"This is a Mummers’ play I wrote"
Modern compositions and their implications

by Peter Millington

"Mumming Traditions in Cross-Border and Cross-Community Contexts", Derry, 9-13 June 2003

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  1. Introduction and Previous Work
  2. Resources and Types of Play
  3. Mumming Skits
  4. Adapted Mumming Plays
  5. School and Community Plays
  6. Performers' Rewrites
  1. Compiled Plays and Others
  2. Textual Analysis
  3. Traditional Plays
  4. Wexford Plays
  5. Conclusions
  6. References


It seems that the urge to rewrite folk plays is irresistible. Working with a large sample of composed and adapted texts, the apparent personal and cultural motivations of these wannabe folk playwrights are explored. More specifically, this study examines the textual characteristics of the rewritten plays in an attempt to determine what it is that makes the authors think that they have written a mummers' play. These features are then compared with a historical database of "authentic" Quack Doctor plays. It is suggested that similar processes and criteria have existed throughout the history of the plays, and may indeed have been the prime factor in their evolution.

This is a fleshed-out version of the original Microsoft PowerPoint presentation I gave at the conference. Bibliographic references have been added, as have hyperlinks to my web-based sources. Further information, which was given verbally at the conference, has been added where appropriate, especially to explain the graphs. There is also some additional data from the textual analysis that I was unable to present due to time limitations. This paper has been submitted for publication along with the other conference papers in the journal Ulster Studies in Irish and Celtic.

Peter Millington

© Copyright 2003, Peter Millington (petemillington@virginmedia.com), Last updated: 07-Apr-2016