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Exploring Masks You do not wear the Mask. The Mask wears you  - Marco Luly

Why do people wear masks?

  1. To hide their identity (robbers, Spiderman)

  1. To reveal their identity (Batman) So masks have a duality (they hide and reveal!) which is at the core of their fascination.

  1. To make themselves larger than life (people far away can see essential features clearly. Think Pavarotti’s eyebrows!) In Western theatre, Masks began in huge Greek amphitheatres which required large performances.

  1. To play demons, gods, animals, supernatural / non-human beings. This is the origin of all masks. The hunter donning the bear’s head/skin to deceive (to get close enough to kill) or to impersonate (in a dance/ritual of blessing, or to assume the bear’s powers.)

  1.  To help play the opposite gender (eg Noh onnegata roles – traditionally, no actresses were allowed)

  1. To enable fast role/character changes (3 ancient Greek or Noh actors playing several roles)

A Mask is a device to drive the spirit out of the body in order that it may be possessed
by the spirit of the Mask.

- Keith Johnstone


Exploring Masks


6 sessions of 1.5hrs


Sec / JC / ITE*

 IB or GCSE welcome

Class size

20 preferred

(One mask for every participant)

Date / Times

Your choice






 50% subsidy eligible

The Masks I use are all from Java and Bali. The full Masks are unpainted - they work well in the Studio or in small performance spaces (I often get the students to do interactive work say in the school canteen).

The work they produce alternates between high comedy and pathos - many of the characters hover on the edge of society, feeling isolated, ostracised or misunderstood.