A website cannot do justice to the aura and experience of a Souling Play in full swing so no attempt is made at a detailed description or by giving of the script. However, what is presented here should give some idea towards the nature of the Play.
The traditional Mumming, Pace Egg and Souling plays have a
surprising commonality of cast members in them. These cast members
rarely appear all at once and so a selection may form the cast of any
one particularly play depending upon type, area etc. Sometimes it's
simply a name change such as King George or St George. Some plays will
have a Black Prince and a Turkish Champion whereas others have one or
Even across the same play type there can be differences. The Antrobus souling play for instance has a Derry Doubt yet the Warburton souling play doesn't.
In the case of our Warburton Souling Play our characters are as follows.
The Warburton play was collected
The Play is produced more or less as collected by Alex Helm
James Thomason of Lymm. It would be wrong to say it is identical as
there are always interpretations and slight variations when the
different people play the various characters - as indeed there would
have been in the Play's original form. Also our kit varies from that
collected for some of the characters as much of it's style owes more to
was to hand from other activities when the Play was revived. As the
revival progressed so has the kit evolved, as can be seen by a look
through some of the photographs to be found in the 1978 Revival page and Past Gallery section of the
site. No doubt
it will continue to evolve but at a much slower pace now the Play has
matured into it's current state.
What can be said by way of a brief description of the performance is that the Play starts with a song, usually sung outside the main door of the venue, followed by the Enterer making his entrance to set the scene for the Play.
This is followed by King George who in turn prepares for the Turkish champion's entrance. A fight ensues between the latter two during which the Turkish Champion is 'killed'. The Old Woman comes on to mourn the passing of her son and requests the attendance of a Doctor. The Doctor makes an entrance and after much ado revives the Turkish Champion.
Once revived, and as is the case throughout the performance, those no longer having a part in the Play make a discrete exit, the Turkish Champion then calls on Beelzebub who, not being anything like the good guy makes his presence felt. Finally Beelzebub calls on the Driver together with the Horse and all his men, which is a prompt for the rest of the Gang to enter.
At the end of the Driver's speech a final song brings the Play
close and prompts the cast to go around with their hats. As has already
been mentioned, in the past the Gang would have collected for their own
upkeep but these days any funds collected go to local charities.
Anyone who wishes to find out more about Souling and other
Traditional English plays, together with various variants that have
migrated to other shores, are directed to two websites dedicated to
such matters. One is the Traditional
Drama Research Group
based at Sheffield University and the second is a complementary website,
Mummers, providing more of a database format.
This page updated: 28th February 2008.