1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to English Folk Performance

Edited By Peter Harrop, Steve Roud Copyright 2021
    612 Pages 67 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    612 Pages 67 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This broad-based collection of essays is an introduction both to the concerns of contemporary folklore scholarship and to the variety of forms that folk performance has taken throughout English history.

    Combining case studies of specific folk practices with discussion of the various different lenses through which they have been viewed since becoming the subject of concerted study in Victorian times, this book builds on the latest work in an ever-growing body of contemporary folklore scholarship. Many of the contributing scholars are also practicing performers and bring experience and understanding of performance to their analyses and critiques. Chapters range across the spectrum of folk song, music, drama and dance, but maintain a focus on the key defining characteristics of folk performance – custom and tradition – in a full range of performances, from carol singing and sword dancing to playground rhymes and mummers' plays.

    As well as being an essential reference for folklorists and scholars of traditional performance and local history, this is a valuable resource for readers in all disciplines of dance, drama, song and music whose work coincides with English folk traditions.

    Introduction. - Peter Harrop & Steve Roud; Part l: Folk Drama, Theatre and Performance.; Part l Introduction. - Peter Harrop; Chapter 1: Towards an anatomy of English customary drama: theatre, stage, play. - Thomas Pettitt.; Chapter 2: Performing calendrical pressures: Shrovetide processions and shroving perambulations in premodern England. - Taylor Aucoin.; Chapter 3: Robin Hood folk-performance in fifteenth and sixteenth-century England. - John Marshall.; Chapter 4: Alongside the mummers’ plays: customary elements in amateur and semi-professional theatre 1730 – 1850. - Peter Harrop.; Chapter 5: The Alderley Mummers’ Play: A story of longevity. - Duncan Broomhead; Chapter 6: A performance bestiary. - Mike Pearson.; Chapter 7: Performing community: village life and the spectacle of worship in the work of Charles Marson. - Katie Palmer Heathman.; Chapter 8: Boxing Day Fancy Dress in Wigan. - Anna F C Smith; Part ll: Folk Dance.; Part ll Introduction. - Peter Harrop; Chapter 9: Merry Neets and Bridewains: contemporary commentaries on folk music, dance, and song in the Lake Counties during the Romantic period. - Sue Allan; Chapter 10: Sword Dancing in England: Texts and sources from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. - Stephen D Corrsin; Chapter 11: From Country Gardens to British Festivals: The Morris Dance Revival, 1886 – 1951. - Matt Simons; Chapter 12: The English Country Dance, Cecil Sharp and Authenticity. - Derek Schofield; Chapter 13: Douglas Kennedy and Folk Dance in English Schools. - Chloe Middleton-Metcalfe.; Chapter 14: Fancy Footwork: Reviewing the English Clog and Step Dance Revival. - Alex Fisher.; Chapter 15: Expanding a Repertoire: Leicester Morrismen and the Border Morris. - John Swift.; Chapter 16: Dancing with tradition: clog, step and short sword rapper in the twenty first century. - Libby Worth; Chapter 17: ‘Sequins, bows and pointed toes’: Girls' carnival morris – the ‘other’ morris dancing community. - Lucy Wright; Part lll: Folk Song and Music.; Part lll Introduction. - Steve Roud; Chapter 18: Recrafting Love and Murder: Print and Memory in the Mediation of a Murdered Sweetheart Ballad. - Thomas Pettitt; Chapter 19: Burlesquing the Ballad. - Steve Gardham; Chapter 20: The Rise and Fall of the West Gallery: popular religious music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. - Vic Gammon; Chapter 21: The Drive for English Identity in Music and the Foundation of the Folk-Song Society. - Arthur Knevett; Chapter 22: ‘No Art More Dangerous’ – Eve Maxwell-Lyte and Folk Song. - Martin Graebe; Chapter 23: Creativity versus Authenticity in the English folksong revival. - Brian Peters; Chapter 24: Folk Choirs: Their Origins and Contribution to the Living Tradition. - Paul Wilson & Marilyn Tucker; Chapter 25: ‘Past Performances on Paper’ – A Case Study of The Manuscript Tunebook of Thomas Hampton - Rebecca Dellow; Chapter 26: The Performers in the Playground: Children’s Musical Practices in Play. - Julia Bishop


    Peter Harrop is Professor Emeritus of Drama at the University of Chester, formerly Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor. His 2019 monograph Mummers’ Plays Revisited is published by Routledge as part of their series Advances in Theatre and Performance. In 2013 he edited Performance Ethnography: Dance, Drama, Music (with Dunja Njaradi).  

    Steve Roud is a freelance writer, researcher and consultant, formerly Head of Local Studies Library and Archives, London Borough of Croydon and the Honorary Librarian of the Folklore Society. His most recent works include the widely reviewed and critically acclaimed Folk Song in England (2017) as well as The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (2012) (with Julia Bishop).

    "This important work offers an impressive array of topics that are skilfully tied together, from drama and dance to song and music, covering the historical to the contemporary. With a high level of quality scholarship running throughout, this is a book that should appear on every folklorist’s bookshelf." – The Katharine Briggs Award (2022) Judges’ Report on the Shortlisted Entries.

    "This is a rich and stimulating collection that deserves to be read and thought about widely, one fruitfully triggering questions and discussions that will play out across all future studies in these areas." - Folk Music Journal

    "The editors have curated a pioneering collection of essays that brings together acknowledged experts in traditional drama, dance, music, song, custom and children’s lore. Tracing practices right through history from late medieval times up to revivals of the present day, they offer both a survey of and a rationale for folk performance. While modern revivals are frequently marked by the performers’ own interventions, the essays here reveal that has always been the practice and ‘authenticity’ is an elusive chimera. This volume marks a turning point in our understanding of the ‘folk arts’." - David Atkinson, Editor of the Folk Music Journal

    "This exemplary anthology of contemporary research on folk performing arts in England addresses a long felt need for a text that updates, informs, questions and inspires. Bringing together veteran and new scholars across various hues of history, performance studies and ethnography, this unique collection presents fresh and well-grounded insights into cultural labels and practices of folk drama, theatre, dance, song and music. Carefully framed to stimulate critical inquiry, the editors’ vision and commentaries, in tandem with the wealth of specially commissioned chapters, represent a turning point in folk performance publication. In short, there really is nothing else like this book available." - Professor Theresa Buckland, Editorial Consultant, Dance Research

    "The work presents a penetrating collection of articles by 26 contributors that analyse the folk performing arts of drama, dance, song and music. In doing so, it promotes a profound vision of these related, interdependent and overlapping performing genres. The editors are to be complemented on the vision of the work and their astute selection and organisation of it. The collection is bound to become a standard work in its field and a necessary 'go to' book for both its information and sharp analysis." - Philip Butterworth, theatre historian, Visiting Scholar, School of History, University of Leeds, UK