Burntwood Guisers’ Play [Staffordshire, pre-1939]

A.Helm & E.C.Cawte (1967) pp.25-29


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Context:
Location: Burntwood, Staffordshire, England (SK0609)
Year: Perf. Before 1939
Time of Occurrence: Christmas
Collective Name: Guisers

Source:

Alex Helm & E.C.Cawte
Six Mummers' Acts
Leicestershire, Guizer Press, 1967, pp.25-29


Cast: (Click on any name for the character name index.)
Text:

Enter In

I open this door and enter in
The greatest favours fought to win.
Whether we rise, stand or fall
We do our duty to please you all.
Room, room, gallant room.
Pray give us room to rise.
We mean to show you Gia's act
Upon this Christmas time.
We are not of a ragged set
But of a loyal trim.
If you don't believe the words I say,
Step in Bold Guide, and clear the way.

Bold Guide

Here am 1, Bold Guide's my name
To England's town I sprang again,
I've searched this wide world round and round,
To find King George, I'll give ten thousand pound.

Enter In

King George, King George stands at the door
And swears he will come in.
With sword and buckle by his side
He swears he'll ran thy skin.
Step in King George.

King George

Here am, I King George,
A noble champion bold.
With my bright sword in hand,
I've won three crowns of gold.

Bold Guide

What three crowns?

King George

Effla, Sheffla, amma roceo.
'Twas I who fought the fiery dragon
Through and through and brought it to the slaughter
By means of this and that(sword and buckle)
I won the King of Egypt's daughter.

Enter In

Stir up these bars and make a light
And watch these two jolly actors fight.
The hour has come, the clock has struck one.
It's time this battle had begun.

{The fight}

O King! O King! What hast thou done?
Thou hast fought and slain my only son.
Five pounds for a doctor!

Doctor {outside}

No doctor for five pounds.

Enter In

Ten pounds.

Doctor {enters}

From the fireplace to the cupboard.

Enter In

How came you to be a doctor?

Doctor

By my travels.

Enter In

How far are your travels?

Doctor

From the fireplace to the cupboard.

Enter In

Any farther?

Doctor

From the top of the stairs to the bottom.

Enter In

Cure me this man.

Doctor

Here, Jack, take a drop out of this bottle
and let it run down thy throttle,
and if thou feelest well,
rise up and fight again.

Enter In

That's not cured the man

Doctor

I have another bottle in my inside outside jacket waisr-coat pocket,
containing heathercome, smethercome, oakum, Spain,
which brings dead men to life again.
Here. Jack, take a drop out of this phial,
open thy mouth and oil thy dial.

Bold Guide

Oh, my back!

Doctor

What ails thy back?

Bold Guide

My back is wounded, bad and sore,
I feel I cannot fight no more.
If you can't believe the words I say,
Step in Black Prince, and clear the way.

Black Prince

Here am 1, black Prince of Paradise,
The Black Morocco King.
And all the woods I travel through,
I'm bound to make them ring.
If you cannot believe the words I say,
Step in, Old Girl, and clear the way.

Old Lady Be-elzebub

Here am 1, Old Lady Be-elzebub,
Under my arm I carry my club,
Over my shoulder my dripping pan,
Don't you think I'm a jolly old girl.
Rink, jink, jink, and a sup more drink
Would make the old kettle cry clinkety clink.
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are able,
Put your hands in your pockets
And think of the ladle.
The ladle is dumb, and never yet spake.
There's six so stout and six so bold
Could eat a plum pudding before it's half cold.
And if your plum pudding is chanced to be pale
We could drink a good jug of your old Christmas ale.
And if your old Christmas ale is chanced to be strong,
We accomodate you with a jolly good song.

All {sung as a round}

[MIDI music sound file] [ABC music notation]

The cock sat up in the Yew tree, the hen came cackling by,
I wish you a merry Christmas and a big fat pig in the stye.


Notes:

Helm & Cawte's Introduction:

The Staffordshire Guisers

The ceremony was known in a large number of villages in Staffordshire and still takes place. The performers were sometimes called Guisers (as in Derbyshire), Molly Guisers, or Molly Dancers, though there was no morris dance as that expression is usually understood. One of Mr Everett's informants in about 1954, attributed its decline to the performers having too much money and being able to buy their own beer: the same man thought that a trade slump would bring It to life again. The note on costume Is brief, but there are records of performers elsewhere In the county being dressed in newspaper; whether this meant in strips or whole sheets is not clear. Others wore their coats Inside out, and still others blacked their faces. As usual, the final song has no relevance to the action which precedes it, and is nothing more than an attempt to promote generosity from the spectators.

Burntwood.(SK0609) lies between the coal mining area of Cannock Chase and the industry of Walsall. Mr Everett's enquiries showed that this area in particular had many plays at one time, and in about 1954, when he was collecting there, the ceremony was still alive. Enquiries now may still produce more examples than are known so far, but It would be expected that they would follow roughly the same pattern as the text below.

Burntwood Guisers' Play

Collected by Mr W.Everett from MrAstley who had performed in the play at Christmas before the Second World War. The song was collected by Mr G.Mendham at the same time. The only Information additional to the text is that the players went to great lengths to make their costumes as elaborate as possible.

Indexer's Notes:

Electronic text copied from http://members.lycos.co.uk/Sandmartyn/guzier/guz01.htm


File History:
1999 - Scanned by Martyn Collins
10th April 2004 - Marked up, proof-read against original notes added by Peter Millington
12th June 2004 - MIDI and ABC music links added by PTM

The recommended URL for this web page is www.folkplay.info/Texts/93sk00we.htm
Last generated on 26/12/2007 by P.Millington (Peter.Millington1@virgin.net)