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Sarah Murphy

on 28 May 2014

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Transcript of Masks

Facial Expressions
To isolate certain traits for mask-making, it's important to read the movements of the face to convey emotion.
Commedia dell'arte
16th Century (1500s) Italy:
Commedia dell'arte
is a form of theatre characterized by masked “types”, both male and female actors giving improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios.

Actors wore masks that did not cover the whole face.

stock character

embodies certain traits.
The "masks" are created with make-up, and like Commedia, each make-up type represents a different stock character, creature, or archetype.
Ancient Greece
What is the impression of this guy we're supposed to get? What makes that impression? What is the overall effect of the "mask"?
Acting: Ancient Greek actors had to gesture grandly so that the entire audience could see and hear the story. However most Greek theatres were cleverly constructed to transmit even the smallest sound to any seat.
The Theater at Delphi, Greece
How might masks have been helpful to an actor performing in a theater like this one?
In a large open-air theatre, masks were able to bring the characters’ face closer to the audience, especially since they had intensely over-exaggerated facial features and expressions.

They enabled an actor to appear and reappear in several different roles, thus preventing the audience from identifying the actor to one specific character.

Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character’s appearance, ie. Oedipus after blinding himself.
Still from Tyrone Guthrie’s filmed adaption of Oedipus Rex, 1957
Greek Theater Mask
1st century BC
Why is his mouth so big?
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (victorious Genji general) - a character from the famous Kabuki play,
Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura. The play
premiered n 1747 in Japan. It was written by Takeda Izumo II, Miyoshi Shōraku and Namiki Senryū I.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (victorious general) - a character from the famous 18th century Kabuki play,
Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
Masks isolate certain traits or emotions, help tell a story, help the audience understand the characters, and can even help the audience to understand greater truths.
Masks in Religious Ritual
Masks can help to connect human beings to things and ideas greater than themselves: ancestors, spirit world, big concepts.
Masks perform in the Winiama village of Ouri, in central Burkina Faso, in 2006 and 2007. The masks represent spirits of nature that watch over the community, families, and their individual senior male owners. The monkey mask is the trickster, always mischievous, and the bush buffalo is the most powerful and dangerous animal in the wilderness.
These masks are owned by heads of families, and handed down from one generation to the next. What is the purpose of these masks?
Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.

Comes from Latin
, "soul, life". The worldview that non-human entities, including animals, plants, and often even inanimate objects or phenomena, possess a spiritual essence.
Try sketching out these expressions, taking note of the position of the eyebrows, and shape of the mouth.
How do the masks help
commedia troupes to entertain their audiences?

How could commedia masks help the audience (who was largely illiterate) understand the play?
Full transcript