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Masks in Theatre

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Introduction

Masks in Theatre Masks have been used in theatre throughout history, adding an extra aspect to acting, and creating an extra fa´┐Żade and fantasy, so that the need for escapism could be fulfilled. Ancient Greek Theatre In Greek theatre, the members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors- a typical Greek mask is shown below. Because the number of actors varied from one to three, they had to put on different masks, in order to play more roles. The actors were all men. The mask was therefore necessary to let them play the female roles. This picture portrays a woman's mask. Some people claim that the masks had one more significance: they added resonance to the voice of an actor so that everyone in the huge ancient theatre could hear them. I do not quite agree with that point of view. I think it's enough for someone to attend a modern performance of a play in the ancient theatre of Epidavros to feel the perfection of the acoustics in an ancient theatre. ...read more.

Middle

The Doctor and his servant try to determine what is wrong. The Doctor, after much enticing, gives Harlequin a shot on his backside with a huge syringe. Harlequin is found to be pregnant and delivers three babies, one of which survives. Harlequin nurses and mothers the baby. He teaches the child to walk. Harlequin complains to the Doctor regarding the problems of rearing a child. Harlequin whips the child, and the play eventually ends with Harlequin teaching the child to read. Throughout the play, Harlequin is made fun of by his friends. From this engraving, we can see the comic side of the Commedia dell'Arte, and also, perhaps, it's underlying serious message, which would be typical of the Renaissance. The Island The Island, created by the Trestle Theatre company, and which we were fortunate to witness earlier this year, is a perfect example of how masks can be used to portray characters, and objects, which actors would never normally be able to carry out. ...read more.

Conclusion

Wigs and other apparatus, such as hats, have joined later. There are five rules which we have learnt this year which ensure a high-quality performance: 1) Do not touch your mask 2) Do not stand less than five metres away from the audience 3) Do not speak, or breathe heavily with your mask on 4) Do not face the audience when taking off or putting on the mask 5) Always clock the audience Acting in a mask has to be exaggerated- almost over-acted- so that the audience know what the character is thinking or doing. Though this is hard at first, I felt that wearing a mask added something new to my acting skills, because I could do things that I perhaps wouldn't dare to before- the mask acted as a sort of safety net. Masked theatre has been around for thousands of years, adding aspects of theatre many had never seen before. With companies like the T.T.C., we can be sure that masks can enter the modern world, and still come out the success they have always been. Luke Bullen ...read more.

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