Mother Naked


Dame Edna, via Wikimedia Commons. Was Mother Naked the medieval equivalent of a modern pantomime dame?

Dame Edna, via Wikimedia Commons. Was Mother Naked a flamboyant performer like Dame Edna Everage? The equivalent of a pantomime dame? Or something else?

We’re counting down an ‘advent’ calendar of highlights from the exhibition Plays, Processions and Parchment: Discovering Festive Traditions in the North East of England, which launches on 19th April. This exhibition celebrates some of the forgotten folk traditions, religious rituals, performance history, and plays from the region. 

With nine days to go, we’re getting naked – not literally of course! Records from Durham Priory in 1433-1434 show that a performer by the name of ‘Mother Naked’ was paid the measly sum of four pence for whatever act it was that he put on.

This was the lowest fee for any performer in two centuries of accounts. Was his act thought to be obscene, and the low payment meant to discourage him? And who on earth was Mother Naked anyway? Come along to the exhibition to find out more about him, and to share your thoughts on what type of show he might have put on.

Plays, Processions and Parchment runs from 19th April to 22nd May in the Chapel of Nine Altars, Durham Cathedral. Entry is free. Visit the website for more details, and to see the accompanying programme of weekly talks. The exhibition is curated by Records of Early English Drama North East

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