What would it be like to meet yourself?
Have you ever wondered what it would look like if someone played your own mask?
In this project, we went through a process of casting faces and making a series of Naturalistic masks from the casts.
What face to capture?
This is a new approach in how to make a theatre mask. In the process of casting, our faces relax as the layers of mod roc are applied. Over a process of 10 minutes the modrock sets and the shape is fixed.
But this leads to the question, what shape do we want to capture? When we cast a completely relaxed face, the outcome creates a mask similar to a death mask, an almost expressionless form.
Embracing this exploration, what does this open up? What would it be to see a chorus of these powerful, almost expressionless masks? It can sometimes seem like they are a type of bouffon and have a presence and power from a different world.
How we create expression in the face
In the other extreme, how can we create a dynamic of movement or expression in the face?
Working with the performers, we explored a range of expressions – what they were drawn to, and different uses of images, emotions or inspirations which they wanted to use. In each case we found a dynamic of movement and a way for them access and hold it, as they would need to stay with it as the mod roc sets for 10 minutes.
Big expressions vs. Small expressions
In creating the range of expressions across the performers – a question which arose was what degree of expression would create the best mask?
One the magical things about mask, is for one mask to be able to play multiple emotions. The performer on stage is wearing one fixed mask, and yet a change in angle or body language of a performer, makes it seem as it the mask has moved or the face has changed. In this process creating masks from casting direct faces expressions, what will make the best masks for improvisation and play on stage.
Masks of Expression
When the masks were made and later played, it was the ones with the subtle movements of emotions within them (i.e. the smaller degrees of expression) that were most versatile and effective on stage. They brought out multiple layers of expression in the improvisations and mask play.
In contrast the masks with extreme expression, could still “play” but would require dramatic movements to make them believable and would only work on stage for short periods of time. They could only sustain brief improvisations on stage, before the mask seemed fixed.