Where: At venues around the Ashdown Forest area, East Sussex
What is it?
On Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December, the World Famous Ashdown Mummers will be performing their annual Sussex Mummers’ Play.
The play is performed annually in local pubs, just before Christmas. This will be the 44th year that the traditional play has toured the area.
A mummers’ play is a seasonal folk play, performed by a troupe of actors known as ‘mummers’. The Ashdown Mummers first performed their Sussex Mummers’ Play after a copy of a script was discovered in the old East Grinstead Library. Members of the Ashdown Forest Morris Men and their friends, performed the play in various pubs around East Grinstead just before Christmas in 1973. They have performed the play every year since, on the last weekend before Christmas.
A dance was added to the play, and this led to regular performances of unusual dances, including dances in the strictly traditional Border Morris style. The men take pride in their attitude to the dancing, which differs from many groups because of their focus on keeping to the collected versions of the dances. This means no fancy costumes, no unnecessary fancy movements and above all no whooping!
Details of this year’s performances haven’t been confirmed yet, but the pubs are likely to include the Red Lion in Turners Hill, The Royal Oak in Newick, the Laughing Fish in Isfield, The Coopers Arms in Crowborough, The Crown in Groombridge, The Anchor in Hartfield, and the Foresters Arms in Fairwarp.
The performances are open to all, just turn up at the pub in time to buy a drink before the performance begins.