Drama and Dance in the South Downs
The folk play traditionally acted around Christmas time in this area is the Sussex Mummers (locally 'Tipteers' or 'Tipteerers') Play of St George and the Turkish Knight. The play was carried on through oral tradition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in, for example, Sompting, Steyning, Washington, Duncton, East Preston, Chithurst and Iping.
Like the Turkish Knight who gets brought back to life every time he's killed, this tradition won't lie down! In Rottingdean the Copper family (see Songs above) still perform their local version of the Mummers Play, sing, and play carols on handbells.
In the early 20th century the tradition of the East Preston and Chithurst Tipteers was carried on by the Boxgrove Tipteers, who combined it with traditional folk song and dancing.
Also in the early 20th century Sompting schoolchildren carried on the dramatic and folk dancing tradition; in the late 20th century the play version was performed in Lancing & Sompting Pastfinders Christmas parties, which had been collected from a Sompting boy in 1882. The dancing was taken up and developed by the Sompting Village Morris, whose Tipteerers use the very similar version of the Mummers Play collected in Steyning. The photo above shows them performing this at the June Sompting Festival. If you would like to learn to dance with the Sompting Village Morris, look on their website for details.
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