Plays are folk plays performed by troupes of amateur
actors, traditionally all male, known as mummers or guisers (also
by local names such as rhymers, pace-eggers, soulers, tipteerers
particularly to a play in which a number of characters are called on
stage, two of whom engage in a combat, the loser being revived by a
This play is
sometimes found associated with a sword dance though both also
exist in Britain independently.
Mumming spread from the British Isles to a number of former
British colonies. It is sometimes performed in the street but more
usually during visits to houses and pubs. It is generally performed
seasonally or annually, often at Christmas, Easter or on Plough
Monday, more rarely on Hallowe'en or All Souls' Day, and often with
a collection of money, in which the practice may be compared with other
customs such as those of Halloween, Bonfire
Night, wassailing, pace egging and first-footing at
Although the term mummers has been in use since the middle
ages no scripts or details survive from that era and the term may have
been used loosely to describe performers of several different kinds. The
earliest evidence of mummers' plays as they are known today is from the
mid to late 18th century.
should not be confused with the earlier mystery plays.