Vicky Wright teaches Behind the Mask at the Actors Centre on 3 November. In anticipation of the workshop, Vicky writes about the power of the neutral mask and how it illuminates the physical aspects of performance.
The neutral mask is an incredible tool for a performer to use to check in with what their body is saying onstage. It opens up the study of non-verbal communication and how your posture, breath, focus, and relationship to space can tell a story.
Discovering what your body can hold and how you can express yourself in many different ways is essential in the journey of training as a performer and helps show where your tools and strengths lie.
Behind the Mask
The neutral mask was originally developed by Amleto Sartori and Jacques Lecoq in the 1970s. It is a leather mask, carefully proportioned to show all the emotions of the human being.
As a mask-maker, creating a neutral mask is equivalent to drawing a perfect circle. It is a theoretical impossibility. The continuing presence and popularity of the Sartori masks reflect an important underlying fact that these specific masks are the closest as-of-yet to this theoretically impossible perfect circle.
There is magic behind this mask. When worn by different performers, the transformation – seemingly in the mask – is spellbinding. It can seem that the mask changes, when really it unveils the peripheral information we pick up from the body language of the performers.
Our experience of breath, connection to the senses, posture, and relationship to space subtly shift our presence on stage.
In a workshop environment, we can uncover and experiment the many states of being, opening up doorways to new characters and ways of creating.
How to Make a Neutral Mask
We will explore the essential ingredients that underlies the neutral mask. In history, theatre performers have explored covering the head in different ways to study this field of neutrality. We will work with numerous methods and types of neutral mask to discover what is possible.
From inspiring the faces featured in the film Avatar to shaping styles of physical theatre, the neutral mask and practice of neutrality has a strong creative influence on performer development and pushing the boundaries of new theatre development.
Behind the Mask runs on 3 November. For more information and booking links, click here.
About Vicky Wright
Vicky Wright is a physical theatre teacher and mask-maker. Founder of Making Faces Theatre, she integrates a study of the body with mask. The foundation of her work originates from Lecoq-based physical theatre, studying at Helikos International School of Theatre Creation, Italy & mask-making studies with Matteo Destro. She currently teaches Lecoq movement at Fourth Monkey Acting School in London, alongside developing further inter-disciplinary research projects in animal movement & mask.
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