Masks worn in work protect us….our eyes, face and lungs. Masks protect us from harm, and in a way the theatrical mask protects the wearer from judgment.
Marks are a part of every culture throughout history. They a part of theater tradition, storytelling, spiritual practice, celebrations and shows up in modern day as make up and even in the style of sun glasses we choose.
How we hold the face is a reflection of who are…how the world should see us.
When I was studying theater history at Boston University I had a choice; write a paper or do a project. I chose to carve a mask from a block of wood. I thought it would be easier….but it was not. Carving that mask took many hours sitting in my cramped apartment carving away bits of wood. My hands blistered and I got to know that piece of wood very well. When it was completed I wrote in the short paper required, that the investment in creating the masks increased it’s value. The hours of carving reflected a personal investment in the object. Masks are special.
Back in the 1980s I began to perform with the commedia group called Fratelli Bologna (The Bologna Brothers). We created our own masks, wrote and produced our own plays. A narrative driven by strong characters with almost obsessive appetites became our theatrical core.
I had no idea how to teach it until I studied with Keith Johnstone. Since those early days created and collected many masks, and have shared them around the world with students, professionals, executives and kids.
A short video of William wearing masks from Hong Kong