The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54781   Message #849750
Posted By: The Shambles
18-Dec-02 - 02:50 PM
Thread Name: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
Subject: RE: PEL: Mummers stopped Cerne Abbas
Front page (with photo) of the Dorset Evening Echo 18 December 2002.
Morris men's traditional mumming play banned after mystery complaint
By James

Morris dancers have been kicked out of West Dorset pubs because council officers insist a licence is needed for them to perform inside.

The Wessex Morris Men were forced to stage their traditional Christmas mumming play in the street a Cerne Abbas despite having performed inside pubs for the last 18 years.

The drama came after council officers warned that a public entertainment licence was needed for the group to perform indoors at the Red Lion and new Inn pubs. David Pritchard, Wessex Morris Men Squire, said "it was a shame".

"The mumming play was something we do to entertain people at Christmas with no profit involved and as a bit of fun.

"It was disappointing that it should be prevented for some small reason over rules they might have over licensing".

Morris dancers suspect that the licensing warning was sparked by a complaint to West Dorset District Council by someone who spotted the event being advertised.
He added: "we were upset more than annoyed that someone would have been bothered to inform the licensing authority and that they were bothered to come out to the pub."

The dancers were due to visit the New Inn and the Red Lion before having sandwiches and a few drinks as part of their Christmas gathering. They staged the play outside after a council officer warned that a special licence was needed if more than two people were to provide entertainment inside.

A district council spokesman said: "We advised the landlord of the Red Lion pub that a public entertainment licence may be needed if a play involving two or more performers was going to be held in the pub and the public allowed access.

"We also advised them that a street collection licence would be needed if they planned to collect money for charity in the street outside the pub".

Dick Foad, New Inn landlord, said: Scrooge is alive and well in Cerne Abbas.
"It was a letdown as we had people waiting here and they were disappointed.. I have had morris dancers for 15 years. I was a bit taken aback when the licensing authority came about the public entertainment licence".
Mr Foad added that the licensing officer's hands were tied because he was acting on a complaint.

The morris dancers, which are based at Cerne Abbas, said the mumming play went very well outside and that they were well looked after by the Red Lion when they went inside afterwards.

Mr Pritchard added that the traditional village life and music was under threat from new government proposals to introduce entertainment licenses for performances everywhere – including churches.
The morris mumming play dates back to the 19th century and involves drama and dancing.