The Origins and Development of English Folk Plays
Peter Thomas Millington
Ph.D. Thesis, University of Sheffield, May 2002
New Classification of Quack Doctor Plays
In the main body of the thesis, the following classes are defined in terms on the basis of characteristic dialogue lines. However, as many of these lines belong to certain dramatis personae, these are given instead in this summary classification. The heirarchy of the classification is indicated using indentation.
|Quack Doctor plays -||Doctor|
|Plough Plays -||Dame Jane|
|Multiple Wooing plays -||Noble Anthony, Father's Eldest Son, Farming Man, Lawyer, Ancient Man|
|Recruiting Sergeant plays -||Bold Tom, Recruiting Sergeant, Ribboner, Lady Bright and Gay, Farmer's Man|
|North British plays|
|Sword Dance plays -||No individual combatants - Dancers include the Squire's Son|
|Galoshins plays -||Galation|
|Irish plays -||Saint Patrick, Oliver Cromwell|
|Southern English plays -||Father Christmas, Turkish Knight|
|Cotswold plays -||Jack Finney|
|Robin Hood plays -||Robin Hood, Arthur Abland|
|Northern English plays -||Slasher, [Bull Guy]|
|West Indian Mummies -||Saint George, Saint Andrew, Saint Patrick and Saint David|
|Composed & compiled plays|
|Wexford Mummers -||No Doctor - Father Murphy, Wolfe Tone, etc.|
This new classification is compatible with the previous three-fold scheme established by E.C.Cawte, A.Helm & N.Peacock in their English Ritual Drama (1967), and recently proposed extensions. The principal differences are:
- The new term "Quack Doctor Play" replaces the earlier unsatisfactory term "Mummers'" or "Mumming Play" - Not all Mummers performed plays, and not all players were called Mummers. Conversely, the character of the Doctor is found universally throughout this type of folk play. It therefore provides am objective terms that both defines the genre and distinguishes it from others.
- The over-large Hero-Combat class - the most common type - has been broken down into several sub-classes
- The Sword Dance plays are now merely another sub-type of the the Hero-Combat plays, and not in an equal class of their own as they were before. This revised status has been determined from a combination of textual analysis and a reassessment of Alex Helm's data on sword dances and sword dance plays.