Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

The Lancashire Boggart Plays: A Lost Local Theatre Tradition?

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2014), 163, (1), 93–110.

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century a series of Lancashire communities put on boggart plays, comic productions that were often entirely or partially in dialect. These plays are for the most part lost: only one nineteenth-century boggart play survives. But contemporary notices give us a unique insight into the theatre, dialect and treatment of the supernatural in Lancashire in the mid-late Victorian period. The earliest of these boggart plays was written by one Edward Slater, a talented Burnley composer and author who partnered with the Burnley Part Song Union. The concentration of several of the boggart plays around Burnley (Bacup, Sabden and Todmorden) and a later and apparently derivative Edwardian boggart play from the West Riding (Baildon, fifteen miles from Burnley) suggest that Slater may have given the initial impulse to this particularly Lancashire form of theatre.

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Author details

Young, Simon