Keynsham Mummers Play Home Page
Where are we?
The small town of Keynsham (spelled K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M!) lies half way between Bristol and Bath along the A4 in the South-West of England. For more information about the town take a look at Keynsham On-line.
When can you see us perform?
The play is performed every December 26th. In the UK the day after Christmas Day is known as "Boxing Day".
A brief history of the present revival
In 1977, with the formation of Keynsham and District Arts Society, an attempt was made to produce the play,
but there was never a full attendance at rehearsals and the idea was abandoned.
Coincidentally, in December 1976, just about the same time as the Keynsham and District Arts Society were trying
to revive the play,
a group of Bristol Morris Men had just performed it at a University of Bristol folk dance! Following a plea for help broadcast on Radio
Bristol the morris men contacted Bunty Dunford enquiring as to whether they could help. Jumping at the chance of it being revived Bunty
suggested that the Bristol Morris Men take on the challenge. With a few changes in the cast they have performed it ever since.
The play, was watched in 1822 by a certain Joseph Hunter. In the words of the English Folk Dance and Song
Society's journal of December 1947: "Amongst Joseph Hunter's manuscripts in the British Museum, is a transcript of a Christmas play
which Mr Hunter saw performed at Keynsham, county. Somerset, on December 27th, 1822, He obtained a copy of the words from one
of the actors, and this may be found in another volume, signed James Cantle, Keynsham. Mr Hunter writes that unlike the actors in the
north of England, "the mummers", these called themselves "Christmas Boys". Some of them wore swords".
Photocopies of the original manuscript are in Keynsham library,
and the text is also available on the Web; but the play needs the boisterous interpretation
and ad-libbing of experienced performers. The ending is open to a lot of interpretation as the play, as collected, has no neat ending and
so each year much discussion goes on as to how it should end.
Old and new pictures of us
These are some of the earliest photos we have. We know they are old as
they are 1) black and white and 2) we all have long hair!!
These photos are more recent
Here are some photos from the '96 performance .
In 2001 we looked like this.
And in December 2003 we looked like this.
Where can I find more information about Mummers Plays?
The English Folk Play Research
Page is an excellent place to start!
Where can I find more information about Bristol Morris Men and Morris dancing?
Paul Woods, who was the original Shepherdess in the revived
Keynsham play, and who has also played Father Christmas, maintained the Bristol Morris Men web site
John Maher of Bristol Morris Men, who was also Overseas Bagman for the Morris Ring (and the longest-serving Shepherdess in the play!), has a Web Page giving many
useful links to other morris sides and information about folk dancing.
Click on the link below to contact us?