The Actors Centre

Masks make theatre alive and kicking

21 September 2017

Discover a new way to make work



I first became interested in mask-work in the seventies when I realised that there must be more to acting than watching people sitting around talking to each other and behaving as if they were on television.

I like theatre to be theatrical; alive and kicking like a football match, where the actors and the audience are unmistakably both in the same room. These ideas become an instant reality the moment I introduce masks.

Like acting, mask-work is dominated by people writing about things that they purport to understand but have never actually done for themselves.

Mask-work is empowering. It enables you to find aspects of yourself that you didn't know you had. It inspires you to make big, bold choices and mess about with meaning in a way that's impossible to do sitting round a table making notes in the margin from the thoughts and feelings of your elders and betters. But this isn't a course about making masked theatre.

My workshop – and new book, Playing the Mask – bring mask-work and acting together. It poses the question: What can mask-work teach us about acting? Contrary to popular opinion; they're one and the same thing and you’ll be invited to play a mask to find its quality, then remove that mask and play that quality as yourself.

Mask-work isn't some arcane skill requiring special training. It's as instinctive as blinking - and we all do that, all the time. No previous experience is required. All you need is an open mind and an appetite for messing about with ideas. 


John Wright - Director, Author and Tutor at the Actors Centre

Check out John's workshop, Writing with a Stupid Face, on 26 September and book your spot! Click here

John's new book Playing the Mask: Acting Without Bullshit, is published on 19 October by Nick Hern Books.