Building a Half Mask

Last week we dug in, got our hands dirty and started to make our own half masks. It was a rewarding process, but it isn’t done yet. We’ll show our first performances with them tomorrow. Matteo mentioned that making these masks has an element of alchemy. The shape you form in the clay transfers from material to material, from plaster to paper, then it transforms the actor’s body and if it’s good, it will finally arrive to the audience. Even if you think it’s a really good one, you don’t know if your proposal in clay will sustain a performance until you play it.

Making a plaster cast of your face helps keep your proportions accurate.

Comedy or tragedy? I don’t know, but I think he’s a republican.

Now we’re midway though the second term at school. These weeks are all about performing in half face mask. How do you play this technically demanding form of theater while bringing intuitive ease that makes the performance interesting to see? Finding the body and voice of the mask, improvising from that place and building up a piece that is true. If you’re prepared and lucky it can generate very funny and touching work.

Jenine describes the work very well on her website:

Dramatic depth can be found in the action of simple every day things.  And it is in the action that the sentiment is revealed.  The action is seen through very strict action and reaction with your co-players.  A delicate dance of technique and sentiment – without one you don’t have the other.  Although more often than not we’ll forgive lack of technique over sentiment. As Matteo says without sentiment your mask is nothing more than paper mache and elastic.


3 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. Colleen Casey,

    Amazing transformation!

  2. Sara,

    I asked Bannack what he thought of the mask, whether it was happy or sad, and he said said. I then said, “Comedy or Tragedy” and he said, “tragedy.” I told him that you would put on the mask and perform and he made a very excited, open-mouthed face, threw his arms in the air and then hugged me. That was it. Break-a-leg!!!

  3. I think B will like it! I’ll make him one too if you like.