Happy Holidays from the American Folklife Center! In this blog post, you can enjoy our 2022 holiday mummers' play. As you may know, every year, in the week of the Library’s holiday party, staff members of the American Folklife Center put our research and performance skills into play, bringing collections to life in a dramatic performance that tours the halls of the Library of Congress. Dressed in costumes that range from striking to silly, we sing, act, rhyme, and dance for other Library staff members and for members of the public. Our performances are based on the ancient tradition of mumming, which has come down to our archive in the form of play scripts, songs, photos, and other items collected in the early twentieth century. This year's play was called The Flute of Ice: A Mumming from the Vault. This blog post includes the video, the script, explanatory notes, and still photos from the performance and dress rehearsal.
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!
We're continuing the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with The Armagh Rhymers, one of the most celebrated traditional music and theatre ensembles on the island of Ireland. As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore!
The American Folklife Center's 2021 Mummers play is about a zoom meeting that gets invaded by a hacker who won't let the participants leave until he gets a bitcoin ransom. 2021 has felt like a zoom meeting that wouldn't end, so we hope our audience can relate! Find a video of the play and the complete annotated script in this blog!
In the week or two before Christmas, staff members of the American Folklife Center engage in a dramatic, comedic, and musical performance that tours the halls of the Library of Congress. The performance is based on traditional mummers’ plays, and allows us to put our research skills into play alongside our more playful impulses. This year, we realized we couldn't perform our mummers’ play live, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We didn't want to let the pandemic defeat us, though, so we decided to do our play anyway--just in a different way. We've been recording our podcast, Folklife Today, remotely throughout the pandemic, we reasoned. So why not do the mummers' play as a podcast episode, sort of like an old-time radio play? The audio, play script, and photos are all here in this blog!
Happy Thanksgiving! In this post, we’ll take a look at a set of interesting photos from the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. They depict a custom most people nowadays don’t know much about: Thanksgiving masking. Thanksgiving maskers, like trick-or-treaters on contemporary Halloween, used to go door to door, begging for handouts. They also …
Read the text and see the photos of the American Folklife Center's holiday play! It's 1814 and the U.S. Capitol has been burned by the British. President James Madison throws Library of Congress collections in a sleigh and seeks help from Father Christmas and the preservation specialists at the North Pole Library! The latest version of our play, which tours the halls of the Library of Congress. Each year, dressed in costumes that range from striking to silly, we sing, act, rhyme, and dance for other Library staff members and for members of the public. Our performances are based on the ancient tradition of mumming, which has come down to our archive in the form of play scripts, songs, photos, and other items collected in the early twentieth century.
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.
In my last post about the origins of Father Christmas in the 17th century, I mentioned that most English people today barely distinguish between Father Christmas and Santa Claus. This merger of the two characters is a 19th century development, and was largely complete by the turn of the 20th century. Three hundred years after …