Doncaster Morris dancers to perform historic Christmas play at city pubs

A troupe of Doncaster Morris dancers will perform a historic Christmas play at pubs across the city this festive season.
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For many years, Doncaster's Green Oak Morris Men have performed a mummers’ play during December - and this year will see them reviving the tradition once moe.

Mummers' plays are one of the oldest surviving features of the traditional English Christmas, going back over a thousand years.

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The plays are an early form of pantomime and are based on the legend of St George and the Dragon.

Doncaster's Green Oak Morris dancers will present a Mummers play in the city.Doncaster's Green Oak Morris dancers will present a Mummers play in the city.
Doncaster's Green Oak Morris dancers will present a Mummers play in the city.

The characters vary from play to play, but the hero is always St George.

He fights the powers of evil, traditionally represented by a dragon and Turkish Knight (boo hiss!).

Peter Heigham from Green Oak said: “Mummers plays humorously represent the struggles between good and evil, and death and resurrection.

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“They involve exciting medieval sword fighting - especially between the Turkish Knight and St George. People reckon George was a soldier of Turkish origin - a Turkish Knight in his own right!

“Usually one character plays dead. Cue a quack doctor who performs a miraculous and comedic cure, neatly symbolising a re-awakening of the earth from the death of winter.”

Under the guise of Doncaster Mummers, Green Oak's fun and heartwarming play also includes Father Christmas, the King of Egypt and other quirky characters - all dressed in spectacular disguises.

This year the play will be performed on:

6 December, 8pm - Jemmy Hirst at the Rose and Crown, Rawcliffe

13 December, 7pm - Cross Keys Inn, Wroot

13 December, 8pm - Angel Inn, Misson

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20 December, 8pm - Doncaster Brewery Tap, Doncaster city centre

Performances are free to attend and there's no need to book. Age restrictions may apply at each venue.

After each performance, Green Oak will perform a Yorkshire longsword dance followed by singing and merriment.

Doncaster Brewery Tap will have a free buffet for the audience and performers.

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To find out more or get in touch, email [email protected] or contact 07710 229915.

What is Morris dancing?

Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins.

Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. They clap their sticks, swords, or handkerchiefs together to match with the dance.

Ritual, religious and seasonal dancing has been around from the earliest of times and has probably been changed beyond recognition.

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The name Morris is thought to derive from Moorish and may have arrived in Europe through the Moors in Spain, the earliest mention in English writings seem to have been in the 15th century.

Over time it became popular in agricultural communities where it may have assumed some religious/ritual and fertility overtones.

It had largely died out by the early 20th century but was somewhat revived and documented by the several enthusiastic musicians and dancers including the best known – Cecil Sharp. There was a further revival and burst of new sides in the early 1970s driven by a heightened interest in English folk music.

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