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Mumming Up: AFC Mumming on Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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The 2018 AFC Mummers at their dress rehearsal deep in the tunnels under the Library of Congress. Photo by Carl Fleischhauer.

The American Folklife Center Mummers will present their annual mummers’ play in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11.

It’s open to the public, so come on in and see us perform!

This year’s play is called AFC Mums While Washington Burns: A Conservation Mumming. It’s 1814 and the Capitol has just been burned by the British, so James Madison throws Library collections in a dogsled and heads for the conservators at the North Pole Library.

12 people in colorful costumes stand in front of a large Christmas Tree in the Library of Congress Great Hall.
The 2016 American Folklife Center Mummers perform at the Library of Congress Holiday Party in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building. The cast at program’s end: Captain Acquisition (David Brunton), Fiddler (Cathy Kerst), Guitarist (Maya Lerman), Curly Toes (Jennifer Cutting), Bishop (Stephanie Hall), Father Christmas (Stephen Winick), Linear Feet (Valda Morris), Metro Manager (Alicia Bartlett), Arrearage Squid (George Thuronyi), Doctor Dover (Thea Austen), Processing Saint George (Sarah Lerner), and Processing Pro (Hope O’Keefe).

Mummers’ plays are short 15-minute plays, which were traditionally performed in England, Ireland, colonial America and the West Indies at holiday time. Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink and small change as a reward for their entertainment. The plays involve a hero and a villain and a theme of death and resurrection, usually by a comic doctor character. The American Folklife Center’s archive boasts one of the largest collections of traditional English mummers’ play texts in the world in its James Madison Carpenter collection.

AFC staged our first mummers play for fellow staff members back in 2009 and have done it every year since. This is our eleventh play!

To read more about mumming in general, and our tradition of mumming at AFC, visit this blog postTo read the texts of some of our plays from previous years, visit this one!

We’d love for you to join us in the Great Hall, to cheer on your favorite characters and boo your least favorites. You’ll also have a chance to sing along on traditional English carols and other songs. Once again, it’s 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11. Hope to see you there!



  1. I would love to see this – will it be video recorded? I live in central WV and it is a bit of a jaunt there in such a busy time…

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