Folk drama in Scotland

Hayward, Brian John (1983) Folk drama in Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Volume one; Chapter one: begins by defining the subject area of the thesis, and terminology of the title. A brief review of the study of folk drama reveals two very significant gaps in our understanding, firstly that the folk play in Scotland has been conspicuously neglected, and secondly that no detailed study has been undertaken of the evolution of British folk drama. The importance of the Scottish element in the British and Irish context suggests that this thesis, in satisfying the first demand, would contribute in a major way to the achievement of the second. Chapter Two studies the mass of textual and other evidence collected and presented in Gazetteer form in Appendix One, and by careful textual study discovers that the basic literary form of the plays' final period was created in the second half of the seventeenth century. There follows a consideration of the relative importance of oral transmission and the chapbook, and the chapter concludes with a study of the decline of the folk play. The important discovery here is that the tradition began to die c.1880, and the reasons are suggested to be the franchise and trades union legislation of the period which helped to convert Britain from a near-feudal to a near-democratic society. The importance of feudalism is developed throughout the thesis. Chapter Three maps the-play, and uses the distribution pattern as ameans of discovering the origin of the custom. Taking the resurrection motif and the English language as being two diagnostic features of the custom, the ethnology of Scotland before 1300 is searched for a phase that corresponded to the three factors of language, rite, and place. The conclusion is reached that the folk play was a product of the Northumbrian Kingdom of c.700-c.900, and the feudalisation of Scotland c.1100-c.1300. The feudal society is shown to be an important influence in the making and shaping of the custom. Chapter Four examines the many expressions of combat, death, and resurrection drama in medieval Scotland, under the headings of animal cults, ceremonial dance, and praying rites. The originality of this examination produces a new framework in which to understand many items of Scottish literature and history, but in particular illuminates passages in two important texts, the 'Plough Song', and the 'Jeu de Robin et Marion'. The central source of the folk action is considered to be the Summer and Winter King drama, but the clarity of the evidence is shorn to be obscured by the conflux of resurrection, dance and Haying custom about the figure of 'Robin'. This conflux produced 'Robin Hood', an important and, to some extent, dislocating figure in the development of the folk play. Chapter Five is therefore devoted to an examination of the relationship of Robin Hood to the folk play, and reveals a substantial area of folklore pertaining to Robin Hood, ignored or misunderstood by scholars since the sixteenth century. He is shown, in ballet and play, to have attracted bird and horse resurrection drama, and to have absorbed Summer and Winter King attributes. His importance in Scotland is both measured and explained, and -the Robin Hood of medieval play is distinguished from the familiar Robin Hood of the ballads. Finally, he is shown to be the leading figure of an extremely popular version of the folk play in sixteenth-century Scotland, prohibited by Act of Parliament in 1555. Chapter Six completes the historical survey by covering the years between the Reformation suppression of the folk play (1610), and the emergence of the modern custom (1701). The century is shown to be one in which the custom was transformed almost out of recognition. Certain threads of continuity are shown, however, the chief of which is the trio of folk play figures, Peter, Paul and Judas. Chapter Seven offers an interpretation of the modern play, using the historical bases established by the foregoing chapters. The hitherto-enigmatic 'galoshan' is explained, and the term thogmanayl discussed in the context of the folk play. In the enquiry into the season of the play, the place of Hallowe'en in the Scottish year is defined. There follows a survey of the manner of the play's performance, and a systematic examination of the text and action of the Scottish play, explaining most, but not all, of the custom's obscurities. The chapter concludes with a detailed study of the disintegration of the custom, and the marks it has left on contemporary Scottish traditions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Sandra Billington
Keywords: Theater history, British & Irish literature, Folklore
Date of Award: 1983
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1983-73843
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56

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