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plough plays


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One of the three main types of mumming play, found only in the East Midlands, and first reported in the 1820s. Performances were concentrated on Plough Monday, but could take place at any time over the Christmas/New Year period, and were typically by teams of male farmworkers who, in addition to performing the play around the neighbourhood, dragged a plough with them, and were thus often called by local names such as Plough Jags, Plough Bullocks, and so on. Plough plays invariably include the combat/cure sequence of the more widespread Hero-Combat type of play, but their main feature, which distinguishes them, is a ‘wooing’ section. Either a ‘Lady’ (played by a man) is wooed by a series of suitors or, more commonly, a Recruiting Sergeant entices the Lady's farmworker lover away and she then accepts the Fool's advances. Much of the wooing is expressed in sung dialogue.

Peter Millington, FMJ 7:1 (1995), 71–2;Helm, 1981: 11–19;M. W. Barley, JEFDSS 7:2 (1953), 68–95;C. R. Baskervill, Modern Philology 21 (1923), 225–72.


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