“St. George and the Dragon”
In December of 2004 Syracuse Branch members were persuaded by the promise of great fun at no expense to vary their traditional Christmas Luncheon with a Medieval Wassail Party featuring a Mummer’s Play “St. George and the Dragon.”
On the appointed day, the attendees, not knowing quite what to expect, gathered as usual in the Library at the Century Club, there to enjoy a Wassail Bowl rather than the usual cocktails. From time to time an amply proportioned Surveyor of Ceremonies would raise his glass aloft, warble a few bars of “Here We Go A Caroling Among the Fields so Green,” and shout “Wassail !” Timidly at first, but with increasing enthusiasm as the procedure was repeated several times, the guests replied “Wassail.”
In due course the guests moved to the dining room whereto, announced by an appropriate fanfare on the piano and a recorded chorus singing “The Boar’s Head Carol,” the Surveyor of Ceremonies led a procession of noble ladies arrayed in period costumes carrying a Yule Candle, a Plum Pudding, a Boar’s Head, and a Peacock, the latter two understandably made of papier-mache. The Surveyor of Ceremonies bellowed “May the Feast begin?” and was told firmly “No, not until First Foot crosses the Christmas Threshold,” whereupon the Jester cavorted several times around and over a green strip of crepe paper which had been placed on the floor and proceeded to rather ostentatiously collect a coin from each person at the Head Table. The Surveyor queried again impatiently “May the Feast begin?” This time the answer was affirmative and the Jester went around to the other tables collecting coins.
There then followed a veritable Feast of Roast Prime Rib of Beef au jus. During dessert the actors exited to don their costumes and after another medieval sounding fanfare the Jester read aloud the Introduction to the Play. The actors, fortified by Wassail and the knowledge that soon it all would be over, struggled valiantly to read their lines, scripts and swords in hand. in a very limited space which caused some confusion to an audience already somewhat perplexed by George’s thick Southern accent. (Note: A subsequent production had a George with a bona fide British accent but who unfortunately skipped a few lines and while exulting in his victory, had to be reminded by the Dragon that he hadn’t actually killed him yet.].
Eventually, however, the Dragon was dutifully slain and expired in great agony, Soldan Bluster, the villainous villain, was vanquished, the beautiful Princess was rescued , and the guests sang Christmas Carols with great gusto. All the coins dropped into the Jester”s pail went to the Scholarship Fund.
For the next several years the Luncheon was sold out. However, St. George eventually ran out of villains and dragons to defeat and had to be replaced by another dastardly evildoer, Guy Fawkes, but that is another story. . .