology of papers on quantum physics edited by Stephen Hawking)
ffetcher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-07-13   #2
Chronata
 
Chronata's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: State of Grace... and Cheese
Posts: 119

Reputation: 21
Default Re: Folk and Mummers' Plays

Thanks for the post! Very informative and really fascinating stuff!

I am always interested in traditional theatrical forms...and have spent many years cross referencing and performing vaudeville, commedia, Pantomime, folk plays and stories.

Currently I am performing a couple of Punch and Judy shows (both traditional and "politically correct" versions!)

But as an American, it seems that we don't have too many resources for these types of things...or even cultural touchstones. I would hope that some of what i do is Universal entertainment, but increasingly, it seems like my audiences have to be well versed in historical or traditional theater to even "get it".

I found it very fascinating that you do the Mummers play in Blackface, as that was a an old vaudeville form in the states in the early 20th century before it was shunned for being racist. I have tons of documentation in the states about this, but it's interesting to get a UK perspective!
Chronata is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-13   #3
ffetcher
 
ffetcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: South Coast UK
Posts: 2,788

Reputation: 265
Default Re: Folk and Mummers' Plays

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronata View Post
Thanks for the post! Very informative and really fascinating stuff!

I am always interested in traditional theatrical forms...and have spent many years cross referencing and performing vaudeville, commedia, Pantomime, folk plays and stories.

Currently I am performing a couple of Punch and Judy shows (both traditional and "politically correct" versions!)

But as an American, it seems that we don't have too many resources for these types of things...or even cultural touchstones. I would hope that some of what i do is Universal entertainment, but increasingly, it seems like my audiences have to be well versed in historical or traditional theater to even "get it".

I found it very fascinating that you do the Mummers play in Blackface, as that was a an old vaudeville form in the states in the early 20th century before it was shunned for being racist. I have tons of documentation in the states about this, but it's interesting to get a UK perspective!
Not every modern side/troupe/group performs in blackface, and even in the early 1900s when these things were first collected 'live' (as opposed to researched in early text sources) not everyone did. If I plot the descriptions that are definitely blackface and those that are definitely not, there are 'clusters' - the more affluent areas of Oxfordshire and the 'Home Counties' (the area around London) have no extant blackface descriptions. Rural areas (smaller communities) tend to have many. But just to buck the trend, the 'Black Country' (fairly affluent urban West Midlands) has mostly blackface. Since this is the kind of thing I do, I guess I'll try to plot up a complete map.

On Boxing Day, before our own spots, we stopped off to watch Crookham, a side that's been going for fifty years since being re-formed; it literally died during the First World War. We got to their first spot in time to be right at the front - I've only ever seen them from the back of the crowd before - and it was frankly scary. They deliberately break the wooden swords in the fighting and there was nowhere to back off. I've got some very good shots, though.

I counted up and over the period 4 Dec to 1 Jan, I did thirty one performances of five different scripts. The problem with this is if you're doing the same part in different scripts - the look on the faces of the others when you deliver a completely out-of-context cue probably confuses the audience. But not as bad as poor 'Johnny Jack' on the Guildford tour, who had been co-opted to make up the numbers. Half-way through the wrap-up, inviting the audience to donate, he dried, yelled 'prompt', to which the response was 'you haven't used any of the words in the script, yet'. I gather they're going to keep that bit in for next year.

My favourite anecdote along those lines, though, is from the local side formed around the Uni. I used to organise the pub gigs for them, and the shake-down (no substitute for performing in public, you can practice in a hall 'til the cows come home, but even two or three punters in a pub is vastly different) was always the station pub, where I was a regular. You get to thinking that the audience is only marginally paying attention if you do the same gig every year. King John dried on a key speech. I was about to prompt when a man with a Dutch accent picked up from the audience and finished flawlessly to the next cue. It turned out that he'd seen the play every year for about ten years. He was crew on a ferry and made sure to be in town overnight when we were on at that pub. He knew every part perfectly, so we stuck him on as Bold Slasher at the second spot (the only costume he fitted). He was back in two weeks, so we kept in touch and he performed as King John at all three spots.

He's trying to form a group in Antwerp, but although they understand giants there, they don't seem to get the idea of a small-scale play. How do you get Punch and Judy over with yer standard audience? Any ideas appreciated.

blessings
ffetcher
__________________
mankind's greatest advances are launched on dreams
(dedication in Tess Gerritsen's "Gravity")
...the dreams that stuff is made of
(a tee-shirt for the top quark team at CERN: now the title of an anthology of papers on quantum physics edited by Stephen Hawking)
ffetcher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-13   #4
aliciapaul

 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: US
Posts: 1

Reputation: 0
Default Re: Folk and Mummers' Plays

That is a great post. So much informative stuff at one place. This is really fascinating.
aliciapaul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-14   #5
ffetcher
 
ffetcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: South Coast UK
Posts: 2,788

Reputation: 265
Default Re: Folk and Mummers' Plays

Anatomy of a Mumming tour.

I'm not going to identify the team, because I'm going to say some things about a couple of the pubs involved and they'd be obvious if I identify the team (though anyone who wants to tag along next year, I'll gladly give directions). But, this is how I spent the latter part of the winter solstice. This tour in the New Forest works pretty much the way the original teams did, uses a script recorded in 1929, and takes it back to the original pubs. Almost. Well, it seemed like a god idea when the leader and I were in a pub at a folk festival a few years ago. The owner of the third pub actually saw the 1929 performance, which is kind of nice.

Five days before the tour, I dig out the script. I'm 'First Turkey Snipe', by dint of beiong the only one that gets killed, and therefore has to get up when cured. I'm not by any means what people would call 'fit' any more, but I'm better at break-falls and getting up than the rest of them. Of course, statistically, in 1929 we'd all be dead by now, if that makes any sense. 'First Turkey Snipe' (Turkish Knight) gets an in-cue, does two lines which have to finish with the correct out-cue, repeat process, followed by sword fight in which I die. I then lie there like a lemon for something like five minutes, until I'm fed a potion from a bottle. I then stand up, try to keep out of the way until I hear my final cue, at which point I thank the landlord or landlady and hope people will stick some money in the hat.

As I think I've said before, the perversity of collecting licenses is that although we're collecting for the local hospice, we're not allowed to say so, and have to pretend it's to defray our expenses. This tactic, however, actually worked well at Ascot Ladies' day, where at the first spot I tried 'it's all for MacMillan Cancer' because we had all the right documentation, and got practically nothing. Switching to 'Every penny drunk tonight, support you local licensed victuallers' association' and the money rolled in.
On the day, the first performance is at seven in the evening. At four, we assembled at the leader's house for a light buffet, then run through a couple of times, eat a healthy vegetarian and gluten-free hotpot. This under-rehearsal is actually fairly authentic: one of folklorist Cecil Sharp's informants told him 'occasionally we'd get organised enough to rehearse twice'. However, the original teams didn't have a problem we have – they just performed the one script. Everyone in this cast does at least two, and as I pointed out last year, I do five. It gets confusing. Sometimes very confusing. Now we costume up and put the make-up on. With four of us in black-face (mine has a white vertical stripe across the left eye) crammed as passengers into a Fiesta, stopping it rubbing off onto other people's costumes is... interesting.

Hit the first pub, one where the play was traditionally performed. There is a sort of gradient of performance quality. This one is always the start: they like us, everyone is proud that we bring the traditional play back, (although not quite enough to take it over, which was the original idea) and we'll get applause whatever happens. King George leads off, asking whether anyone will take him on with a sword. I pause. My cue hasn't come yet. It rapidly becomes obvious that he's finished and is expecting a response. Do I use my line, which makes no sense in the context, or do I follow his lead and take the line from the script I think he's thinking of?

In the end I did neither: I took the John Cleese line from Secret Policeman's Ball – 'oh dear, I appear to be doing the wrong play', then follow with the line from this script. So far so almost good. Much laughter. My wife is less impressed than the rest of the audience, though. After twenty plus years of marriage, I can tell. The next four lines are a bit like listening to two modems in the old day negotiating a comms protocol. Then he takes a swipe at me, I take a swipe at him, He 'kills' me earlier than expected so I miss the break-fall, wrenching my shoulder. I lie there listening to Second Turkey Snipe negotiating the fee for curing me, trying very had not to laugh out loud because, although this all went well in rehearsal, they've got the same 'multi-script' problem. The potion this year was baileys and cointreau, a distinct improvement on some – last year I once had white wine vinegar. I never did get my third cue. When everything went quiet I just launched into my lines. Then we sang 'The Holly and the Ivy', amazingly to the same non-standard tune and all in the same key.

Get our free drink, plus a respectable amount in the hat, back into the car, for the second spot. We do this one only because the gaffer thinks it's a good idea. It's a posh wine-bar. Last year there were just one couple, obviously on a romantic date and totally bemused by what was going on. This year there are four standing by the bar – except that they're all mates of mine who've driven out here only to find that there's no real ale. I have a brief conference with King George and we write the cue-lines on betting slips which are then taped to the inside of his shield. I don't get a shield, possibly just as well because despite the glass of wine my shoulder still hurts. George gets the lines wrong but at least feeds me the correct cue. We fight. He trips over a chair and knocks a table over. These things are Heavy – they're designed so that you can't lift them up to hit someone with them – okay, not here, but basically all pub furniture is built to the same spec.

I wait patiently for him to untangle himself, then have to help him up so he can kill me. This really isn't the point. I get the break-fall right, but Second Turkey Snipe falls over the chair whilst trying to pay the doctor. This really isn't the point either. I stand up and try to take the chair away without being noticed, provoking heckles of 'it's behind you', which was at least original. When it all goes quiet at the end, I stage-whisper to King George or look at his shield. He gets the cue. I think the landlord, only to discover that he's lost interest and gone out to the kitchen. Embarrassingly I then have to take the hat round my mates. They cough up and ask for directions for the next pub, where there is really good ale. We get our free drinks – you'll probably start to understand why there's this 'quality gradient'. I ride with three of them in their car, the hapless fourth gets into the back of the Fiesta. I don't think I mentioned the immaculate white shirt and blazer he was wearing?

Spot three. This is the optimum place if you're only going to watch one performance. (a) we've pretty much got the hang of it, (b) this is the one whose owner saw the 1929 performance, and we've only had two drinks. My shoulder doesn't hurt so much now, though. King George is hobbling a bit, though. The owner comes down, looking slightly frailer than last year, and we go for the ritual examination of the newspaper article framed on the wall, at which point as usual she produces a hip-flask of carrot brandy. Be rude not to, and she always does us proud. The place is full. My mates can see the real ale, but are having difficulty getting served. I explain to the owner who rustles up a barman and insists on getting the four of them drinks on the house. They're well chuffed and maybe I'm going to be forgiven. All goes to plan except when I have to turn round to check that there's room to fall over. I'll come back to that later. We sing the carol, the hat is passed around and we get a goodly take, enhanced by a tenner from the pub and a fiver from my mates. We get our free drinks, accompanied by sausage rolls and mince pies. My mates set to with gusto, then leg it before they have to watch another performance.

Spot four. This is the last traditional spot and we're always well received. By now, though, alcohol has somewhat taken its toll and Second Turkey Snipe and the Doctor lose track of where they are in the negotiations. They do the only sensible thing and reset to 'say not so' and 'what can you cure?'. It takes ages – the audience either haven't noticed or are too polite to comment, but frankly I'm getting bored. Eventually, the ad-lib the last bit. I stand up thankfully and stretch. My shoulder is hurting again. We get our free drinks. From here there's just the last spot.


Five. This is another wine-bar. We do it because it's the leader's local. It's packed with diners, so we struggle to fit the play into the aisle without knocking food or drinks over. To be honest, I don't think anyone except the landlord and the leader really want us there. George feeds me the right cues, then 'kills' me with a single stroke, all there's room for in any degree of safety. I judge the distance to the top of the bar, break-fall appropriately, and only then do I remember the solid brass foot-rail six inches in front of the bar. At least I can't feel my shoulder any more. Tentatively I feel the back of my head. Probably just a bruise. I squirm into a slightly more comfortable position and wait to be cured. The doctor applies the potion bottle to my lips: I grab it and down the lot. He stage-whispers 'bl**dy hell, was that for real?' and helps me up. Since I am able to give my wife instructions on how to check for concussion, I conclude that no real damage has been done, and go on to take my last cue. One last carol, the hat goes round and against the odds we get a good take – I suspect part of it was from sympathy and the fact that I was still on my feet. We get a free drink. Mine's a very large neat scotch. It evaporates and the manager gives me another. I was sober again by the time we got to Stonehenge for the solstice moon – pain does that, sometimes.

blessings
ffetcher
__________________
mankind's greatest advances are launched on dreams
(dedication in Tess Gerritsen's "Gravity")
...the dreams that stuff is made of
(a tee-shirt for the top quark team at CERN: now the title of an anthology of papers on quantum physics edited by Stephen Hawking)
ffetcher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-16   #6
ffetcher
 
ffetcher's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: South Coast UK
Posts: 2,788

Reputation: 265
Default Re: Folk and Mummers' Plays

Mumming from the other side.

No, not the dark side, although I did once take part in a Hallowe'en play we never did it again and I've conveniently lost the script). This year, because this side of the pond today is the official bank holiday whereas the actual 26th) was 'boxing day' we got to see all four of Crookham's spots that day.

This is one of the events which count as 'traditional' by the reckoning of my late and much lamented mentor, in that people will turn up in droves even if you don't put posters up. It didn't start well, as anyone who read my yesterday's post in 'what are you doing' will have gathered. In the end we were only fifteen minutes late so we got there in time to see the fighting, but at the expense of me wrenching my shoulder quite badly due to hving to brace myself against the dash as my wife wove in and out of the lorries on the first half of the mtorway stretch. The pub is by the side of the local canal and is now called The Exchequer, this is quite clever because it was originally The Chequers - I played there occasionally back in the early seventies, severely under-age for drinking but it's basically in the mddle of nowhere so nobody cared back then. When the old couple retired it bacame The George and Lobster, basically a restaurant, great food but utterly soul-less. The new people took it on four years ago and I don't think they expected an audience of over a hundred. It was utter chaos that year but now they've got it all sussed - it still does good food, but they'e restored the locals bar area and they do mullled wine outside to relieve the pressure at the bar.

As I said, we missed the opening part so we were at the back of a four-deep crowd. 'Sod This' I said, and went inside to watch from the one window that doesn't get obscured by the players who aren't in a particular scene. Inside knowledge is a wonderful thing. I watched the first fight and when the first sword broke and part of it went into the crowd everyone in the bar went 'oh my God'. No health and safety stuff here but the only person ever to have been injured is Richard, the melodion player, who had his forehead gashed, but was expertly patched up by the local GP - who was in the audience - and gamely carried on. Actually I said 'no health and safety' and in an earlier post on this thread I said that being in the front row is scary when the fighting is going on. It's meant to be scary, it's not meant to be dangerous, so... I know how much rehearsal goes into the scenes, and the hilts of the wooden swords are colour-coded for those that are meant to break. Turkish Knight is a different matter - his is a scimitar about four times the size of the others and made of sturdy plywood. More on the trick behind that in a minute. And the last concession to H&S is that at this spot, where the audience inevitably spills out onto the road, there's a lookout in a hi-vis vest at either end of the pitch.

Anyway, the fight results in two 'dead' people. Next is the 'cure', which was the original centerpiece in the first recorded scripts. One of the dead is actually a woman; this doesn't happen often, because the original group was all male (why they all died in the first world war), the women couldn't face doing it and the revival side prefer to respect that, but...

There's another reason. While the doctor is doing his spiel about everything from casting out demons to stitching decapitated heads back on, the woman very demurely pulled the end of the rope of 'sausages' out from her tunic. I am practically wetting myself at this when the American lady next to me asks 'why is that funny?'. 'You'll see' I replied. Whether they'd worked it out in advance or whether the doctor worked it out on the fly, I don't know and won't ask, but the male dead person got cured first. The doctor made a great show of rummaging inside the man's costume to find the sausages (not real and meant to indicate intestines anyway) and flinging them (about a nine-foot length) into the audience. Then he sedately pulled the sausages from the woman's costume, without touching her anywhere intimate. Knowing her as I do, she probably wouldn't have minded, but folks, it's a family show.

By now, the American woman is laughing as well. Turkish Knight and Father Christmas fight, Father Christmas, who is dressed with Beelzebub horns and referred to in the script as 'my father Abraham' (like I said, it's a family show) dies, and Rukish Knight sits on him to do the last lines. I offered the woman a drink, knowing that in about three minutes the bar will be heaving, and she replied 'yes, but only if I can look at your shoulder before you move on'. We drank, we discussed aspects of the play, and then she said 'right, open your shirt and let me look'. We moved to by the fireplace, the only area where there was some privacy. 'It's dislocated. Normally an A&E job. I'm only in my second year but I've done this bit of the course. I can put it back in, but it's going to hurt'. She wsn't joking, but my wife, who had ujnknown to us been watching from by the bar, brought a very large scotch over. 'I don't know whether it's okay to laugh, but drink that and we'll move on'. I don't normally drink scotch, but it's far to say that by the time we reached the Black Horse (about a mile's walk) most of the pain had subsided.

Our new-found friend - Kate - came with us, we beat the mummers and she and my wife went inside to get served before the rush while I was instructed to bag a pitch. This I did by dropping my flack jacket next to me. Unpopular with strangers but happily accepted by the locals. This time we saw the whole play, from 'In comes I, I enter in...' right through to 'ladies and gentlemen, give what you please.' Kate queried whether 'dreadfullest' is a real word, my wife laughed and said 'In Crookham it is'. Kate was heading off for lunch with someone, but we went inside to exchange emails and suchlike, and for me to tell the story of the year I actualy performed.

This was the last time the calendar meant that we could see all four spots and I was greatly looking forward to it, but the night before I got a panic phone-call to the effect that the doctor had laryngitis and could I cover? 'Run-through at the Horse at eleven you'll need yor costume but we've got all the props'. I hadn't even said yes, but I guess they knew I wouldn't turn them down. The end result was pretty much like the journey up yesterday; my wife cut it fine, I changed in the front seat of the car - no mean feat in a Fiesta - and we did a flying pass down the main road. She screeched to a halt and stopped outside the pub, I jumped out just as the second death occurred, heard my in-cue, took a deep breath and started. Someone handed me the doctor's bag just in time and murmured 'drama queen'. My wife emerged 'I've found a slot in the car-park and I can take him down to the first spot after we get a drink inside him'. It's traditional the the group arrive together, on foot, so we compromised that she'd drop me at the bridge over the little stream, and I'd link up with them while she went to park. Surprisingy after all the chaos, not only did this work but all four spots went well. I think I may have said earlier about how much rehearsal goes into this stuff.

We said good-bye, agreed to keep in touch, and Kate headed off for lunch while we went of to The Crescent, which is actually the village green, fairly close. This is out of doors, no cover at all, medium length grass and of course it had been raining for two days. An audience of about a hundred was waiting on the hard standing. The hapless performers, including the three who will have to lie on the stuff, looked slightly less enthusiastic. By now I have two wines and a large scotch inside me and the pain is almost gone. I enter into the heckling with gusto. It's traditional, but as with some other aspects of this my wife is less enthusiastic than I am. 'In comes I, good King George, a man of courage bold' three of us regulars respond 'Courage Best, more like' (it's a beer). I am left on my own to feed the doctor his straight line just before the cure; he does 'pains within and pains without'. I do 'without what?' enabling him to respond 'without any help from you'. All good clean fun - like I said, a family show. By this time the two dead people are thoroughly soaked so the curegpes fairly swiftly. Turkish Knight is on his third scimitar. Now with the ordinary swords it doesn't matter if a few bits accidentally fly off into the crowd - okay, if one hit someone in the eye end on then it might do some damage, but most of the debris ends up in the 'stage' area. The scimitar is another matter; how to smash it on cue wihout endangering anyone? I inherited this idea from Bristol Rag and passed it on. Put the thing into a bench vice and break it where you want it to break. Now hot-glue the rough edges back together. During the fight, hit it end on and it stays in one piece. At the denouement turn the scimitar on its side and use the smaller sword to strike downwards near the end. breaks quite convincingly and the broken end goes straight down, endangering no one except perhaps Turkish Knight's feet. Hasn't happened yet but just in case he wears steel-cappped work-boots. He gets his 'discharge' to go home and tell his country how merciful the Englsh are. Final fight and a somewhat reticent Father Christmas dies and is sat upon.

Last stop, the Black Horse, another mile. The group doesn't stay together this time - the three soaking wet fighters leg it to get outside of a beer and dry themselves by the fire. We walk up with the remainder. Once they've sorted themselves out, 'In comes I, I enter in...': by this time all the regular audience who've followed the play since the Exchequer know all the new jokes for 2016 and join in. New for this year is a huge soft toy pig. The lines run 'I knew your father years ago' 'Never had one' inevitably 'oh yes you did from the audience 'oh no I didn't' and so on until eventually it gets boring and Father Christmas says 'oh yes you did. I bought pigs off him. and kept them in the straw yard. I fed them on turnip-tops yet they died for want of litter'. They fought half-heartedly while looking for a puddle-free bit of car park for Father Christmas to 'die' in. Eventually, we go inside and I leg it to the bar. Both the publican and my wife could see that I'm still having trouble moving around. This is where the sense of community comes in. My wife said 'sit there and I'll go get the car'. The publican asks 'are you parked back by the canal?' My wife nods. He yells through to the other bar 'Beth, the rush is over, I have somehing else for you. Drive this lady to the canal car-park near The Exchequer, then lead her back in her car and let her block you in in the staff area while she picks the lad here up'. They vanished, no questions asked, saving at least half an hour. He poured me a large wine. 'Tell me about the pigs and that's on the house'. I confessed that no-one knows - even the mummers don't understand it. 'It was in the script at the start. I think it's a bit like Romani singing, where the lyrics change from generation to generation until they make no sense at all.'

'Ah well,' he said 'it's still on the house. At least I've got something to tell the punters when they ask. Is that true about the Roma?' 'Yep'' You kn ow about this stuff?' But that tale will keep for another post on another thread...

blessings
ffetcher
__________________
mankind's greatest advances are launched on dreams
(dedication in Tess Gerritsen's "Gravity")
...the dreams that stuff is made of
(a tee-shirt for the top quark team at CERN: now the title of an anthology of papers on quantum physics edited by Stephen Hawking)
ffetcher is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



Current time: 03:25 PM (GMT -4)


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2008 - 2016, EarthSong Forums. Most rights reserved.