The American Folklife Center Mummers will present their annual mummers’ play in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, 10 1st Street SE in Washington, DC, at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13.
This year’s play is called The Flute of Ice: A Mumming From the Vault. It’s 1816 and President Madison visits the North Pole Library to deposit a flute made of ice! But soon Father Christmas, the North Pole Librarian, and Dr. Joculus have to deal with dueling monsters. Will their celebrity guest get to play the flute before it melts? The American Folklife Center’s annual holiday play incorporates traditional songs, music, and folk drama from Library of Congress collections for a zany and fun time in the Great Hall.
It’s open to the public, so come on in and see us perform! Due to COVID restrictions, you’ll need a timed-entry pass to enter the Jefferson Building. If you can, visit this website in advance and register for a timed-entry pass. Just click on the red number in the box for the time you’d like to enter, and a popup will open allowing you to sign up.)
If you can’t sign up in advance, bring your mobile phone–outside there’s a QR code that will allow you to sign up on the spot as long as there are remaining spaces-we expect there will be. but it’s safest to register in advance.
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. During the pandemic we did it once as a podcast and once as a zoom meeting. This is our fourteenth play!
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 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13. Hope to see you there!