Unconvention 2014 Speaker Details
Jim Birch became a morris man in 1973 with The Men of Sweyns Ey, a side which also took a mummers play around Swansea and the Gower at Christmas, and in due course he first appeared as Little Devil Doubt. Moving to Wantage in 1977 he joined Icknield Way Morris Men and that year was invited to perform with the Wantage Mummers. After a number of years pressure of work and family led to him dropping these pursuits but he returned to morrising in 2001, reappeared as a Wantage Mummer in 2003, and has been active ever since. He is presently their Bagman.
Tim Chatham is a member of Coventry Mummers and a practising solicitor. He has been involved in the revival and performance of the Stoneleigh play since 1975 and is lead contact between the mummers and the people and organisations of the village.
Matt Fletcher is a Senior Lecturer in Performance at Southampton Solent University, and coordinator of Artifice, a cross-media arts ensemble based in Southampton. He works as a writer, director and performer in theatre and live art contexts, specialising in work which investigates issues around process, audience interactivity and space. He is also the founder of legendary performance troupe The Butlers.
Randall Fraser is a founding member and director of the Alberta Avenue Mummers Collective in Edmonton, Alberta. Randall studied theatre at the University of Alberta, is a producing director of the National Stilt Walkers of Canada and a creator of giant puppets and associated special events.
Mark Gowers enjoys mumming and acting in professional theatre. Research interests include traditional drama and interactive performances. Last year he obtained his PhD in Theatre Studies from Royal Holloway University; an institution founded by a man selling fake ointments “curing” everything from palsy, to gout, scalds, rheumatism, ulcers and scrofula. He aims to follow in that tradition.
Professor in Drama at the University of Chester and currently Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor. He gained his degrees in Drama, Education and Folklore at the University of Leeds (Ph.D. 1980 “The Performance of English Folk Plays: A Study in Dramatic Form and Social Function”) and previously taught theatre arts at the University of Addis Ababa (1980 – 1985) and Bretton Hall (1985 – 1996). He has published in Lore and Language; Folk Life: A Journal of Ethnological Studies; Studies in Theatre and Performance; Performance Research; Popular Entertainment Studies and Contemporary Theatre Review.
Mat Levitt was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. He received his MA in Anthropology from the University of Alberta in 2011. His MA thesis, “The Laughing Storyteller: Metafolklore about the Origins of Mummers’ Plays” focused on the metafolklore – or stories about folklore – told by writers, scholars, mummers and audience members about where mummers’ plays came from and how they developed over time. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, still working with the Coventry Mummers and the Alberta Avenue Mummers Collective, and some Newfoundland janneyers too.
David Lock is an independent consultant in Environmental Chemistry. A lifelong folk singer and musician, he was introduced to the Morris tradition (and subsequently to mumming) whilst a student. Co-founder of the Whitchurch Steam Punkers, he has written a number of play adaptations on environmental themes, together with the full-length comedy “Mummers”, performed during the Liverpool Capital of Culture event in 2008.
Lynn Lunde (Anthropology BA MEd PhD) is a performer in the Newfoundland Mummers Play and a researcher of the Newfoundland mumming tradition. The working title of her dissertation is ‘The History and Tradition of Masking and Disguising Traditions in Newfoundland and Labrador’, with a focus on the mumming tradition. In the early 1970s she co-founded the Mummers Theatre Troupe, a collective creation theatre company based in and espousing the Newfoundland culture. Their first production, and the production which gave the company its name, was a recreation of the Newfoundland Mummers Play, a tradition unseen on the island since World War I. Following tradition, the play was performed in people’s homes. The play has been performed in St. John’s and environs since 1972 by both professional performers and community groups.
Helen Marshall is a British artist with a track record in collaborative practice whose work is rooted in photography and design. Her portfolio includes commissions for BBC Television, Tate Britain, The Photographers’ Gallery and a recent Arts Council funded collaboration in Indonesia that was showcased at the Delhi Photo Festival and Kuala Lumpur Photo Awards. Current work is investigating aspects of British vernacular customs and traditions.
Peter Millington, University of Nottingham, has been researching British and Irish folk drama for 40 years, and gained his PhD from the University of Sheffield in 2002 for his thesis “The Origins and Development of English Folk Plays”. He founded the Traditional Drama Research Group’s website http://www.folkplay.info/ , and currently runs the Master Mummers website http://www.mastermummers.org/.
Steve Rowley has been involved in mumming since the mid-1970s. He is a member of the Gloucestershire Morris Mummers and the founder and chair of the Mummers Unconvention that hosts our symposium series.