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About PBM

Page history last edited by Jeremy 15 years, 4 months ago

About the Paper Bag Mummers



YOU! If you live in (or visit) Greater Boston, love the spoken word, swordplay, close harmonies, seasonal customs, and making a fool of yourself in public, come to a PBM event, grab a bag, and you'll be a Paper Bag Mummer! We welcome both men and women, and invite kids to join with a parent or friend. Sign up and show up for one of our Performances, and we guarantee you'll be left holding the bag.




British folk drama has a rich heritage beyond St. George and the Dragon. The vast majority of ritual folk plays collected are rarely performed, while modern audiences often find traditional texts obscure, if not boring (so that today's mummers write their own topical and political scripts). Yet ritual relies on dynamic repetition. The Paper Bag Mummers explore and present traditional texts in performance (see our PBM FAQ), combining ritual and improvisational drama. We make a virtue of necessity: we never rehearse, we only perform.




Our texts include the early Robin Hood plays, wooing plays and plough texts from the Victorian Guisers and Plough Jacks, ritual animals like the Mari Llwyd, and North American mumming from Newfoundland to the West Coast. Carrying on (in) The Cambridge-Somerville tradition of Wedding Mummers Plays, we fabricate foolery for weddings, fairs, festivals, and events. For the wedding of PBM stalwarts Saint Jeremy and Fair Angela of Rhino Tower in June 2003, we produced a custom adaptation of the wedding scene from Midsummer Night's Dream, with PBM as the rude mechanicals. In 2005, our wedding play was set during the Head of the Charles Regatta, as was the wedding.


When and Where?


In the tradition of house-visiting, we take our plays soul-caking for Halloween, pub caroling at Christmas, pace-egging for Easter and Mayday, and first-footing for Hogmanay on First Night. A neighborhood walking tour allows five to seven performances in an evening, developing camaraderie, trust and often hilarious energy as actors gain confidence in the script and in each other. What begins as dramatic reading becomes group improv street theatre, reviving the ancient freedom of foolery.




When you show up at a PBM event, you receive a paper bag containing your script, kit (costume), and props. You take it from there!


What's Next?


In 2007, PBM will be participating in NEFFA 2007 and the Red Herring Kettle of Fish Ale as a morris team. While of course "we never rehearse, we only perform!" we may plan some extra advance "performances" to polish the tight pacing, physical comedy, and improv timing of the traditional mummers' play into a repertoire of short showpieces (2-5 minutes each) that will bring ritual drama into the ring with ritual dance and song.


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