... ther was a May-game ... with a gyant, and drumes ... with spechys, and a goodly pageant with a qoen ... and dyvers odur, with spechys: and then Sant George and the dragon ... (diarist Henry Machyn, 1554)
The plays, customs and folklore that make up Bringing in the May are all rooted in time-honoured Maytime festivities. The welcoming of Spring, the joy at the return of 'the green', these activities go far back in history, and we are reviving them for the same reasons of celebration: to welcome the returning splendour of the sun. The late 20th century is struggling to sustain a sense of the natural world within its urban enclaves. The re-introduction of celebrations of the seasons on the urban streets where they were enjoyed before, is a way to connect again with nature.
Robin Hood is our protagonist. He leads the 'dance' of the May Games in combat-and-reconciliation plays, with the wild folk figure of the Jack-in-the-Green garland. Other traditional characters are the Lady of May (Mary, Magdelene, Maid Marian), the Dragon (ours is a Thames Dragon), the Hobby Horse, the Maypole and the much-loved followers of Robin Hood. The plays we perform are texts based on extant material from the 1470's.
Bringing in the May