The award-winning Owle Schreame theatre company tell the strange history of Winter festivities in England, whilst presenting an unpredictable selection of rough, wild, raucous and bawdy Christmastide, New Year, and Easter folk plays from the 1700s to the early 20th century; unique, interactive, and genuinely engaging; wyrd festivities and drunken, unmissable theatre with free booze thrown in for good measure.
Just over a hundred years ago every village in England had its own unique variation of a “Mummers play,” handed down from family to family for generations, for centuries, a living piece of folk tradition. With ridiculous costumes and bizarre plots involving turkey snipes, duels, Beelzebub and rising from the dead, today most have been lost and of the few that were written down only a minority are still performed, by local enthusiasts and revived folk groups.
The origins of these strange folk plays are lost in history, and nobody knows how long they’d existed for before first being written down in the 1700s. Academics have variously theorised that they stem from ancient, Pagan ceremony; that they evolved from rural folk-rituals designed to increase fertility and prosperity; that they were a twining of traditional celebratory custom with rough folk theatre, conceived in 1644 when the Puritans made Christmas illegal.
After their 5 star, award winning, sell out production of DROLL at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, the Owle Schreame are bringing the same loud, drunken, chaotic performance style to Mummers plays as they did to the illegal 17th century Droll plays of that production, and tell the strange history of Christmas and the New Year in England. This is theatre from an Oral tradition, Folk theatre, Rough theatre; anti-intellectual, anti-academic, and anti-literature. For the past year, the Owle Schreame have been exploring, researching, and performing them; actively experimenting with their wild, base flexibility in performance. Combining Shakespearean Original Practice with concepts from immersive theatre, we’ve developed a very particular approach which recreates something of the rough, raw, tongue-in-cheek, beer-in-hand performance style that the Mummers plays were designed for.