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Mummers and Racism

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GUEST,Steve (Gloucester) 10 Dec 04 - 08:55 AM
Gedpipes 10 Dec 04 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 10 Dec 04 - 09:03 AM
Ellenpoly 10 Dec 04 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 10 Dec 04 - 09:13 AM
The Shambles 10 Dec 04 - 09:14 AM
Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull 10 Dec 04 - 09:19 AM
DMcG 10 Dec 04 - 09:56 AM
Paco Rabanne 10 Dec 04 - 10:01 AM
Bunnahabhain 10 Dec 04 - 10:07 AM
GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM
Ellenpoly 10 Dec 04 - 10:20 AM
GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 10:29 AM
Paco Rabanne 10 Dec 04 - 10:30 AM
GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 10:36 AM
Strollin' Johnny 10 Dec 04 - 11:25 AM
Once Famous 10 Dec 04 - 11:32 AM
Strollin' Johnny 10 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM
M.Ted 10 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,petr 10 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM
Ellenpoly 10 Dec 04 - 12:34 PM
Once Famous 10 Dec 04 - 12:38 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 12:53 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 10 Dec 04 - 12:55 PM
GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,Steve (Gloucester) 10 Dec 04 - 01:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Dec 04 - 01:45 PM
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GUEST,petr 10 Dec 04 - 04:39 PM
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GUEST,American who does so know what a Mummer is 11 Dec 04 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,American who does so know what a Mummer is 11 Dec 04 - 06:33 AM
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Subject: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Steve (Gloucester)
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 08:55 AM

We have just been told by a venue based in the village where we have annually performed our Mummers' play that this year we would not be able to perform the play as it is rascist.

Just to explain, we black our faces in the old Mumming tradition, and this is obviously where the problems arises.

Has anyone else come across this problem? If so, how did you deal with it?

We have been having a few problems with this venue for the past couple of years when the new manager took over (despite his head office giving us the go ahead) so I suspect that this is just a smokescreen, however this doesn't stop me from being offended by the allegation!

Maybe a little knowledge being a dangerous thing?

Be good to have another opinion!

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Gedpipes
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 08:57 AM

I think the Mummers society should hear about this and quick.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:03 AM

The Britannia Coconut Dancers have had this problem- I'm told a TV producer once asked them to dance in the nude (i.e. unblacked) and was given short shrift. I's probably worth asking them for their experiences.

http://www.coconutters.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:13 AM

This is a hard one. The idea of tradition is brought up again and again as a good reason to keep doing something in a certain way. This can be applied to so many different things, though, and perhaps it can only be examined on an individual basis.

If someone were to "black up" for a minstrel show in the states, there would most likely to be hell to pay, unless it had gone through a lot of discussion and agreement with a host of different groups, both racial and artistic, and most likely nowadays-political.

The same is true for the Passion Plays which can be seen as extremely anti-semitic, which, in their day, was never thought to be a problem.

Then again, how do we differentiate between what has become a "PC World" about relatively minor traditions like the Mummers, and compare it to other "traditions" like religious families who practice so-called "Honour Killings" ALSO based on tradition.

Yes, yes, I've taken an extreme example, but it's to make a point. The Mummers have a tradition which to them seems to be one which hurts no one, and is within a context of "folk art", but who's to be the judge here?

I'm of two minds, which is why I'm writing this. Some traditions have had their day, some are downright reprehensible, and some need to be examined as a cultural and historical item of worth, but in that context.

Good luck.

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:13 AM

At this rate Christmas and all associated references and time honoured rituals will soon be banned as being offensive to at least 3 members of society, none of whom really give a shit about what we do because they're all too busy getting on with their own thing and having a good time in their OWN WAYS. Sorry world, these are the things that we do at this time of year. None of it is racist as the people who originated these things had never heard of racism. They did, however, know about despotism, feudalism, poverty and degradation at the hands of their 'masters'.

Sorry, I do not like racialism, nor do I like apologist do-gooders who insist on trying to guide MY point of view towards their own narrow and biased own.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:14 AM

Is this 'Big Ron's' pub?

All this well-intentioned if OTT political correctness is doing nothing to prevent the deep-rooted racism that is still rampant in the UK. The prevention of monkey noises from football crowds does very little to change this either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:19 AM

Anyone seen front page of todays newspaper [sorry i forgot wich one],
Christmas Banned!
it goes on to say how various forms of xmas celebrations have been banned, by various councils, ie mistletoe has been banned as it is sexist, and wimmin might complain, baloons have been banned as decorations, as they might trigger an allergic reaction, and lead to companies been sued, etc etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: DMcG
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 09:56 AM

Steve:

Would you consider a compromise such as using green makeup, rather than black? That is in keeping with the disguise aspect of the tradition and in my view would be better than dropping the play entirely - once you do that, it could easily disappear altogether. It reminds me a little of that old rhyme:

Here lies the body of old John Gray
Who died defending his right of way
He was right - dead right - as he walked along
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

I agree entirely that claiming this is racist is misunderstanding the tradition, but the fact is the pub owners' (or whoever) are the ones with the power here and if you think the tradition is worth preserving, its up to you to find a way of doing it in the face of such obstacles, however ill-founded.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:01 AM

I wonder if the SAS might have to 'green up' on future night manouevres.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:07 AM

Second that Green makeup idea. Don't think anyone can object to blue/red/green etc
DMcG is dangerously awake!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM

How about half black face & half white, then you'll offend everyone & no-one?!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:20 AM

This got me interested. I looked up some things about the whole history of Mummers, and Harlequins etc..

Which character is blacked up? If it's Beezlebub, then I have found as much evidence that RED could work just as effectively to portray that character. It it's Harlequin then the idea of either a black/white mask or face paint seems to be a common practice.

It does look like there are enough differences in the "tradition" for there to be some room to maneuver...


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:29 AM

I think most people are very tired of this kind of nonsense..But how do you fight these mini facisims ?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:30 AM

Vote Conservative!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 10:36 AM

There are plenty of folks who are from the dominant "white" culture in the US and Europe, who get really pissed off by the fact that their cultures are no longer homogenous, and no longer able to discriminate against minorities with impunity.

So in a pathetic, xenophobic attempt to turn back the clock to a time when they and theirs ruled their world, instead of all those dark skinned "foreigners" taking over with their "political correctness", these sorts of bigoted folks desperately grasp at the sorts of straws the Mummers are grasping at, claiming "our sacred tradition".

Time to move on. If you want historical authenticity, do as others have suggested for the masking--use something other than black face. It is simply too hurtful to blacks to justify it's continued use.

Living traditions aren't static, but ever-evolving. The Mummer tradition is a perfect example of how it could continue as a win-win situation, simply by changing the color of the face make-up.

Which begs the question, what are the true motives of the Mummers who refuse to change from black face to green or red?

Not pure as the driven snow, to be sure.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 11:25 AM

Would a black person 'whiting-up' to perform in a Mummers' Play be considered racist?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Once Famous
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 11:32 AM

What is a mummer?

Aren't they from ancient Egypt?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM

It's a British tradition Martin - totally outside your narrow US-focussed experience and way beyond your limited intellect.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM

I thought this was about the Mummers Day Parade in Philadelphia-where they have, at various times, refused to allow African American, Jewish, and Gay Mummers clubs to march---your problem is minor in comparison--


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 12:27 PM

well, to assume that the blackface in mumming and morris dancing
is racist is in itself an act of pre-judgement. Since the historical
origins of blacking up were really a form of disguise and have nothing to with race. It was a way to be anonymous and avoid persecution.

Of course its not just one character, like the devil or something as Ellenpoly assumes, its all the mummers. Not sure if greening up works,
as there is a green man character. I think the problem can easily be avoided with a brief explanation, which is what has been done in the mumming plays Ive seen. (It actually never occurred to me that
the blackface is a race reference)

I suppose if the trend continues they'll probably have to omit
the Turk whos part of the play in order not to offend Muslims.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 12:34 PM

I didn't assume anything, GUESTpetr, it's what I'd been reading about Mummers since this thread started. It does in the past seem to be associated with certain characters, the devil being one, as is the turk. I haven't seen a Mummers play here, but was only looking for possible alternatives. The tradition is a long one which seems to go back centuries and not only in this country.

If it is now played with all Mummers in black face, I'm interested in knowing when that tradition started. And if it is indeed not a race reference, then why can't it be done as easily with either another colour, or a mask?

I make no judgements here, as I said in my first post, but it's not going away, all this kind of concern and censorship. The only way to oppose it, or to at least debate it, is with as much information as possible, yes?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Once Famous
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 12:38 PM

You know, Strollin' Johnny, you are completely full of fecal matter. I asked a simple question trying to get a little knowledge on this expression and you gave a shitfaced snob ass answer.

Take your stupid cockney limey British tradition and shove it up your ass, after you've chewed it up with your bad teeth.

No wonder we laugh at your backwards culture that tries to imitate us. Only the Japanese are funnier at it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 12:53 PM

Strollin' Johnny, your question reflects a basic ignorance of race issues. Blacks have no racist traditions of mocking whites by painting their faces white, and they have never tyrannized whites in Britain, the US, or anywhere else in Europe. Their homeland numbers in Africa were decimated by European and American colonists.

So your attempt to suggest it would "be the same thing" if blacks dressed up in white face to cruelly mock whites, is idiotic.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 12:55 PM

Here in New England the Green Mountain Mummers perform in green face. I don't know of any teams in the US that use blackface.

I looked for some photos on line but didn't find any. I'll try to post a pic at some point.

Allison


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:01 PM

The US director Spike Lee recently made a very powerful statement about the historic minstrel traditions which used blackface, to comment upon the sad state of "black entertainment" in the US being tragically dumbed down a la 'Amos and Andy'. He took a lot of heat from the US African American community, most of whom were appalled by the comparison between present day black tv sitcoms & the blackface minstrel tradition.

There are some American folk musicians, notably Michelle Shocked, who actually dared to explore this historic racist musical tradition (ie the blackface minstrel tradition) from a white perspective. But because she is much less known than Spike Lee, her album didn't cause near the controversy.

Additionally, I believe the time has come to remove the racist "Turk" stereotypes where they occur as well. Along with the racist Asian stereotypes, etc.

We don't need those traditions anymore, but we most certainly need to leave ALL those racist traditions behind. They simply have no place in the living traditions of contemporary societies, except in museums, history archives, etc.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Steve (Gloucester)
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:11 PM

Thank you to everyone for their input. Please keep the ideas and comments coming.

I know that the blacking may, on the face of it (no pun intended), be construed as rascist, but I have seen a Zulu dance which contained elements of the fight, death and resurrection which feature in our play. At least one character had white paint on his face (death?) I did not regard this as the least part racist (against white people) on his part and enjoyed the spectacle - even more as I could see the elements of his dance in our play thus confirming our common humanity.

The blacking in mummers plays originated as a form of disguise in order to beg and hide the identity of the participant. It may have also been a form of mask in order to permit the player to 'change into' that character. Either way changing the colour of the blacking may lessen any racialist allegations which we may receive, although I don't think we'll dance at the venue again as it isn't the first time we have had permission refused at the last minute.

Also as we are quite close to the Welsh border the blacking continues that morris tradition of blacking up one's face while dancing border morris and thus represents a 'regional' custom which we are keen to contuinue.

Interestingly enough there seems to be less objection to the villain being the Turkish Knight - a part I thought which would have caused more outcry on racial grounds. But hey, he gets brought back to life and is pardoned and dealt with as an equal at the end of the play.

We may have to bow to the inevitable and reconsider the choice of disguise, but that will require the concensus of the whole group.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:45 PM

Rochester Sweeps had some hassles about this at one point - and since the blacking there is to do with being sweeps with sooty faces, changing colours wouldn't have really make sense, since soot only comes in black. As I understand it that's all blown over, since it's pretty clear there's nithing about their tradition which is anything to do with race.

Generally speaking Morris sides these days tend to use all kinds of colours when they do paint their faces, but I'm pretty sure that's to do with wanting to look looking more decorative, rather than worrying about people misunderstanding blacking-up as something to do with Minstrel Shows and all that stuff, rather than merely as disguise.

Since the theme of Mumming Plays, with St George and the Turkish Knight, is largely about reconciliation in the wake of conflict, I can't see them having any problems on that score. Traditional multiculturalism, in fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:47 PM

When mummers are accused of racism it in usuually by somebody talking bollocks.
Let's face it - the racists dress in white robes with pointy hoods if they wish to be in disguise.
The lie is given to the racism accusation by the (admittedly not numerous, but I have known more than on in my travels) members of mumming teams who are of non-white origins but still "black up", because that is the costume of a mummer. I suggest you ask those mummers for an opinion before making sweeping statements.
Every race and cultore somewhere alomng the line has a custom which involves disguising individuals, whether it be masks, carnival costumes and makeup, styles of theatre, or covering the skin with ashes from a dead fire.
For an example of a non-British culture have a look HERE photos top and bottom of page
Quack!!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:47 PM

But why on earth is this in BS?
    I missed this one somehow. I must have been traveling or something. I've moved it to the music section, where it belongs.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 01:49 PM

But here is the thing Steve. Even though we can all come up with isolated references to black people putting white make up on their faces, it doesn't begin to compare with the truly racist, widespread blackface minstrel tradition common in both Britain and the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

That blackface minstrel tradition was inherently racist, and causes black people a tremendous amount of pain. So why would anyone want to do it, knowing those facts?

Do mummers care so little about how their actions effect others? I don't think so, but when I hear these arguments FOR blackface being used by mummers because contemporary mummers claim it to be historically accurate and authentic (which I've never seen proved beyond a reasonable doubt, I might add), and therefore "not racist" I just have to shake my head.

White people don't get to decide what is deeply hurtful to blacks about these really deep seated race matters. They just don't. Only blacks, who have suffered so greatly as a result of racial oppression, have that moral authority. Not the descendants of the white people who oppressed and enslaved them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 02:02 PM

But the Blackface Minstrel tradition, and blacking-up of mummers and Morris sides are not the same thing. There is no way in which the latter involves performers imitating or mocking black people. If it has been understood that way on some occasions, that is a clear misunderstanding.

That doesn't mean it may not be a good thing to be sensitive to that kind of misunderstanding, and varying the colours is one way of demonstrating that it is a misunderstanding.

There is of course a tradition of white-painted performers - seaside Pierrots. But that is rather beside the point.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 02:08 PM

It doesn't matter that they aren't the saem thing, McGrath. What matters is how the blacking up of mummers faces is perceived by Britain's black population.


As I said, mummers SHOULD take into account how British blacks feel when they see the mummers in blackface, and not do it. Period. And they should not do it out of consideration for Britain's black minorities.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 02:59 PM

Various African traditions do 'white-up' to mock their former oppressors and current authority (we can argue whether it's racist or it just happens that the objects of their derision are white until the cows come home). One such is John Canoe which can also be found in the West Indies. The Horniman museum has various photos, masks and dummies used in these traditions. I found it reassuring that people in such far off places with such different cultures should have something in common with our village mummers and Punch & Judy shows.

Incidentally, Strollin' Johnny, the US and Canada *do* have various mumming traditions although the Philadeplhia one sounds more like Carnival to me. But that's totally outside your narrow UK-focussed etc. etc.

Sigh.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 03:03 PM

I doubt very much if any black person here has has got too confused about that, GUEST 10 Dec 04 - 02:08 PM (use a name, PLEASE - it gets confusing. Were you the same GUEST as earlier in the thread, who seemed to have a different slant on such things?) And I've often enough seen families with black members taking the same kind of amused interest in Morris Dancers that other people do.

There are serious aspects of racism around, and tackling them head-on is important. But guising traditions which have nothing do do with skin colour, and nothing to do with the American style Minstrel Shows, are a distraction from that - and attacks on such things even make life easier for real racism to dig-in and hold-on.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 04:39 PM

there is a difference, guest.

If you are offended by mummers blackface,(the origin of which certainly is not to poke fun or imitate other races) then you should
equally be offended by Mary Poppins - since Dick Van Dyke has a carbon on his face. (whether hes a chimney sweep being irrelevant).

A friends teenage daughter walked into a clothing store and looking at the underwear aisle - said 'hey look at the knickers!' and two African american people turned and stared at her. An unfortunate coincidence perhaps, but no racism intended (only perceived).

and racism cuts both ways, I experienced it in Japan, when I was refused service in a bar (sorry Japanese people only!, Imagine saying that over here in BC.

and historically, whover said it was only white people enslaving Africans, and not vice versa, is not correct. GO back a 1000 years or more and European slaves were sold in North Africa etc. In fact the word slave - originates from Slav as a lot of slaves were sold into North Africa from Eastern Europe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 04:57 PM

But why on earth is this in BS?

Well it at least insures that it won't be moved from where the originator placed it - perhaps every thread should have a BS prefix?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:23 PM

It doesn't actually, Shambles - there have been cases where threads have been moved to the music section, having started in BS.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: DougR
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:33 PM

I question whether switching to green would work. The Green Party probably would raise hell if you did that. Maybe the spokesperson for the Green Party in the U. S. could help out here. Bobert?

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:34 PM

not that it matters, but
ellenpoly, by stating the question 'which character is blacked up' you did in fact assume something. Ie. that it is only one character.
They all are - except the horse.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM

That would include Father Christmas, I imagine.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 07:57 PM

Let's face it, whatever we do we are likely to offend someone. If the local catholic church puts on a carol concert outside is it being offensive to moslems? Is halloween offensive to christians? Are parading giants offensive to us gnomes? It's about time people just got on with their own lives and stopped interfering with others.

I 'black up' as Hector in the easter pace egg. Until some pillock mentioned it may be racist I never gave it a second thought. That is as far as it got - a second thought - before it was dismissed as nonsense. I have performed the play for years. I have spoken to black people, indian people, chinese people and people from all over the world. They have never given a single indication that they found it anything other than either fun or completely barking mad!

If I am offended at anything I see I simply stop watching. Easy. I have never forced anyone to watch the Pace Egg. If we give in to this PC drivel where will it end? Will Manchesters gay mardi-gras have to stop because it is offensive to the conservative hetrosexual? Will we stop the Notting Hill carnival on the grounds that it represents the black people of the area as rowdy drunkards? Will I have to shave off beard because it is offensive to orthodox jews that a non jew is mimicing them?

It is not taking the piss out of anyone apart from the players themselves. If I want to wear odd clothes, make up and act the fool for charity who has the right to tell me what colour the make up should be?

Get real.

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 08:46 PM

Someone said that black people never "White Up", they are wrong,
Coco the Clown was [I'm almost certain] of black origin, he whited up to play the part of a clown, was he being racist?
of course not, its just a costume.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Peace
Date: 10 Dec 04 - 08:57 PM

There was an important comment made above--well, many, but one I wish to expand--to do with tradition. The subject was addressed by Jackson in a short story entitled "The Lottery". Traditions do need to be reviewed from time to time. The excellent suggestion to make the faces green might be just the thing you're looking for. I don't think Jolson would be a hit today. Maybe the voice, but not the makeup. Just as the word pickaninny has gone bye bye, so too maybe should blackface. Incidentally, the SAS use greens also in their face 'painting'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: LadyJean
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:50 AM

I convinced some friends to put on a mummers' play at an SCA event many years ago. We had a line in our script, "He never should kiss a black girl when he could kiss a white, and when he met a bonny lass to sleep with her all night."
We changed black and white to dull and bright. Because that WOULD offend people. As my mummers were mostly women, I bought a bunch of cheap fake moustaches, and had them wear them. I didn't know they blacked their faces. Now there is a play, the name escapes me, that is meant to be done by blacks in white face. It's about a town where all the blacks have disappeared.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 02:58 AM

Simple disguise is generally the norm in ceremonial customs of this sort. In Europe, it is most convenient to use soot to blacken the face; in Africa, ash is used to whiten it. There is no racist motive inherent in either action. In the same way, jackets were traditionally worn inside-out; the point is to reverse the normal appearance along with a concomitant reversal of normal behaviours. More complex forms of disguise are also used (the "Burry Man" has close analogues in Eastern Europe and in Africa, for example) but simple face-changing is a base-line and universal behaviour.

Looked at out of its historical context, it is certainly true that a racist sub-text might be imagined by an observer ignorant of the way such things work, and who does not understand that Western Europe, just as much as other parts of the world, possesses a range of quite innocent traditional practices capable of extensive mis-interpretation if approached judgementally and without empathy or the will to understand.

It is an issue that needs to be addressed carefully in order to avoid misunderstanding and injured feelings, but I'd think that the way forward would be to point to the close parallels in other cultures by way of analogy and explanation rather than simply to panic in the face of the knee-jerk attacks that seem to come mostly, not from the Black British (who are not idiots) but from "right-on" middle-class Whites: who, all too often, are idiots; and bigots, come to that, though it's an odd and perverse bigotry that isn't susceptible to reason.

See also -for example- various discussions here in which people have agonised about such foolishness as whether Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor (which features a "brown girl") is "racist". They have been, as here, through ignorance, imposing a modern, anachronistic and irrelevant sensibility upon a completely unrelated situation.

With McGrath, I initially though that this discussion might be more appropriate "above the line", given that thread headings like "tech" and "folklore" are continually abused here to give undeserved prominence to irrelevant rubbish; having read some of the later contributions to it, though, I think that perhaps it should stay here after all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:34 AM

Probably matters very little what we think - as there seems little real possibilty of this thread being moved.........


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 05:39 AM

GUESTpetr, yes it was not clear to me that all Mummers in this production would be using black face, and as I said from the beginning I knew little to nothing about the subject when this thread started.

I know a lot more now, thanks to all who contributed! Threads like these, whether they're above or below the line, really do contribute to the general knowledge, and this one especially has been pretty "clean" as far as sticking to the subject goes.

Good luck with whatever happens, Gloucester Steve.

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,American who does so know what a Mummer is
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 06:16 AM

another Guest stated:

>>>Strollin' Johnny, your question reflects a basic ignorance of race issues. Blacks have no racist traditions of mocking whites by painting their faces white, and they have never tyrannized whites in Britain, the US, or anywhere else in Europe. Their homeland numbers in Africa were decimated by European and American colonists.

So your attempt to suggest it would "be the same thing" if blacks dressed up in white face to cruelly mock whites, is idiotic.<<<

I take it you've never seen the White-faced Mummer Parade which happens yearly in South Africa? The origins of which are a tad hazy but it takes place in that area that used to service British ships stopping in at port in an otherwise inhospitable region. The locals are quite a separate ethnic group from other south African nations as I understand it.

Since they play Banjos and sing American Southern Songs...it must be quite confusing to outsiders. I'm confused just reporting it but if I hadn't seen footage of it with my own eyes, and I have, I'd not believe it either. If I recall properly, it may have something to do with St. Stephens day which is also some kind of Mummer Holiday in New Orleans.

I'll have to get back to you all on this, but I do have Video of it and it is a HUGE festive occasion. My footage was taken by a friend in the late 1990's. When I find out the rationale for this parade, I'll post details

Of course, that doesn't remove the basic taint of racism from any white person in blackface, but...

it is worth mentioning.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,American who does so know what a Mummer is
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 06:33 AM

Aha..the video is labelled:

Cape Nguni Minstrels

Hope that helps


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: David Edwards
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 08:45 AM

May I remind everyone that people of African and West Indian origin have BROWN skin, not black. If mummers or morris men were 'browning up' I would have reservations, but they black their faces (they would traditionally have used soot or charcoal) to hide their identity, which stems back to the days when people who took part in such activities had to hide who they were incase their employers etc took it as an excuse to give them the sack.

They are not attempting to emulate anything like the obviously offensive black and white minstrels, and this over use of political correctness is getting very tedious and is becoming trotted out more and more by people looking for racism/sexism/any other type of ism where there is none.

If something is overtly racist I'll be the first to complain, but mummers and morris sides blacking up isn't racist. Perhaps the person who is responsible for banning the mummers play should get involved in the kick racism out of football campaign and do something useful.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 09:16 AM

Of course it might be that it was just an excuse cooked up by someone who didn't like the Mummers for other reasons...


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 09:37 AM

So how many of you have read the excellent "Demons of Disorder: Early Blackface Minstrels and Their World" by musicologist Dale Cockrell?

I'd like to add that none of the examples cited by defenders of blackface to justify it's continued use despite the profoundly hurtful effect it has on the American and British black citizens who see it, are examples of traditions with such racially charged aspects to it, like the blackface minstrel tradition does.

When I think of examples of blacks beind deeply offended by the use of blackface by whites in performances, I think of an article I once read by a white woman about the black American author, Alice Walker. She (the author of the article) was attending a women's conference in California with Alice Walker, where they were both scheduled to appear as speakers.

The first day of the conference, during the dinner, a group of women performers came into the dining area dressed as "demons" and went through the crowd, dancing and performing acrobatics. Several of them used blackface make-up strikingly similar to the blackface used in minstelry. Alice Walker, after about 6 hours of highly charged conversation with the performers and conference organizers over why it mattered so much to Alice, why it was so hurtful to her, and how the use of it at the conference and the performers' and organizers' steadfast refusal to believe that there were good, legitimate reasons in our day and age NOT to use blackface in performance.

Alice Walker left the conference, and denounced the conference organizers and performance troupe for their failure to comprehend the complexities of race relations, and their refusal to accept responsibility for alienating the black communities they always claim they want to work with on the greater issues of the day.

Want to keep segregration in the arts going? Want to alienate black people and keep them from trusting whites?

Keep insisting stubbornly on your "right" to keep using blackface in your performances.

You can come up with all the justifications you want. But just don't expect any sympathy, and don't come whining around the folk community when you aren't accepted and your tradition being rejected as racist and backward, when you perform in blackface in public.

'Cause homey don't play that tune.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:09 AM

Folk dress-up as many things and for many reasons. It just may be possible using this reasoning to make a case that 'vicars and tarts' parties - damage the church or encourage prostitution.

Now stopping these themed parties is not going to have bloody effect on religous bigotry or the real problems of prostitution. Nor will attemps to ban mummers etc, have any real effect of the all too real problems of racism - which is not confined to people with black skin anyway.

The case has been made here by very informed posters that there is a big historical difference in the reasons why mummers 'blacken-up' and the reasons why minstrels do (or used to). I am quite sure that most black people can appreciate this difference and can see that attempts to combat racism are actually set back by this simplistic and OTT political correctness, based on ignorance.....

Notting Hill and other carnivals would be very strange affairs indeed if the black and other participants were inhibited from dressing-up and pretending to be anything from aliens to bumble bees.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:15 AM

And let me also add that the negativity surrounding the use of blackface by mummers in the US is not historically the same as it's use in Britain, not because the slaves were in the US, but because Jim Crow is a political phenomenon unique to the US, and includes the complexities of class among whites who performed blackface minstrel shows, it's largely white working class audiences, and the contexts of the changing world of race and class roles in the 19th century.

The burlesque characters of the minstrel traditions also lampooned the affectations and hypocrisy of the growing middle class. By 1843 in the US, when the Virginia Minstrels appeared on the scene, the blackface minstrel tradition was already far from it's folk theatrical roots of mumming, and was rapidly developing into a new form of musical entertainment known as the minstrel shows, the debauched versions of "clean" middle music concert entertainment of the middle and upper classes, whose audiences were becoming more middle class than working class--a phenomenon which still plagues the "folk" traditions of Anglos and Anglo Americans down to this very day. By the 1850s in the US, the blackface minstrel show was cleaned up, and it's burlesque and working class aspects largely gone, and it was solid, middle class entertainment. The only aspects of it that weren't cleaned up in the process of the tradition and it's audience changing, were the dark and disturbing racist elements in it. And that is poisonous legacy we all are left with in the US especially, when it comes to looking at this largely white, middle class, extremely racist "entertainment" tradition.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:22 AM

Shambles, I can only speak to my knowledge and experience of the US, but the majority of black Americans may or may not know about the "historical differences" being cited here between mumming blackface and minstrel blackface. The point I'm making is so many of them find such "historical" justifications of the continued use of blackface, to be a justification of the continued use of stereotypes that are extremely painful to black Americans.

An excellent recent gauge of how black Americans feel today about this subject, was the extremely negative reaction from the black American community to Spike Lee's film "Bamboozled".

To say that Spike (a black American director from Brooklyn) hit a nerve in his community is quite the understatement.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:42 AM

Shambles, I can only speak to my knowledge and experience of the US, but the majority of black Americans may or may not know about the "historical differences" being cited here between mumming blackface and minstrel blackface. The point I'm making is so many of them find such "historical" justifications of the continued use of blackface, to be a justification of the continued use of stereotypes that are extremely painful to black Americans.

Although this view is a valid one (if held by an individual - rather that groups claiming that many people hold this view and to claim to speak for them) - there are equally valid other views. If those expressing this view are not speaking from full knowledge - perhaps they should not make demands of other cultures - from a position of ignorance. Perhaps then - this dressing-up may be able to be seen in its proper context and then be less painful?

Alice Walker is welcome to her view - but she may be wrong. The people appeared to listen and respect her view but they did not have to agree with it. She may also be wrong in thinking that others may feel the same or that she (or her writer friend) any right to speak for anyone but themselves.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 11:26 AM

I would like to join your conversation by first saying that I regret that I never had the pleasure of seeing actual or even videotape of Morris dancers.

As very much an outsider to this tradition, but one who THINKS I might like the dancing sans the blackface, I agree with GUEST [Dec 10, 2004 at 2:08 PM] that "What matters is how the blacking up of mummers faces is perceived by Britain's black population....mummers SHOULD take into account how British blacks feel when they see the mummers in blackface, and not do it. Period. And they should not do it out of consideration for Britain's black minorities."

That being said, I want to re-post an excerpt of a comment that I made in an earlier thread which referred to the custom of "blackening up":

"Last year in one of my scavenger hunts at a used book store, I was pleased to find a 1935 book "The Traditional Dance" {Violet Alford & Rodney Gallop: London; Methuen & Co.} "The Traditional Dance" includes a number of passages on the origin of the term "Morris".
I will quote rather extensively from one of these passages:

"When we were speculating on the origin of the Morris dance in the last chapter we saw that Cecil Sharp, having accepted the theory of Moorish origin [i.e. from the Moors], came later to reject it. His principal reason for doing so was that by 1912 he had come to realize that all over Europe the dance does not stand by itself, but is associated with 'certain strange customs which are apparently quite independent of the dance itself.'. From this he concluded that 'the Morris dance is a development of a pan-European or even more widely extended custom', and that 'faces were not blackened because the dancers represented Moors, but rather the dancers represented Moors because their faces were blackened'.

It never occured to Sharp to connect the Mooris dance with the numerous cermonial combats between 'Christains' and 'Moors', all more or less choreographic in form, which are found throughout southern Europe, from Dalmatia in the east to Portugal in the west. Perhaps he had no opportunity of hearing of them, but a connection with the Morris is evident from their appelation of Morisca,,Morisma, Moreska, Mouriscada or some similar name.

The Moreska, performed every year in September in the Dalmatian island of Korcula {Curzola}, consists of a play and Sword dance prepresenting a combat between two groups of dancers, a White King {Christain] contending with a Black King {Moorish} for the hand of a beautiful slave called Bula. Needless to say, as in all such mock battles, the Christians emerge victorious.

In Spain, the battle of Moors and Christians goes back at least to the twelfth century, one such having been performed in 1137 at the betrothal of Count Ramon Berebguer of Barcelona and Queen Petronila of Aragon. Aragon, as has already been stated, is still to-day [1935] a land of Morisca dances, and a few more striking performances could be found than the Morisma of Ainsa. This takes place in the middle of September every year...."

end of quote.

Given this historical overview, I disagree with the premise that blackening up started as a means of disguise. I also do not feel that simply telling the history of the custom of blacking up would make the experience less offensive to people of African descent and other darker skinned people in the viewing audience.

I agree with the poster who said that some folk traditions should be allowed to evolve. It seems to me that this is one of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:12 PM

Hi Azizi, nice to see your presence below the BS line!

I haven't studied Morris dancing extensively, but my understanding of it is akin to the description you give above, ie that it is rooted in traditions that grew out of Christian European mythology of the Christian vs Muslim Crusades.

It should be considered just as offensive to Arab Muslims as it is to black Britons and black Americans.

Another excellent reason to kill off Morris dancing altogether, IMO. :)

But that is just MY opinion folks (ducking and heading for the asbestos suit).


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 12:20 PM

Oops! Above should read "offensive to Arab and African Muslims".

Now then, shall we link these blackface & mumming threads to the Black Irish thread, so we can spread more mythinformation about the Mudcat?

BTW, whomever said that the British didn't have a plantation system in Britain was wrong. The English created a plantation system in Ireland, by sending in the English lords and Scottish lairds and lowland Scots to replace the Irish chieftains.   The British plantation system just didn't use African slaves, but Irish peasants instead. Those lowland Scots planters are today's Ulster Protestants. Many of those planters emigrated to the southern US in the emigrations prior to the Irish famine, and those Scots planters the US' came to be known as the Scotch Irish, and as the 'cracker' culture of the Southern US.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 01:10 PM

Is it odd that people who have never seen a black face dance or play let alone be involved in one are commenting on whether it is racist or not? Is it just as odd that someone in the US is very much against a UK tradition? Even stranger someone seems to be suggesting that black people are too stupid to tell if something is racist or not and need it pointing out to them? Now that I DO find really racist. Perhaps it's just me...

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 02:11 PM

As an African American I believe that I have the experience to comment on the pyschological impact of watching black faced dancers.

The bulk of my post was on one author's decription of the history of that custom.

Does anyone care to comment on that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 02:38 PM

It isn't just a UK tradition, it crossed the water with the English and became an Anglo American tradition too.

What isn't acceptable though, is white Englishmen doing the blackfaced dancing defining what is racist and what isn't when it comes to blackfaced dancing for the entire world.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Bunnahabhain
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 03:06 PM

Guest,
Please stop hiding behind your anonimaty to spread your apparently uneducated opinions. If you wish to have your views respected, let us know how you are and how you have come by your prodigious knowledge and understanding of this subject. If, however you just wish to stir up trouble, find one of the threads about george 'idiot' bush.
Yours, respectfully,
bunnahabhain


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 03:51 PM

Yes, Azizi, one author's decription of the history of that custom is exactly what it was. it does not make it true or not. The true history of the Morris will never be really known. It is, incidentaly, a very snall part of the tradition that blacks up for dance. Primarily border morris. I know of no cotswold or north west tradition (apart from Britannia - who are somewhat of an enigma) who use make up. I think some rapper sword and molly teams do but I'm not sure. I think we are talking here primarily of the mumming and pace-egg plays.

I really would suggest that you experience the tradition as performed in the UK before deciding if it is offensive to people of African descent and other darker skinned people in the viewing audience. From every observation I have had from every ethnic origin possible not one had been negative. Come and find us. See what it is like. Better still get someone to pay for a visit of The Abram Pace Egg Players there:-)

Do it with an open mind and if you still feel it is offensive after you have experienced it then I, for one, will use gray, blue or pink and yellow next year;-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:09 PM

Guest - I don't usually respond to anonymous 'guests' but I'll make an exception, just this once. It was not a suggestion of anything - it was a question pure and simple, a request for information. You don't know me or anything about me, but if you did you'd know that your suggestion that I'm a racist would be grossly insulting if it weren't so ridiculous. Fortunately Azizi has answered eloquently and constructively, and thanks for that Azizi.

Martin, thanks for your charming response - you were a bit slow off the mark but, as usual, you didn't let anyone down. LMAO.

And to anyone else who may have felt offended by my assertion that Mumming's strictly British, of course I'm aware that it exists in other countries - my comments were a tetchy response to Martin's inference that anything non-American is worthless. That's all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:39 PM

I would just add that Violet Alford's theories, referred to above, were already out of date when she published them and are not taken very seriously by more recent researchers. It is unsafe to draw conclusions from them, particularly in relation to potentially sensitive issues, and I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the "disguise" aspect, particularly as that wasn't a guess made by folklorists, but the result of asking performers why they did it.

It is also the case that the American experience is very different from the British, and you do need to be careful when drawing analogies between them: many, while they may look fine on paper, will turn out to be misleading (or entirely specious) in practice. A little learning is a dangerous thing. For example, there seems to be an assumption made by a number of contributors to this discussion that Mumming (the British, not American, form) and Morris are the same thing; they are not, though the customs have often overlapped; and that all mummers black their faces. That too is not the case. Some do, some don't, depending on their particular tradition.

No one, I think, is suggesting that traditions should not be "allowed to evolve". It is another matter, however, when traditions are bowdlerised or otherwise mutilated at the behest of outsiders who do not understand them or their context, and may indeed never actually have seen them or met the people of whose lives they are a part. Understanding must always be the first step in matters of this kind, and the onus of justification, and proof, must be on the person who seeks to suppress or to impose change. We have more than one anonymous "guest" here, perhaps; at any rate, innuendo and false analogy do not make convincing arguments, even when repeated.

A very useful resource to consult when looking at aspects of the mummers' play and other traditional drama is Folk Play Research: Traditional Drama Research Group. You will find a lot of material there, and suggestions for further reading which will give a more accurate and balanced impression than is likely to be got from writers like Alford. On the separate (but related) subject of Morris, see also the bibliographies at The English Folk Dance and Song Society.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:46 PM

A complicating factor in issues like the ones in this thread is that racism in the UK and USA seem to have different elements and underlying histories. I often get the feeling, when racism is discussed here, that the USers and the Brits are talking about apples and oranges. Both fruit, but not the same fruit. I find that frustrating, and I wonder how many good learning exchanges have been hampered by the rush to be consistent with one's values-- how many lost opportunities there have been to say, "Hm! Didn't know that! Tell me more!"

I don't think our Mudcat threads can do much to address this, nor any oppression, because the medium is not the same as knowing someone face to face and having a frank talk within a corporal relationship. It's usually my hope that in the threads, we might make a little personal progress one by one, in our learning, to give us a better foundation in our peronsal relationships and action in the world. But too often the threads mere reactivity, when the issue really demands a heavy amount of reflection.

I have to say though I am really cherishing Azizi's presence in Mudcatland (and on the planet) and her ability to articulate things not only from the personal view but with a sense of cultural scholarship. I'm sure like all of us she never feels her research on a topic is "done," but Azizi, I always appreciate that you bring a knowledgeable foundation to your ideas, and a desire for a positive result in sharing them. What you have been posting above the BS-line has been valuable to many of us.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:51 PM

The arrogance of the British never ceases to astound me.

"It is another matter, however, when traditions are bowdlerised or otherwise mutilated at the behest of outsiders who do not understand them or their context, and may indeed never actually have seen them or met the people of whose lives they are a part."

Which cuts both ways, Malcolm. Times have changed, and those in
Brtian and the US who now so stubbornly resist discontinuing the use of blackface, be it mumming or morris, are being reactionary and racist, regardless of the historic contexts of either. We live in THIS era, in THESE societies. We cannot selectively choose to embrace one traditional aspect of blackface make-up by whites, while simulatneously choosing to ignore another sinister and odious traditional aspect of blackface make-up by whites in both Britain and Ireland, just because we want to keep doing it. Especially considering that the morris dancers can't prove one way or the other that their tradition of using blackface wasn't influenced by the use of the blackface minstrel show tradition common in both Britain and the US in the 19th and early 20th century.

Don't like being labelled a racist? Simple. Stop using and defending the use of blackface in public performance by morris dancers and mummers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 04:58 PM

Azizi

You finish you post with this.

I agree with the poster who said that some folk traditions should be allowed to evolve. It seems to me that this is one of them

But you say that you are in agreement with - What matters is how the blacking up of mummers faces is perceived by Britain's black population....mummers SHOULD take into account how British blacks feel when they see the mummers in blackface, and not do it. Period. And they should not do it out of consideration for Britain's black minorities."

This does not sound like evolution to me. It appears that what you mean by it being allowed to evolve - is that is should be allowed to die out. I certainly feel that both sides should be taking in to account the feelings of all concerned and making a point of being as educated and informed as possible about each other's positions. There seems little point in insisting on one side taking offence - when it is perfectly clear that no offence is intended.

Anyone with any knowledge of mumming plays would be fully aware that it is a tradition that is constantly evolving.

But let us get this straight - it is one side of this argument insisting that the other stops doing something they clearly don't really understand. When mummers are not trying to impose anything on anyone but simply just trying to explain the history of their tradition and what it is and what it is not.

We have gotten rid of our children's cuddly 'Gollywogs' and those on our jam jars and all sorts of other equally silly measures - to avoid giving offence and hopefully no offence is being now made by such things - but the serious aspects of racism remain pretty much as serious and unchanged by all this.

There is now a feeling that enough of this PC silliness is enough. Notice should be taken of this, if the moves towards better understanding of how all victims of racism feel (whatever their colour or race) and measures to address this - are not to be undone.

It is also clear that there is a difference in the way these things are seen on each side of the Atlantic Ocean - and perhaps we can all learn from these differences. It would also be nice to hear the views of some black people from this side of the pond (if we have not already done so).


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 05:31 PM

Perhaps rhetorically, I ask who determines when enough [eradication of cultural institutions that may not have been meant to be racist but have that effect]are enough? It seems that we are in a time when people can say that such efforts should be halted because it is simply the PC police having their way, when in actuality it is much more than that.

Malcolm Douglas, you wrote "I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the "disguise" aspect, particularly as that wasn't a guess made by folklorists, but the result of asking performers why they did it."
Are the opinions of contmporary folks a valid way to determine the origins of customs as old as Morris dancing? Couldn't the reasons for the performances have changed or been forgotten over time.

Isn't linguistics one valid way of suggesting the origin of customs? How do contemporary respected authorities account for the Moorish sounding name for this dance genre?

Also, Malcolm, I went to the first website that you recommended and read the Introduction. I do intend to read more about this subject, but I must say that I had a visceral feeling of something that I can't adequately describe with words when I saw the photographs of the black faced actors and read the description. I feel the same thing when I read hsitorical accounts of White Americans who performed as Black faced minstrels.

The whole history of African slavery in the "New world" slavery is so hurtful to me that I go through periods when I can't even study it. But similar to what I heard Jewish people say about the Holocaust, it's important to study the causes of slavery so that we can make sure something as horrendous as this never happens again. It is also important to study the continuing effects of African slavery in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean.

As I said in an earlier posts, the more I read about Morris dancing, I feel that I might very well like the performances without the black face performances. If there are Black people who have watched the black faced versions of Morris dancing and not had a problem with it, perhaps they are emotionally stronger than me-and perhaps not.

---
Thanks to all for my welcome on Mudcat. I appreciate your contributions too!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Bad Cuilionn...no biscuit
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM

Aye, traditions should be allowed to evolve, and I applaud both the "Greenface" suggestion and the idea of seizing the "teachable moment" to help an audience understand that blackface (at least in some traditions) was merely the lowest-budget disguise available to many working-class/peasant mummers.

The central tension of many Mummers' Plays, the "archetypical battle" of a British Hero and a Turkish Knight, is another item ripe for good-natured tweaking and worthy of ongoing research & debate.
Two years ago, our local (Maine, USA) play included "Sir George of Texas" and a Turkish Knight-type character who sang little ditties like "Osama-enchanted evening..." Bad puns flew thick and fast, and every character was made to look equally silly in the eyes of the audience. The "quack doctor" figure--the one who typically raises the fallen fighters back to life at play's end-- treated them like naughty children who had forgotten their better natures, and reminded the audience (in rhymed couplets, of course) that education & understanding are the best medicines for the illness of war-mongering. The play was grand fun and well-received by a politically diverse audience.

It is their ability to bring social mores and inequities into the limelight that makes Mummers' Plays so vital & dynamic. (Hmmm, "limelight..." Maybe that's another good reason to opt for Greenface?) While other folk performance forms such as Morris Dancing may lack the "message" aspect of the plays, there may still be ways to playfully finesse or interpret the use of blackface and other "questionable" aspects & symbols--for example, a jester/joker/makeroom character can interrupt and play "professor" for a minute, with enough humour to hold & keep the audience.

We've used the Mummers' Play format to address all sorts of local political & social issues, all while maintaining a traditional form and (mostly) traditional dialogue, gleaned from scripts in the aforementioned Folk Play Research website. Rather than getting upset & feshing ourselves about clueless onlookers and "troublemakers" who don't understand the tradition, let's continue to have fun with the genre and its creative possibilities!

--Cuilionn


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM

Won't the 'Greenface' be seen as an insult to Irish folk and won't others insist on equally numbers of 'Orangefaces'?

This is how silly things become - if we allow it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: DMcG
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 06:09 PM

Don't forget if we did adopt 'Greenface' (or 'Blueface' ... I bet there's some group that upsets) we can still look forward to many years of complaints about the Christian/Turkish Knights (offensive to religions and also racist, perhaps), the way St George wins the King of Eygpt's daughter (possible sexism), the man-woman character in some plays/dances (gays, trans-sexuals and who knows who else) ...

Yes, happy times are ahead!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 07:35 PM

Boys, you are full of it. Greenface upsetting the Irish? Come on, lay off the stupid, hurtful stereotypes.

When you are beat you are beat, and when you are wrong, you are wrong.

There is no defense for any white person performing in blackface in "historic traditional contexts" like this in today's world. Deal with it. If you love the tradition, you will find a way to renew it in a way that is respectful of all people, not just your own.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 09:24 PM

I agree with Shables.
some people just look for reasons to be offended.
Azizi-How can a white man wearing black make up on his face offend you?
I am white, if you put white make up on your face I would not be offended.
If I took part in a play or show etc, and shaved my head to play the part of a bald character, would this be offensive to bald men?
Is wearing a false beard on stage, offensive to people with beards?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: musicmick
Date: 11 Dec 04 - 10:46 PM

Ah, there is nothing so amusing as social critic defending his own traditions. Of course, blackface is offensive to black people. The "tradition" may or may not be malicious but it is not their tradition. We faced this same situation in Philadelphia where we have held a Mummers Day Parade every New Years Day for centuries (The practice originated with the Romans, by the way). When these traditions began, America and England were not the pluralistic states they have become. The dominant ethnicity (white, protestant) was free to say whatever it wished to about other peoples without fear of offending. So, in the USA, we had Minstral Shows, Wild West Shows and the like. We still call the NFL team in our capitol, the Redskins, and we pretend that we don't mean any offense by it. OH, every once in a while, some sourpuss tribe complains but we don't pay 'em no mind. After all, we have tradition on our side.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 03:17 AM

Well as a Greek, I was proud to be invited to play the role of the Turkish Knight at the Herga Mummers; and will do it again.

But I think we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Word is that Bob Fox and Benny Graham's show about coals (title "How're you off for coals today" or something like that) is also about to be banned, because it shows so many blacked up faces that it can give rise to offence...

And by extension, anyone caught not to have washed too thoroughly may also be prosecuted.

Tanning products will be outlawed too.

What a load of small round objects suspended between the legs of a male.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 03:39 AM

The issue is not one of racism anymore. Political Correctness has allowed the issue to become one of colour, and consequently of no use to anyone. Whatever colour you paint your face (for whatever reasons) risks upsetting someone - (possibly). Unless perhaps you paint your face in Billy Connolly's favourite colour - beige......

Colours are facts, if they have painful associations for some folk, it is regrettable but it is hardly the fault of the colour, is it?

If someone tells me that they are offended or hurt because I don't drive a black car or that I don't paint my house black - am I an insensitive racist if I don't immediately buy a new car and go out and get tins of paint? Or is the fault possibly with them? I strongly suggest that it is the latter. Its not the paint's fault. Does the fact that Henry Ford only made cars in black - make him a racist?

It is time for less demands on each other and time for some common sense and understanding. Hearing someone's objections is a good thing but choosing not to act on these objections is also a choice. Calling people names because they do not do as you wish them to do - is hardly helpful to better value and understanding of each others culture and traditions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:52 AM

I'm begining to see a distinct pattern of US vs UK feelings here. Is it possible that the play does not translate well across the Atlantic? I keep saying I have performed the play countless times in front of racialy diverse audiences and never had a bad reation. I was onced asked by a group of young black lads why we black up. When I told them that the origins were lost in time but it was possiby related to the ancient tradition or possible to anonimoty one said to the others 'See. Told you it wasn't because they all wanted to be black!' We all fell about laughing. That is how light hearted it is.

Musicmic (The practice originated with the Romans, by the way). Says who? The greeks pre date that. I am sure that other peoples made to perform plays before that. How can you say wih such surety that the romans started it when all the scholars who have studied this for years have never agreed on a single origin?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 06:34 AM

Sorry - got called away mid post to have my non PC breakfast of bacon, egg and black pudding. Just checking my last post. reation=reaction. made to perform = made up to perform, and is there such a word as surety? Certainty would certainly be better:-)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Guest who says When you are beat you are beat, and when you are wrong, you are wrong. There are no winners, losers, rights or wrongs in this argument. One thing is certain though. Both the argument and the mumming play will be going on long after you have been forgotten. Unless of course you do something memorable, like stop hiding behind the black face of the anonymous trouble maker;-) No chance!

Perhaps taking the US vs UK attitudes thing further we are onto something? We all know the US attitude at the top. We are right, everyone else is wrong. Perhaps Guest is really, oh no!, Guest W Bush!!! Arrrrrggghhhh. Stop mumming now lads. We are about to be invaded. We have been given the opportunity to give up our weapons of mass racism...

C'mon US catters. Help stop your government interfering in everyne elses business:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 11:02 AM

i>There seems little point in insisting on one side taking offence - when it is perfectly clear that no offence is intended.

Equally there is litle point in insisting that one side should not take offence - when is is clear that offence is being taken.

But I have yet to see much firm evidence of actual offence being taken by these traditions in the UK, especially when and when explanation is given.

Perhaps those who are said to be possibly offended are too busy in the UK, trying get a decent place to live, trying a decent job or promotion on their merits or to get their children a decent education or prevent them from being picked on by the police?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: musicmick
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 04:53 PM

Dave, the practice may have been started by the Philistines, for all I know. Here, in Philadelphia, we were told it was the Romans. If it is important to you, I'll get a friendly folklorist to look it up. The point is, at best, peripheral. The real question is trad v. bad. It is not easy for any of us to employ empathy when one of our time honored rituals is criticised. WE know that we are not racists and we don't understand why we have to give up our traditions to appease persons or groups who take offence at them. And it doesn't make any difference which side of the ocean one lives. Gingoistic generalities
do not elevate these discussions. I have lived in Ireland and the USA and I have worked in England and Scotland and I can assure you that. when it comes to self serving statements we are all brothers under the thin skin.

                      Mike


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:35 PM

No black people i know would give a fuck about mummers having black faces.
They think all this PC banning christmas stuff, is over the top, and is detrimental to race relations. Only white idiots could dream up such nonsense.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Joybell
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM

Well you don't need me, but just to add another voice. One from a country of usually easy-going live-and-let-live folks. I can't seem to get past the fact that this whole discussion, and it's a good one, began with:
A bunch of BRITISH fellas - carrying on an old, possibly ancient BRITISH tradition - in BRITIAN.
I'll grant you that Britian has not always kept their ideas to themselves in the past, but it seems to me that here we have them minding their own business. There was no suggestion that British Mummers were about to impose their ideas,uninvited, on American audiences.
The tradition of Folk-theatre is understood extremely well by the people of the UK, it seems to me. I can't buy the idea that some Americans feel that, without even understanding this tradition, they have the right to tell them to change or stop it.
I only speak for myself, you understand, as an observer from Australia, but I'm fairly well aquainted with English folklore, theatre, folk-plays and traditions. I am also fairly well aquainted with American folklore and 19th century American theatre and songs. I am married to an American who understands the American perspective on a personal level.
So that's my two bob's worth. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Once Famous
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM

Stop painting your face black. Your mummer tradition is stupid.

Paint your ass instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM

Not important at all to me, Mike. It was you who stated the 'fact' in question in the first place:-) Before talking about Jingoistic generalities and self serving statements check out you are not making them!

I fully agree that we are all brothers under the skin though. It seems to me however that some skins are a lot thinner than others. Tollerance is a two way thing and a bit of give and take from both parties in a dispute will go a long way to settling cultural differences. 'Stop doing that because it offends me' will serve neither cultural tollerance or racial integration. It is a step on the slope to the witch hunt mentality of everyone believing what the 'authorites' says to the exclusion of all other points of view.

I fully agree that a VERY small minority may take offence at many things. Does that mean that the majority should stop doing it? If I came to the US and took offense at you driving on the 'wrong' side of the road would you stop? I think not. On the subject of US vs UK attitudes I think you should read the 'Black Britons and Folk Music' thread. It has been a bit of an eye-opener for me. I never realised that race was so much more of an issue in the US than it is here.

BTW I have also lived and worked all over the UK and Europe. I worked in the West Indies for a short spell where not only did I see a white face pace-egg play but also had the dubious pleasure of being called a 'White Nigger', whatever one of those is. I have never worked in the US but have lived with relatives in Illinois and St Louis for short times.

Listen to both sides of every argument and accept that while my rights should never take precident over anothers neither should they be deemed second class for politically expedient reasons.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:52 PM

BG:-) Missed Mr G's suggestion while I was typing. Perfect solution I reckon!

Thanks once again for a bit of humorous sanity, Martin.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Once Famous
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 05:55 PM

OK, Dave.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Joybell
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 06:58 PM

A parrable:
A dear friend of mine once proved to me that my wearing of a blue dressing gown could drive him to killing himself.
(He was feeling defensive about a habit of his, but that's beside the point).
The agument ended with him saying miserably, "And it just might be that my mother was wearing a blue dressing gown the last time I saw her and now she's dead!"
Me, "Was she wearing a blue dressing gown last time you saw her?" DF, "No, but she MIGHT have been!"

His mother had recently died, and he hadn't got to say goodbye. She'd died in his home country a long way away.
My friend's pain, anger and grief were real and understandable but the logic button was stuck in the off position. False connections and stuck logic buttons can be a terrible combination, I reckon. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: musicmick
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 02:08 AM

It seems evident that no amount of argument will blunt your disregard for the feelings of outsiders who could not be expected to understand or appreciate the subtlties of your folk rituals. You can always find a perfectly valid reason to negate any objections. Here are a few more generalized examples that will, I hope, be less accusatory in nature and, thus, more condusive to discussion.
Rituals and rememberances are, often, retellings of epic or historical events and these events are, typically, military and heroic. Our histories are marked by conflicts, wars, conquests and defenses. Our enemies in these contests are demonized and their destruction is celebrated. These celebrations remain long after the specific events are forgotten, long after the animosities that that they commemorate are forgotten. So, "Rockaby Baby" has lost its political relevance even to those who are aware that it ever had any.
I have no idea where your blackface tradition was born or what it originally meant. Nor do I suggest that it is currently employed as a tool of racial disrespect. I can, however, offer a paralel that involves neither British custom nor Black/White relations.
This year, Mel Gibson released a filmed passion play depicting the death of Jesus. There was a hue and cry from the Jewish community protesting its release. Mr. Gibson and a sizable segment of the Christian world countered these protests with arguments not unlike yours. In a cacophony of accusation and reaction, including the possably irrelevant preachings of Mr. Gibson's father, the real reason for the protests were lost in the shouting. Here's the skinny.
Passion plays have been a staple in Europe for centuries. In fact, one town (I can't spell or pronounce its name)makes a decent percentage of their tourist income from their regular presentations.
I have no idea whether or not those townsfolk are anti-semitic. I do know that, in many countries, passion plays have been followed by pogroms perpetrated by inflamed, inspired peasants. Jews, who have been the victims of these atrocities, are more than a little aprehensive about their presentation. Let's face it, European Jews have an understandable edginess about some Christian traditions.
Can you doubt that Africans have similar wariness about White traditions?

          Mike


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 03:40 AM

Many traditions have been simply trampled (along with their people) throughout history. This is not pleasant - but it is a fact.

There seems little point in continuing this tradition.

It is time to try to understand and to celebrate our diffences. Music does this - perhaps it is time to concentrate a bit more on the uniting aspects of music making ans a little less on the more problematic aspects of tradition?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 03:54 AM

A Bumbling Englishman


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: DMcG
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 03:55 AM

Passion plays have been a staple in Europe for centuries. In fact, one town (I can't spell or pronounce its name)makes a decent percentage of their tourist income from their regular presentations.
I have no idea whether or not those townsfolk are anti-semitic. I do know that, in many countries, passion plays have been followed by pogroms perpetrated by inflamed, inspired peasants. Jews, who have been the victims of these atrocities, are more than a little aprehensive about their presentation. Let's face it, European Jews have an understandable edginess about some Christian traditions.


An edginess that is certainly well founded in history, agreed. So the question is what is to be done? Should Oberammergau abandon its tradition (together with a major part of its income, as you point out)? Perhaps it should change the story? Either seems more likely to inflame the more extremist Christians than continuing. Or should we do what Malcolm suggested way back when: It is an issue that needs to be addressed carefully in order to avoid misunderstanding and injured feelings ... Understanding must always be the first step in matters of this kind.

It,s worth reflecting on the photo Malcolm linked to and Azizi found disturbing. The first thing to say is that there are two different traditions at work here. In one, all characters in the play are disguised, and that seems to be the case in the post that started that thread. As I said before, as far as I am concerned greening/blueing the face or wearing masks would be an easy way of resolving this issue in keeping with both the sensibilities of observers and with the tradition.

This photo represents the other situation where only certain characters as blacked. In particular the two characters concerned are the Turkish Knight and a sweep.

For my money, both are insensitively made-up for modern tastes in this specific photo, but I see no reason why the sweep in particular should not continue to black-up.

WhenI was a child, you could see these figures at least weekly near where I lived. I have no doubt that in certain places, in both the UK and the US, you can still see them today:

White coal miners with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White men delivering coal with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White kitchen "skivvies" with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White steam engine firemen with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
Elsewhere, you could also see white oilworkers with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.

So, you see see while I am perfectly happy to agree that a white person blacking up can be (and frequently has been) a racist act, I don't agree that it necessarily is. I wonder, in particular which of our guests have been offended by the racism implied by the sweep characters in the 'Mary Poppins' film?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 04:38 AM

Thanks, Mike. Good argument and very well put. However if, as you say I have no idea where your blackface tradition was born or what it originally meant. Nor do I suggest that it is currently employed as a tool of racial disrespect. Why then are you suggesting it should be stopped? Or have I got that wrong?

The other thing is that the Mumming or Pace Egg or Soul Caking or any other derivation play is neither historic, epic or military. The point is that no-one really knows what it is about. There are parallels drawn with, for instance, St George and his conversion to christianity but those stories are all lost in the mists of legend anyway! It is, and always has been, a growing tradition. For instance I use a 'Lord of the Rings' plastic sword with sound effects in my battle scene. We have had reference to everything from politcal figures to the spice girls! No two plays are ever the same and I suspect that has always been the case. If we change it now surely people in the past have done the same?

The analogy with both Omerammergau and 'The Passion' while having certain validity are not realy applicable in terms of scale. The Mumming play is a tiny localised and, generaly, unwatched bit of nonsense that may or may not go back a few hundred years. The Passion Plays and Mel Gibsons film are based on a religion that is followed by 2 billion people and goes back 2 millenia!

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 02:14 PM

White coal miners with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White men delivering coal with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White kitchen "skivvies" with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
White steam engine firemen with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.
Elsewhere, you could also see white oilworkers with blackened faces ... and its nothing to do with race.


How about white jockeys with blackened faces (after riding on a muddy course) ....that has everything to do with race?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 03:12 PM

How about the British tradition (kept up until very recently) of paying a chimney-sweep to attend your wedding, because the presence of a black-faced person was deemed fortunate? What about the fact that many of my neighbours, who are mostly Asian taxi-drivers, eran heavy tips on New Year's Eve by being invited to 'First-foot' at their passengers' homes after midnight. The first-foot tradition revolves around the idea that the first person to set foot in your house after the New Year turns should be a) a stranger, and b)as dark as possible. These seem to imply that there's a longstanding connection in British folk belief between black people and good fortune. Still, if some PC prat wants to abolish it, of course he must be allowed to, in the sacred name of liberality, so often used as a mask for idiocy, bullshit or even concealed hosrility.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 07:51 PM

There are probably many examples but the difference between the way those in the US and the UK view tradition - is demonstrated with words like 'minstrel'....


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,petr.
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 07:59 PM

as I mentioned before, by their own logic, guest above should be offended by the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Cluin
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:08 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Cluin
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:09 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Cluin
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:09 AM

;^P


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Steve (Gloucester)
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 04:34 AM

Thanks to all for their comments the debate has been helpful and informative.

We have decided to retain the blacking for this year's performance of our village's Mummers' play. We'll have the debate after this winter's performances as to how to proceed in the future.

"...cures the itch, the stitch, the palsy and the gout..."

Wassail

Steve.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: The Shambles
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 07:35 AM

Steve please forget about the 'greenface' idea and just get a black person to play the part. That will keep everybody happy - or would it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 09:21 AM

Suitable quote, Steve!

'...pains within and pains without. If a man has nineteen devils in him I'll cast twenty of them out'

Perhaps we should try it on the Mudcat:-) Glad to hear you are sticking with it.

Cheers

Dave the Hectoring Gnome


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,ELFCALL
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:17 AM

PAINS WITHOUT WHAT ?

Elfcall


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: wysiwyg
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:18 AM

Pains inside and outside, it means.

~S~


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:21 AM

Was it the goons?

There's someone without!

Without what?

Without the door

Well, they are not having ours...

:D


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: GUEST,Elfcall
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:35 AM

Sorry DtG and Wyswyg. I was expecting a mummers reply !

Each year on Boxing Day (or St Stephens Day as my other half will have it) I go to see Coventry Mummers at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire. My brother plays the doctor and cures all .... etc. When he comes to his 'curing pains within or pains without' - somebody from the audience (and it has been known to be me !) will interject with 'pains without what?' to which the rejoinder is 'without your bloody help thank you very much'. Not very funny but very nearly traditional !

Stoneleigh is a beautiful village but without a pub !! - fortunately for the mummers there is a social club   - like they need more drink by 1.00pm !!!

Elfcall


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: s&r
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 10:51 AM

I missed the point about the Asian Taxi drivers first-footing - is it a good or a bad thing? Seems to earn money. I always took the dark first footer to have dark hair? Am I wrong?

Stu


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Grab
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:05 PM

The Coconutters site is dead. Try this page instead.

Don't know about mummers - in that case there's someone "blacking up" to be a Turk which is dodgy. But for Molly/Morris sides, I can't see the issue. Since the facepaint is clearly just a part of a larger costume intended to make the person look bizarre (see pictures above, or this one of face-painted Molly dancers) then I can't really see the problem.

A quick request - Azizi, as a voice of sanity in here, how do these pictures look to you?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Rascism
From: Cluin
Date: 14 Dec 04 - 03:15 PM

I think they ALL need to be locked up.   ;)


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,Steve (Gloucester)
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 09:09 AM

Well we performed the play to rapturous applause on Wednesday, we will perform the play for a final time on the Wednesday before Christmas.

Just realised that I may have been sexist at the same time by dressing as a woman...or I may not have been allowing there to be equal opportunities by not reserving the place for a woman.

Thanks to all for their comments.

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 09:30 AM

Room, room brave boys and give us room to sport. Or should that be brave persons... ;-)

Well done, Steve.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: LadyJean
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 12:53 AM

I've been doing a lot of Christmas shopping in Pittsburgh's Strip
District. One of the vendors has been painting half his face black and the other half goldenrod yellow.
As these are the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are enjoying a winning season this year, nobody has said anything. But he does look strange.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 01:09 PM

Grab, while I believe I am sane, I'm no more a voice of sanity on Mudcat than any other poster, and some would say I am less...

I took a break from this thread, but have read the comments with interest.

And I looked at the photos that you suggested and I still have an aversion to the whole blackening up custom.

To add mud to this water, the coconut site reminded me of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, a krewe {organization} of African Americans who as early as 1901 unofficially and later officially marched in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The Zulu krewe throws out {or maybe threw out}painted coconuts instead of beads as the White krewes did. Pertinent to this conversation, the Zulus had the custom of blackening their faces. See this quote:

"It's been written that the early Zulus were a parody on the staid white celebration of Mardi Gras. Whether true or not, the Zulus did march to their own drum beat. They originally had members dress as females to serve as queen, and later, female impersonators "reigned" as queens, to finally having women as queens. Their queens were, and still are, toasted in front of Geddes, Moss and Willis Funeral Home. There was no macabre intent meant by this tradition. The Geddes and Moss Funeral Home played an integral part in Zulu's beginning and continued to do so throughout the years.

Zulus were not without their controversies either. In the 1960s during the height of black awareness, it was unpopular to be a Zulu. Dressing in a grass skirt and putting on a black face were seen as demeaning. Large numbers of black organizations protested against Zulu and membership dwindled to approximately 16 men. James Russel, a longtime member, served as president in this period and is credited with holding the group together and slowly bringing Zulu back to the forefront."

end of quote

Sorry, I don't know how to hyperlink:
http://www.neworleansonline.com/neworleans/mardigras/zulu.html

Almost certainly the Zulu name is lifted from the South African AmaZulu ethnic group and probably was a compliment {think Chaka Zulu whose military genius is often promoted and not his [shall we say]far less endearing traits & actions...

It appears from the photographs on the Zulu website address given above and on other website on this krewe that in addition to dropping the custom of female impersonators, the Mardi Gras Zulus have dropped their custom of blackening up.

See other websites on the Zulus. Perhaps PoppaGator or someone else from New Orleans can verify whether the Zulus still blacken up and share more information on their traditions.

For my part, I have a strong preference for the Mardi Gras Wild Indian groups {their music and their intricate feathered outfits}instead of the Zulu group, and I wonder if the rise of the African American Mardi Gras Indian groups was another factor in lessening the number of Black men who chose not to join the Zulu krewe..

As ab aside, the Wild Indians remind me somewhat of the Philadelphia Mummers. I'm from Atlantic City, New Jersey which is very near Philly and which still gets the Philadelphia TV stations. Part of my childhold traditions was watching the Mummers' parade on TV every Thanksgiving morning. I don't remember the Philadelphia Mummers blackening up. I was aware that they were White, and remember hearing that they didn't allow any Black people to be in their groups.
I suppose this has changed. I can't say that I liked the Mummers banjo music...It was their outfits that I loved. I suppose in a number of ways the Mummers have had to change with the times in order to survive, just like the Zulu krewe appears to have done.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,Scoville
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM

{Side note} Black performers in traveling shows in the late 19th/early 20th century did powder themselves white to mock white people.

I have tintypes of my great-great-grandfather (a Philadelphian) in his mummer's costume and he doesn't appear to have any face-paint on (he's definitely not painted black). The costume itself is very elaborate and I can't imagine that face-paint would have added that much to the overall effect. It certainly doesn't seem worth it to risk ruffling a lot of feathers. If you want disguise, give them some false moustaches and get on with it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 05:58 PM

I can't say that I liked the Mummers banjo music.

I think we are SERIOUS cross purposes here! What has banjo music got to do with mummers? Apart from the calling on and off songs that some traditions perform what had mumming to do with any music? Looks like we may be talking about very different things here Azizi!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Azizi
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 11:43 PM

Dave the gnome, you asked what banjo music has to do with mummers... Well, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania {USA}it has a lot to do with it. I gather from your post that your mummer traditions are different from the Philly ones. So I guess this is another example of USA'ers being different from UK'ers even if we basically speak the same language...

See this excerpt from a website about "STRUT", an award winning movie about the Philadelphia mummers that is now apparently sold as a DVD:

"It lasts all day, a masquerade with banjos, feathers and sneakers spray-painted gold. Sometimes raunchy, other times glamorous. Think burlesque on the street, marchers strutting with a parasol in one hand, a beer in the other.

The day belongs to electricians, longshoremen, plumbers and cops. And the streets rumble under the heels and toes of grandfathers and grandsons busting loose together.
Everyone has worked so hard and waited all year for this. One day that is theirs. This is Philadelphia. Tradition. Competition. Celebration. Welcome to the Mummers Parade!
http://www.strutthemovie.com/#
end of quote

Then there is this passage from the Mummers Museum in Philly:

"Mummer" comes from the Old French momer, to wear a mask; pantomime. It means a masked or costumed merrymaker, especially at a festival (American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd Edition).
Mummery is an old tradition in Philadelphia, and the famous Mummers Parade dates back to pre-Colonial times, resulting from a blend of Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German, African-American, and other European heritages. With the Mummers in full swing, New Years is celebrated in Philadelphia as it is nowhere else in the world.
Those who participate in the festivities are sometimes referred to as Shooters and Mummers. A bit of history: In the late 1700's, when the Swedes came to Philadelphia, they brought their custom of visiting friends on the Second Day of Christmas, December 26. Later the period of celebration was extended to include New Years Day. The grandest of celebrations became grander and grander with each new year. Celebrating the New Year was a noisy affair. With most people in those days carrying firearms for protection, many shot in the New Year. Hence the term Shooters.

Today's parades include juried competitions. While firearms are no longer discharged, the revelry is as intense as the rivalry between the various mummer groups, assuring spectators and participants alike a wonderful time.

The Mummers Museum celebrates all that is mummery and New Years Day. Visitors will enjoy unique exhibits featuring the intricate handwork that goes into the elaborate costumes. Everyone can learn to do the renowned "Mummers Strut" to the tune of "O' Dem Golden Slippers," the unofficial Mummers theme song composed by Philadelphian James Bland in 1879.

http://www.fieldtrip.com/pa/53363050.htm

end of quote. Although the passage says that the Mummers are traditionally associated with New Years Day in Philadelphia, I believe the parade is on Thanksgiving dayvsomehow I I am 99% sure that at some point {maybe because of commercial considerations} the Mummers Parade is on Thanksgiving Day.

As a matter of information, James Bland, the composer of "O, dem Golden Slippers was African American, an irony since African Americans were really not at all welcome as Mummers until some date
I'm unsure of, but I don't think it's been 30 years yet.

Here is another excerpt:

"Welcome to the home of the Philadelphia Mummers. If this is your first exposure to mummery, you may be wondering who and what we are. We are entertainers that have strutted every New Year's Day in Philadelphia for over 102 years. We are famous for our elaborate, sequined and feathered costumes. As well as our upbeat music, choreographed dance routines, and of course the mummers strut."
http://www.phillymummers.com/
end of quote.

As to competition: there is a comic division, a string division {mostly banjos}, a fancy division. For a description of the string division, see this quote:

"A central theme dominates music, costumes and presentations of the groups of 48 or more musicians. Plumed and bespangled, they mark time to music, highlighted by the banjo and glockenspiel. Ornately garbed captains join the band in precision drills."
http://www.phillymummers.com/
end of quote

One correction, apparently the Philadelphia Mummers parade is on New Years Day instead on Thanksgiving Day as I had written. I apologize for the mis-statement.

My comparison with this tradition and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Wild Indians was because in both traditions members of competitive groups wear intricate, colorful feather outfits..though these outfits are distinguishable between the two traditions.

Oh, and there does not seem to any mention in these websites of the Philadelphia Mummers "blackening up" . And GUEST,Scoville says that this was not a part of the tradition for his great-great-grandfather..So again we may be talking apples and oranges or at least oranges and tangerines when we are discussing the Philadelphia Mummers and the UK/Europe Mummers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 03:34 AM

Ahhh - the dawn breaks! I understand a bit more now. Yes. UK mumming is indeed very different. Our play (At Easter this time but the Christmas one is similar) Comprises of a group of people playing...

The 'Fool' (In our case Old Bold Ben); St George; Slasher; The Doctor; The Black Prince of Paradine; The King of Egypt; Hector; Beelzebub; Little Devil Doubt.

They can be more or less or different depending on tbe tradition. Our play is...

Called on by Old Bold Ben. St George Brags. Fights with and kills slasher. Doctor resurects Slasher. St George fights and kills the Black Price. King of Egypt calls on Hector. St George fights and wounds Hector. Beelzebub frightens the audience. Little Devil Doubt asks for money. The cast collect money.

Other traditions have variations but basicaly it is the same plot and characters. It is performed typicaly in pubs. It is watched or ignored by whoever is there. We have played to anything between 4 people and, on an odd deviation from the norm, a crowded theatre! It is often watched by very few people and performed by even less! Where there are crowds it is because they know what it is about and have gone out of their way to catch it.

Hope this explains the UKers version and why there seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether the black face it is important or not. I can well understand why it upsets some if, as in Philidelphia, it is a major event seen by hundreds of people whether they want to watch it or not and with dozens of people participating. That is simply not the case here.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 08:40 AM

Thanks for that explanation Dave the gnome. I see even more clearly now that the Philadelphia Mummers and the UK Mummers are differnt cultural performances.

After reading your description of your Mummers play, I have some   questions that I want to ask with no offense meant: I'm assuming that St. George is not blackened up right? Also I'm assuming that the Black Prince and [maybe] the King of Egypt do wear black face. Given those assumptions, besides for the great importance of tradition,
why is it that the Black Prince is the one who is always killed?
And you said that the King of Egypt calls on Hector. St George fights and wounds Hector. Does the king of Egypt get killed off or does a Black character ever win or be considered a good guy?

It seems to me that this could have psycho-social implications particularly here in the US with so many media, educational and other institutions biased against people of African descent and other people of color. For instance, I was an adult before I learned that there were {and are} African kings.

Maybe your systems aren't as biased against people of color as those in the United States...I don't know. The fact that only a few people see these plays instead of millions via the wonders of TV doesn't mitigate my belief that there may be unintended ramifications for those viewing the plays... As an example, is it possible that these plays unwittingly reinforce the belief that "White is always right"?

---
Also, please excuse my inadvertant inclusion of the sentence fragments in my last post that assert my belief that the Mummers parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was held on Thanksgiving Day.
It turns out that I was mixing up memories of two differnt parades. Philadelphia hosts a televised parade on Thanksgiving Day and there is also a Mummers Parade that is also televised on New Years Day.
By googling I learned that the Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia, PA is the USA's oldest Thanksgiving day parade. It was started by Gimbel's {department stores}in 1920...

Also, since I mentioned my dislike of banjo music, as a means of showing respect to my ancestors, may I also take this opportunity to post that the banjo is an instrument that comes from Africa.
If interested, you can visit a UK website http://home.freeuk.com/gazkhan/banjo.htm for a sound clip and information on this. One excerpt from that is:

"The best mention of its importation into America is that by Thomas Jefferson, in his 'Notes on America' 1781. "The instrument.....is the banjar, which they brought hither from Africa." In its early period it was know by many names including the aforementioned banjar as well as bangie, bangoe, banjil, banshaw, and banza."
end of quote

If I understand you correctly, there are no banjos in UK Mummer plays... Interesting how customs changed when they crossed the ocean, met up with, and intermingled with other traditions...


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 09:45 AM

Hi Azizi. Everyone is blacked up, including St George! There are no ramifications of white vs black at all. It is something which not only potentialy stems from the mumming masks you mention but also seperates the players from the audience when you are, literaly, rubbing shoulders with the crowd! (Such as it may be...)

The play, apart from the ubiquitous asides and ad libs is pretty much played to the same formula as described above. In our version although it may seem that St George is the 'hero' he comes across very much more as a 'bragart'. The biggest 'sympathy votes' often go to Slasher or Hector and the biggest cheers usualy go to the doctor when he resurrects Slasher. I must say the black prince of Paradine (wherever that is!) usualy gets booed but he does play it for that effect and is an even bigger braggart that George.

There are no musical instruments at all but we do sing 2 songs - One at the begining when we enter and one at the end when we collect money. Bear in mind that our version is the Easter rather than the Christmas version but the plays are basicaly the same.

If you want the songs I will gladly post you the words but you may be better trying to get them, including music, on the web. The opener starts -

"Us actors are the best of men that e'er trod English ground
We never are faint hearted, our voices are full sound."

The closing one goes -

"We're two or three jolly boys all in one mind
We have come a-pace egging and we hope you prove kind."

Good luck and all the best.

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 10:32 AM

Thanks for that information, Dave.

I still think taht if Mummer plays were to be a part of the multicultural mix of the USA, they would have to change. But, that being said, I leave this thread with more understanding about your traditions.

I would also like to offer this observation:

Yesterday I attended a Christmas program at an area African American Baptist church. Two different mime groups performed in that program. One children/youth mime group wore black ropes and white gloves, and had their faces painted white. Another women's mime group were portraying angels and wore long white ropes, wings, and half faced silver masks. The women also had their white paint around their mouths and on their lips.

I believe that the mime tradition is for the performer to paint his{her} face white to better emphasize his {her} facial expressions. Perhaps, as you said in your last post, this custom may also be so that the performer can create a distinction between himself and the audience.

However, I personally didn't like the painted white faces {or mouths}of the groups, though I could better accept the use of masks for the angels. Since both performance groups emphazised dancing or moving to recordings of African American gospel music, there wasn't any need {in my opinion} for white face paint to give emphasis to facial movements. Actually, I thought the face paint took away from the performances and gave a {what I would consider to be negative} misntrel "flavor" to the performances.

I know that I am a product of my cultural environment. I grew up in the 1950s and experienced the USA Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements, and my perceptions have been shaped by these events.
Certainly other people, including people of African descent and other people of color who grew up before, during, and since that time may have different perspectives on mime and Mummers than I have articulated.

I would like to thank you and {at least most of} the other posters for your {their} courtesy and patience with me as I sought information and stated my views.

Best wishes to you {all} too!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 10:40 AM

Um, I meant that the children's group wore black ROBES, not "ropes".

My proof reading often leaves something to be desired....

Okay, this is really my last post here!

Thanks again!


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 10:46 AM

Also, since I mentioned my dislike of banjo music, as a means of showing respect to my ancestors, may I also take this opportunity to post that the banjo is an instrument that comes from Africa.

I really think this is an example of where it is probably a case of reasonably expecting one side to be less sensitive - rather than one of expecting the other to be more sensitive to their feelings.

As a banjo player - I could take your comments to be disrespectful to banjo players (if they actually had any respect given to them) - but this is getting really silly. Disliking a musical instrument out of respect for one's ancestors - especially when it is originally an instrument of your ancestors - is not really many any effort to be positive and taking all this too far.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 11:35 AM

Shambles, I think you misunderstood Azizi's post. And missed her saying she didn't expect to post in this thread again.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 12:55 PM

"It lasts all day, a masquerade with banjos, feathers and sneakers spray-painted gold. Sometimes raunchy, other times glamorous."

Sounds rather like Notting Hill Carnival to me.

All these traditions do feed into one another, and have all kinds of links. But things that look similar can have a very different meaning in different cultures.

....................

Wysiswyg said something interesting earlier "...racism in the UK and USA seem to have different elements and underlying histories. I often get the feeling, when racism is discussed here, that the USers and the Brits are talking about apples and oranges. Both fruit, but not the same fruit."

That's true - one difference, I think, may be that in Britain racism has tended to be more a kind of xenophobia, much of the time, together with various imperial overtones, whereas in America the experience of slavery and post-slavery repression is the key historical context.

So the significant thing about the Turkish Knight isn't that he's black (which he often isn't anyway, after all very few Turks are black), but that he is foreign.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Scoville
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 01:02 PM

To be fair--I do not know for certain that it was not part of his tradition, but if it was, it was not an important enough part of the costume for him to include it when he had his portrait taken. He's wearing everything else--robes, outrageous headdress, etc.--but no face paint. So, he might have painted his face at some point but if it had been essential, I would think he would have done so in the tintype.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 05:49 PM

Not sure that misunderstood. I carefully read all of these posts on this thread and others.

We appear to be products of the same time span and have supported many of the same causes during this period. I am not black nor am I female or gay. Because of this - the motives of everything I and others like me, may say can be questioned by those who are, or those who assume to speak for folk who are. I suggest however, that the main questioning of people like me and our motives - is done by ourselves.

After many years of such external and internal questioning, much development and adjustment - I can now say with as much certainty as I can - that I am not racist, sexist or homophobic - either overtly or otherwise. I do not have a problem coming to terms with the race, gender or sexual preferences of others - no matter how determined some folk are to convince me otherwise.

However and sadly, I am coming to think that many black people, females and gays (or more often those that assume to speak for them) possible do have a problem in coming to terms with these issues. That they sometimes seem determined to ensure that everyone else will also be racist, sexist, homophobic etc and approach almost every issue from their particular standpoint first and expect everyone else to also do this. And assume that everyone is already approaching every issue from a similar entrenched position - when many are actually making every possible effort not to.

Whilst always appreciating that minorities still do suffer badly at the hands of a majority (even when this is not intentional) and there may be positive actions that can be taken by all sides to minimise this - it is not possible to change one's race, gender etc - even if it were thought a good idea to do so.   

If it is thought a good thing to be proud of one's race, gender etc then it must be good for all of us to be allowed to do this. Where the active promotion of this pride looks to conflict with another's - there is little point in one side thinking that their demands may have more justification - just because it may be the minority view or indeed if it is the majority one.

Demanding acceptance, without obtaining knowledge and making any real attempt at understanding another's views - is unlikely to result in this.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,Karla
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 05:04 PM

We always went mummering from door to door as kids to get treats. ADults, did it as well, their treats being more liguid. We always disquised ourselves by wearing old underwear or clothes that was too big, etc and put "stuffing" inside to make us look big and funny shapes. We wore pillow cases over our head with holes cut for eyes and mouth.   This tradition has died out over the years, however, a few people still go to friends and family.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 02:03 AM

I should point out that Dave's description of a mummer's play is only one of many that might be made. Other plays have different characters. In some the Turkish knight or Bold Slasher etc kills St George, in others he kills the Valiant Soldier, in some he is killed by St George and revived, in others merely defeated. The presentation also varies from group to group with some blacking all the character's faces, some only according to the part and others using masks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 03:44 AM

The point is that it is drama - art imitating life. This thread is about a play in Birmingham that was prevented by mob rule.

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=76702&messages=21


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,rat
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:23 AM

I'm the only Mummer in the village


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:35 AM

Yes, I saw that as well, Shambles. Very sad. Very sad indeed. :-(


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,rat
Date: 21 Dec 04 - 04:49 AM

Just on the news now, a 50,000 strong mob is on a witch hunt for the theatre's chief director.

"THEY SIKH HIM HERE, THEY SIKH HIM THERE"


All in favour of freedom must first destroy religion


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: s&r
Date: 22 Dec 04 - 04:44 AM

Just to reinforce the point about different cultures - pillow cases over the head with eyes cut out might look much more sinister in the US than the UK


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST,rs
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 10:06 PM

black Americans may or may not know about the "historical differences" being cited here between mumming blackface and minstrel blackface. The point I'm making is so many of them find such "historical" justifications of the continued

I find it wonderful that this thread died.. I would like to say however that the unidentified guest(s) who continued to use the spike lee references is wonderfully indicative of the dumbing down of EVERYTHING.. oh yes, because someone doesn't understand something, let's all be sympathetic, give our understading away and play stupid or, at least, pretend to be less literate and 'in tune' than we are.. that way Alice Walker or this 'guest', or whomever, whether they be of Caucasoid or non-caucasoid persuasion can feel wanted and trusting and non-alienated. Speaking only for myself, as I always like to do, I want all asundery to remain alienated from me; keep your kernel of stupidity that 'masks' that horrid pretend sophisticated intelligence (the kind with lots of books never read) far far away.
I certainly hope my little comment doesn't restart this thread, I would hate for any of the folks above to have to start answering to and 'learning' the 'GUEST' and the other tired illiterates again.

robert


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 04:27 AM

I certainly hope my little comment doesn't restart this thread, I would hate for any of the folks above to have to start answering to and 'learning' the 'GUEST' and the other tired illiterates again.

Well, sorry Robert, but simply posting to the thread does refresh it. As to the rest of the post...

I guess I must be one of those tired illiterates because it makes precious little sense to me. In the words of the great and dumbed down Homer J Simpson. "If you don't start making more sense we'll have to put you in a home!"

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Mummers and Racism
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 02:27 PM

Some might say a 'home' would be a good place for me... actually Dave I didnt consider you one of the tired illiterates

robert


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